Pierce Brunson Photography | Blog

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How Do I Purchase the Right Camera?

July 24, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Since I have signed up to be a photography instructor at the local community college I have received a few of the same questions. It’s cool because they were the same questions I asked when I started in photography. The main question is…

I'm looking into taking your course and was wondering if you had and recommendations for a good starter camera? A buddy, who is also a pro, suggested cannon rebel t2i/t3i. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Here is my most professional, been there, feared that, answer.

Purchasing my first camera took me four months of wasteful research.  I think what happens is the rip-off factor comes into play or the thoughts of “this” camera takes better images than the other one shakes our psyche.  While I do believe that high end (professional/full frame) cameras take better images the lower end ones (the ones in Best Buy) have some advantages.  Here is what I tell people.

  1. What do you want to do with your camera? If you really vision getting into taking very nice images and trying/ purchasing better lenses then go with a low end “prosumer” camera.  These cameras run in the $1000 to $2000 range. They can handle the high end attachments that you can borrow or rent.  The lower end “consumer” ones cant. The t3i is a decent camera but a little too automatic for my style.  The more expensive the camera the more you have control over everything…controlling all aspects of the images capture is how the great photos are created. Don’t research too much you will just get confused with too much information. If you go T3i and really like photography you will hit a wall with that thing within the first year. That’s $500 down the drain unless you can resell that camera and get $200 back. With Canon making new cameras every week there is more confusion. So, as of now if I was going to buy a camera because I wanted to get into photography (and didn’t know what I know through experience) I would purchase the new 70d. It has the latest bells and whistles and more advanced features than the 60d (which came out last year and is now outdated).  Now, knowing what I know and how I use my cameras I would at least spend the money on the 6D. At $2000 and a few millimeters off of true full frame you can’t beat that. At the time I started the 50d was $1200 and it was a  tough call. That is how I made my decision. I am glad I went prosumer and spent the extra $500. Also note, when I started I hadn’t used a SLR camera in 8 years and my photo skills were garbage.


  1. You have $5000 just laying around so just get the 5d mark III and call it a day.


Don’t even ask me about Nikon or Canon. Well, here is a quick take on that one.  I have heard from Nikon people (mainly my photo coordinator) that Nikon is easier to use and the buttons are easier to understand. My response is “Canon is better (in my shut up, I’m the boss, I can’t hear you, 5th grade kid voice).” Hope this helps. Make a decision and forget about the regret. Photography is about exploration, if a higher end helps you take great pics when you go hiking then don’t sell yourself short. These prosumer cameras will last a good 6 years if you shoot them really hard. Longer if you don’t. See ya in class.

Pierce Brunson
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(Pierce Brunson, Pierce Brunson Photography, Firefly Event Photography & Entertainment)


Advice That Really Worked!

July 11, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Ok, so when I started on this journey of finding my purpose things were easy. You know, read a book, smile more, write lists of stuff that I want, visualize, focus, meditate and so on. Then came those real life moments where you have to deal with the stuff that isn’t in the books. You know the BS of life. The stuff that can make you depressed, angry, mad, sad and question if you will ever make it to even one part of your desired destination.

Honestly I hit a wall. Things are going great and we are poised to have a better year than I ever imagined I could have in my life (unless you count the dreams on my “lists”) but somehow I was a grump.  Life’s little dings had taken hold and made a large dent. I couldn’t read anymore advice, quotes had lost meaning, good things were hard to focus on, bad things were easy to make “super bad,” people annoyed me, I annoyed myself and so on.  What to do?

Well, I was reading a book that basically said “book a trip.”  The advice was telling me to get away from it all and really let the batteries recharge.  Leave the phone, emails, calls, and internet requests behind for a week and just go. Like most of the self-help strategies I have used, this one seemed to annoy me the most. I mean damn, we hadn’t made the money yet. We still have contracts pending I have rent to pay, my kid needs shoes, I gotta keep working and pushing.

Then I thought, when have I ever taken a vacation where it was about discovery and not recovery?  This book suggested taking the week to discover more about myself, not just recover. It was an interesting perspective.  The book suggested you take a trip to a place you have always wanted to go…for me that would be Greece.  Well, according to my budget and life’s reality I couldn’t do that so I hit up priceline.com and went for the 3.5 star hotel option in Orlando.  We got a great rate for three days (remember the book said a week) so we took off on Sunday morning.

Sunday was like the past five Sundays…me barking away at the family.  The good thing was my phone was off, so no emails or internet to distract me as I fumed at the family’s mistakes. The results were exactly what the doctor ordered.

The goal was to head back Wednesday all ready to get back into the swing of things but something happened on Monday.  I knew that I didn’t spend enough time discovering. I realized that I was just check listing my life again. You know, hey yeah we took a vacation…check.  After, a phone call that annoyed me I realized I needed to take the book’s advice and add a day. So I did. That was the best decision I have made in a while.

After a hectic run around Sea World on Monday, my mind started to open back up to “why I am following my passion.” I was able to look at my business with hopeful eyes and remember why I am going in this direction. I was able to remember why I left my teaching job to become an event photographer.  I could see all the things that I couldn’t before. My family made me smile again. My wife was awesome again. My son was cool again. I wasn’t so chippy again. I was happy that we are expecting a daughter in October. I was happy to take my son on a long walk around the hotel so my wife could just chill. I was happy to tip the waitress, bellhop, and other kind helpers at our awesome hotel.  I was living. I was enjoying my life.

I realized a few additional things. I have made some good choices even though they were hard to make. There are good people out there and the world isn’t all bad. My business is important to me. My family is important and a cool bunch of people.  My sister is cool. My brother is cool. My parents are cool. And everyone should be able to enjoy the life path they decide to follow, including me. We don’t all have to chase riches if we don’t want to. Our path is our path. Ahh so refreshing.

Being back I am in a better mood. I realize that being a super doer/ hero for the last two years of my business has hurt me mentally.  I made the mistake of trying to carry everyone then complain when they didn’t pull their weight.  I am human also.

I now know that breaks are important. One must have discovery breaks in order to continue to move forward. I will work to add this strategy to the life of my family at least once a year.  I hope you get to the point where you need this message…taking a week, shutting off the phone and the world will be an amazing renewal. I honestly believe it is necessary to become a better you.


Thanks to Daniel Priestley author of Become a Key Person of Influence for the great advice.

Couple Photo (Affection, Know Story, Be Personable) Tips

July 09, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Three Tips for Improving Your Couple Photo Shoots (Affection, Know Story, Be Personable)

  1. Encourage Affection:  Couples will be couples but that doesn’t mean that it makes a memorable photograph.  Encourage your couples to talk as you back off. I will tend to pose the couple close and step back and just let them talk a bit. I have used the “my camera’s adjustments…” to take the pressure off me and on to them. As they wait you will start to see the couple focus on each other rather than the photographer or shoot.
  2. Know Their Story: Some stories are great and romantic, some are well just plain but each story is important. Know how they met and use it in conversation. Even only getting one side of the story and using it as a connection conversation can strike up laughter.
  3. Be Personable but Stay in Your Lane: I am a naturally funny guy. I like to laugh. Even if I dislike you and you say something funny I will laugh…that’s how much I like to laugh.  I use this when I shoot. If your lady calls you “papi” it’s over. I am using that the rest of the shoot.  I will even say things like “baby is a wonderful statement but when a lady call you papi…you are the man.”  What guy doesn’t want to be the man?  I will even turn the joke on myself and say “Man us regular dudes get honey, sugar, boo…but papi? You the man (fist bump).” This is a risk if your personality isn’t toward that nature. Also this may not work with people older than 50…use age appropriate humor. It will flavor the shoot and they will love your effort.

Three Tips for Shooting Couples at Events

July 04, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Event photography is a great way for some photographers (that like a mass of people and loud music) to make some extra cash shooting events.  These events can range from a black tie affair to a day seminar but people need good photography after their event (not weddings).  My company is a high volume event photography company focusing on homecomings, proms, school events and graduations.  We deliver all images within 4 hours after the event.  It takes a team of trusted photographers but we deliver the goods.  Now, without a team the single photographer can use these three tips to shoot local events and expand your business.  Here is what we learned, hope they help you.

  1. Couples will be diverse in skin tone at many affairs you attend. How do you keep an even tone across the image with one being too dark and the other too light? 

ANSWER: Most of the time photographers will use a bracket that moves the light to the top position no matter what position the camera is in. This still won’t fix the issue. Keep your flash in position and turn it to portrait position making sure the flash is on the darker toned person. They will get the most light and the lighter person wont. BAM! Solved.


  1. The place is dark and my flash is causing squinting, forehead blowouts, and temporary blindness.

ANSWER: First, you may be too close to your subject, give them a good five feet. This is enough room for distance, a nice shot and for others to know you are shooting “this couple” and you shouldn’t walk through our middle ground. Second, a plastic diffuse cap (or strap a white napkin on with a rubber band). This will make the flash less blinding and will soften the light. Third, crank up the power on that flash a bit and point it to the ceiling. A lot of events we do have high ceiling so we bounce at full power and keep the fresh batteries ready. If these fail go see the person that controls the light and tell them your issue. They may be able to bring the lights up a bit without disturbing the mood.


  1. He is 6’4” and she is 5’2” (or the other way around).

ANSWER: Get them while they are BOTH sitting. Once the dishes are clear a nice shot of people sitting is a changeup. You will have to squat a bit but when they are sitting they are more in proportion. Never have the taller sit while the shorter stands, talk about making a person feel smaller than they really are. If they are a few inches off and want to stand I usually split the different in the lens for a crop (waist up shot) then take another full length click.

Remember photography is an art at times and rules can be broken to get a great image that works. Visit my personal portfolio at www.piercebrunsonphotography.com . I hope these tips help you as much as they help us. Let me know how you did on Google+ or Facebook. Thanks and keep shooting.

Three Tips for Better Photo Shoots

July 02, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

No matter what side of the camera you are on these three quick tips will help greatly improve the outcome of your images.

1. Know three poses.  Everyone knows how to stand but beyond that what are two other poses that fit your personality?  Have the photographer email you some sample poses so you have an idea of what is going to take place.

2. Know what time of the day is best.  Sunset is a great time. The summer sunset in Florida can take hours and if you start too early you can run out of energy as this is right around dinner time.  Work to schedule the time where the light is best even if the kids are up a bit later than usual.  Plus a long shoot will cause kids to get bored and dislike the camera.

3. Pick a location you will love.  Here in Tampa Bay we have a ton of coastline. This doesn't guarantee that it is the best place to take sunset beach images.  Places by major hotels are busy with people and other distractions. It is better to have your customers travel 20 minutes our of their way to get an image they will love than an image they will like. 


I share these with you because I have made these mistakes. As the photographer it is my duty to share poses that fit my customers, scout locations, and know the times for the best light.  Shoots will be easier and more "image capture" focused with these tips implemented.


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