Resources for the Photographer and Online Entrepreneur
Here Are a Few of My Favorite Things
Welcome to the William Beem Photography Resources Page. The items and services on this page are things that I use and strongly recommend to help you become a better photographer, artist and entrepreneur.
I've used and tested every item on this list.
My recommendation wouldn't mean a thing, otherwise. The products and services here are critical for my photography and business.
Before you continue, I need to tell you that some of the links below are affiliate links. That means I will receive a small commission if you should decide to make a purchase, but there is no extra cost to you. In some cases, I can provide you with a coupon code to save you money compared to the retail price.
I don't let affiliate links cloud my judgment. In fact, there are some vendors that I removed from this list when I decided they were no longer worthy of my business or recommendation. You can be sure that I won't steer you in the wrong direction just to make some money on the side. If you appreciate the information that I provide, using an affiliate link helps me keep this site running and experiment with things so I can provide fresh information.
Coupon Codes and Discounts
Use my coupon codes to save money on these products.
Online Hosting Services
These are the professional services I use for my web site and email list. I've tried others, but none had the performance, features or customer support that I found with these providers.
WP Engine is my current web host and the most reliable service I found. My web site is my business. I trust it to people who treat it like a business, with fast performance, daily backups and great tech support.
I tried a lot of tools to build email optin forms, but Optinmonster is the best. It integrates extremely well with ConvertKit and doesn't upset Google when you use a pop-up or welcome gate form.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe products are the industry standard for photography and other creative programs. You can get the Adobe Photography Bundle for 49.95, or do like I do and order the complete Creative Cloud collection to use Premier, Audition, InDesign and other outstanding editing programs.
This is the stuff I use. From DSLR to Portable photo/video and an Action Camera.
My main body these days is the Nikon D800 (now replaced with the Nikon D810). It’s a 36 mexapixel camera that creates wonderfully large images with excellent detail. It’s a remarkable portrait, travel, landscape and detail camera. The sensor does a great job in low light and picks up a greater dynamic range than any other camera I’ve used.
The battery grip solves a few problems for me.It provides longer battery life for shooting. A battery grip also improves your frame rate for burst mode shooting. Where it helps is due to the additional controls allow me to keep a better body posture when shooting vertically.
The Canon Powershot G7x Mark II puts a lot of power in a small package. It takes excellent photos & video, the sound quality is very good and it fits in your pocket. It's my favorite walk about & blogging camera.
A GoPro HERO 5 action camera packs a lot of power in a very small package. It's waterproof, so you don't need an extra housing. You can mount these things almost anywhere and get great 4K video. The sound sucks, but that's not why you buy a GoPro.
This is the lighting gear I use. Simple and effective. Small Flash, Studio Strobe and some wireless triggers so you can light around corners.
I have a handful of these flashes and they work very well. You can get other flashes and they all deliver a burst of light, so the reason to choose a brand is because of the benefits it provides. The Nikon CLS system allows the flashes to communicate with each other, giving you a system to measure light and adjust flash output on the fly.
My Elinchrom kit contains two 500 watt studio lights, stands and softboxes in convenient carry bags. I bought Elinchrom in part for the consistent light temperature, so each shot is consistent. The other reason I bought Elinchrom is for the fantastic array of light modifiers available. This kit also comes with a radio transmitter that allows you to control the power of the lights from your camera.
The disadvantage of CLS is that your flashes must have a line of sight. The PocketWizard MiniTT1 & FlexTT5 allows you to keep using CLS control without the need to maintain line of sight. Go ahead, flash around a corner with these little puppies!
The PocketWizard FlexTT5 is a different beast. As a transceiver, you attach these puppies to each flash. It catches the radio signal and translates the CLS information to tell the flash how much power to use.
The last piece of the puzzle is the AC3 Zone Controller. This little device allows you to separate your lights into three different zones, each with different flash power output. You can use CLS to drive your flash in TTL or Manual power, giving you complete creative control for the situation.
I'm a Nikon shooter, and I prefer using the Nikon/Nikkor series of lenses. These are the lenses I use time after time because I know I'll get a quality image (as long as I don't point the camera at my foot).
This is my favorite portrait lens, but it does so much more. It's wicked sharp. VR keeps images sharp at slow shutter speeds. The bokeh is so outstanding that you want to lick the pictures. It has a constant f/2.8 aperture and fast autofocus. Every Nikon photographer should have this lens.
This isn't an every-day lens for most, but it offers a spectacular ultra-wide angle view that most photographers never get. Its fast aperture and short focal length make it ideal for low light photography. The image quality is outstanding and it's built tough. I love this lens.
This is one of my favorite prime lenses. It has a razor thin depth of field with phenomenal bokeh. While that's great for portraits, I also found it works wonders as a low-light lens due to the f/1.4 aperture. People love the images from this lens due to its combination of sharpness in focus and creamy bokeh. It really isolates your subject.
Unless you only shoot with hard light that goes everywhere, you need some light modifiers. These are the light modifiers I use for studio strobes and small flash. Love every one of them, or else they wouldn't be on this list.
I love my beauty dish. It's perfect for head & shoulders portraits. It has a rapid light fall-off to carve out the features of your subject's face. This one includes deflectors to place in front of the flash, bounce it back into the beauty dish and provide even lighting on your subject.
Use the Deep Octa for waist-up portraits. It combines the best features of a beauty dish and a soft box. The light is softer than the beauty dish, but it still has a rapid light falloff to carve out shadows and features.
This is great for full lenght or even group photos. It's large, beautiful, soft light that makes everything look great. You can get a larger 74" octa, but the cost is 3 or 4 times more expensive. This one gives me great bang for the buck when I need the softest light for a subject.
A pair of strip lights can provide some creative possibilities, both for products and portraits. They do a good job for rim lighting your subject and controlling the light spread.
I have two versions of this softbox for small flash, but the one I recommend is the Joe McNally signature version. The difference is the liner. It has a soft white interior lining instead of a harsh silver lining. I can see the difference in the portraits and the white interior definitely creates a softer and more pleasing result.
Lighting accessories are those little things that help you nail the shot. Reflectors, grey cards and color calibration tools.
I shot for a long time without a light meter, and I wish I bought one of these devices much sooner. You can quickly measure available light or meter your flash with this model, set your camera and then shoot with a great baseline exposure. It just makes like much easier for photographers.
When color accuracy is imperative, you need a tool like the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport. It's a must-have for commercial work where businesses rely upon their brand colors. Even for amateur work, it gives you a credible starting place before you begin making any artistic changes.
If you're working alone, sometimes the small things matter the most. I like the TriGrip series of reflectors and diffusers because of the extremely useful grip handle. You can use it to provide some bounce while holding your camera to take the shot.
There are a lot of grey cards on the market (or even for free), but this one is convenient, robust, and has a nice target in the center to help focus. It's a great way to set your white balance in-camera and nail it for every shot.
These are the devices I use to provide better results in post processing.
The Intuos 5 operates with a pen or as a multi-touch tablet. It allows a level of precision and pressure sensitivity that no mouse or touchpad can match. If you're re-touching your photos, you need an Intuos 5 tablet. The only question is which size to select. That depends upon how you like to move your arm to use the pen. If you move at the wrist, get the small. I move at my elbow, so I use the medium size. If you move at your shoulder like an artist, go with the large size.
Every monitor needs color calibration. There are a lot of devices on the market, but I chose the ColorMunki Photo because it is a spectrophotometer, rather than a colorimeter, that can calibrate multiple devices accurately.
I have so much baggage. Despite buying tons of bags, I always seem to come back to ThinkTank. It's a no-brainer to recommend ThinkTank products in most cases. These are my favorites.
My main bag is the Think Tank Airport Takeoff. I’ve tried a lot of different camera bags and nothing else compares to ThinkTank for quality and durability. You get a plethora of velcro dividers to create whatever compartments you want for your gear. There are two see-through zipper pouches inside the cover. There’s room for a 15? MacBook Pro on the outside pouch.
This bag is much like the Airport Takeoff, although not quite as wide. However, it has something that all the other Think Tank Airport bags lack - four wheels! Your camera gear just glides with you instead of having to tilt it back and lug it through the airport or hotel.
Still smaller than the previous Think Tank bags, this one is a backpack and doesn't have any wheels. Technically, my Airport Takeoff has backpack straps, but I'd snap my spine if I had it full of gear. This gives me the quality and durability of Think Tank with the portability of a backpack.
Audio Recording Gear
Simple, but effective. These are the audio tools I use to create The Photo Flunky Show and record audio for my YouTube videos and other training videos.
I'm getting into podcasting and recording video tutorials. In either case, I need great sound from multiple sources. There are a lot of mixers, but the Yamaha MG12XU provided enough channels, a great mic pre-amp and USB connectivity to use my iOS devices.
There are a LOT of people on the Internet who think you need to buy an expensive broadcast microphone to get a good sound. The truth is that the Shure SM58 is an iconic microphone because it's so damn good. It's tough enough to fall off a building and still work, and it's very under-estimated by the podcast "elite." Save your money and get a workhorse mic.
This is where the magic happens. The DBX 286s is a microphone pre-amp with a compressor/limiter/gate & a de-esser. Using this rack mountable gear, I can get a better sound from my SM58 than some of the self-professed pros using a Heil PR40 or similar gear who aren't using this device.
I record into a Zoom H4n Handy Recorder. It's safer than recording to a computer, as software sometimes crashes and you lose everything in that session. Also, it's much more portable than an iMac. I can take it with me and use the built-in mics on top or use the two XLR connections on the bottom to use my own external mics. It records in stereo and four-channel multitrack to keep different inputs on their own channel. You could record and mix a song on this device without using your computer.