Bismarck's premiere newborn photographer | Bismarck area baby photographer | Bismarck family photographer » Megan Milbradt is one of Bismarck's best newborn, child and family photographers. Offering studio newborn baby sessions, first year baby plans and outdoor family sesssions in the Bismarck, North Dakota area.

I’ve been teaching my beginner DSLR camera class, the Everyday Life Workshop, for five years now, and as a result I receive a lot of emails and questions from parents about what is the best DSLR camera to buy.  Last week, I took to my Facebook page with a live video where I covered some general information for those in the market to buy.  Please feel free to visit my page over there to watch that video!  I thought I would recap the info shared here so others may refer back to it in the future, as well.

If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance you’ve considered purchasing a nice camera in order to take better photos of your children and capture all of their cuteness and milestones to come.  DSLR cameras have become increasingly popular in recent years, so you have probably seen friends and fellow parents everywhere using them.  And for good reason; DSLR cameras allow you to be in full control of the settings your camera uses to create an image.  The biggest advantage I can see, as a parent, to owning a DSLR camera is that you can use incredibly fast shutter speeds, which will freeze the motion of your always busy, fast-moving kiddos.  If you’re frustrated that 56 of the 57 photos you take of your toddler with your iPhone comes out blurry, consider purchasing a DSLR!  With that said, there are a lot of overwhelming options available and a DSLR camera is a big investment, so I’d like to help you through the decision making process with a few tips and things to consider.

1. Budget

Beginner DSLR cameras on the market today run from the upper $400 range to the lower $700 range. Keep that in mind when setting your budget.

2. Latest & greatest

Get the most updated gear you can within your budget at the time of your purchase.  Technology is always changing and once you purchase something new it feels like it’s outdated a week later, but when you are in the market to buy, spend your money on the latest technology available in that moment.

3. Skip the camera kit.

You’ll notice that many stores offer a “kit” that includes the camera body, a couple of lenses and maybe some other accessories for a package price.  Unfortunately, the lenses that typically come in these kits are not ideal for portrait photography.  The lenses I see offered in the kits typically have a varying aperture, which means as you change the focal length of the lens (zoom in and out), the aperture changes.  When taking photos of our children, we most often use low apertures which allows maximum light to enter our camera and also gives us that coveted “blurry background” everyone loves to achieve.  If you understand aperture, shooting with one of these kit lenses is going to leave you very frustrated.  Instead, I encourage you to purchase the camera body alone and then use the money you’ll save by not purchasing the kit to invest in a good lens.  I always recommend starting out with a 50mm f/1.8 lens.  It is a great focal length for both indoors and outdoors, has low aperture capabilities, and is a fairly inexpensive lens to get started with.  You’ll be so much happier with your images from the get-go with this lens vs. any of those offered in the kits.

More information about the 50 mm f/1.8 lens and links to purchase can be found on the Everyday Life Workshop page.

4. Nikon vs Canon

I don’t think you can go wrong with either but here’s something to keep in mind when deciding between the two brands.  Many of the beginner Nikon DSLRs do not have auto focus built in to the camera body.  This means, that in order for your camera to function with auto focus, you must have it built into the lens you use.  All Canon camera models have auto focus built into the camera body.  While you may save a little money on a Nikon body upfront, you’ll be spending more on the lenses in order to have auto focus.  Likewise, you may spend a little more on a Canon body upfront due to the auto focus being built in, but you may find the lenses to be a little less expensive.  There is no right or wrong on which way you go, but keep this in mind when you purchase a body so you aren’t surprised to find that your new Nikon DSLR doesn’t have auto focus.

5. Current beginner models

Based on my current research today (03.20.18), the most current beginner DSLR models are the Nikon D3400, Nikon D5600, and the Canon Rebel T7i.  Older models of each of these are still on the market (i.e. Nikon D3000 series – D3300, D3200, etc.) and may be less expensive.  However, as I mentioned before, it is always best to go with the most updated technology that you can at the time of your purchase.  In my opinion, the savings going with a later model isn’t significant enough to not purchase the latest.

6. Where to buy

Always buy from a trusted and reputable source.  I purchase all of my gear from either B&H Photo Video or Adorama.  Both have competitive prices and great customer service.  You may find it cheaper somewhere else, but beware of the “too good to be true” low prices from random websites.  You may actually be purchasing used or refurbished gear without knowing it.  That’s not to say that used or refurbished gear is a no-go if that’s what you’re expecting and have done your research.

7. Learn how to use your camera

If you’re going to invest in a camera with so many capabilities, you owe it to yourself to learn how to use it!  With the right knowledge, you can take a great quality image in nearly every setting with a DSLR camera.  There’s endless information online that can guide you, but I cover it all in the Everyday Life Workshop.  It’s a one day course where I break it down into easy to understand terms, spend hands-on time helping each individual learn their camera’s settings and everyone walks away not only knowing how to shoot in manual mode, but also with great take-home material to help them along after the workshop is over.  All of the details about the Everyday Life Workshop, including registration info can be found over here.

I hope you’ll find that this information answers your questions and guides you in purchasing your DSLR camera.  I’m always happy to take questions or comments so feel free to contact me, as well.  And be sure to follow me on the Everyday Art Photography Facebook page where I’ll continue to share information and videos about cameras, future workshops, sessions and more!

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Does this story sound familiar to  you?

You became a new mother and your baby was SO adorable that you just knew you needed a great camera to be able to capture every ounce of cuteness and all the milestones to come.  So you invested in a DSLR camera and soon realized that getting the shots you’d planned on wasn’t as easy as you’d hoped it would be.  Soon, your baby was growing up and actually moving and getting those beautiful photos you’d thought you would became even harder.  As a mom of a toddler, you did not have hours to spend learning how to actually use the fancy camera you’d invested in.  So you put it aside and told yourself that just using your phone camera was good enough, not to mention much easier and more convenient.  Soon, the fancy camera only comes out a couple times a year during birthdays and holidays and you hope for the best at getting at least a couple of great shots.

I can bet that the majority of parents reading this will likely be able to relate.  How do I know?  I’ve been teaching the Everyday Life Workshop for 5 years now and have met so many parents with the same story!  But how is this story going to end?

The Everyday Life Workshop is a one day course that is designed specifically for parents who want to learn how to use their DSLR cameras to capture the lives of their children.  In one day, you’ll learn about using light and walk away knowing how to shoot in manual mode.  With your newfound knowledge, you’ll have the ability to make the most of the investment you’ve made in your camera.  Better yet, you’ll be motivated and inspired to not continue to let the milestones and beautiful everyday moments of your children go by undocumented when you already have this amazing (and expensive!) tool you can use to do just that.

The next Everyday Life Workshop will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2018.  To read the full details and learn how to register, visit the workshop page here.

everyday life workshop

The Everyday Life Workshop is for you if:

  • You have invested a lot of money in a DSLR camera and still don’t feel like you are getting great photos of your children.
  • You have looked at all the buttons on your camera and decided it would just be easier to stick to Auto mode (or use your iPhone camera).
  • You feel like you sometimes get a “lucky shot” and would like to make that happen more often.
  • It is important to you to document the lives of your children, especially while they are young.
  • You need a day just for YOU to learn and be inspired!
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I want to share this personal project I did in 2017. I talk a lot in my Everyday Life Workshop about the importance of capturing your children in their everyday lives (hence, the name of my class). I teach parents how to do just that, and do it well, using their DSLR cameras. But I also talk about embracing imperfection. Often times, just capturing the moment is more important than creating a technically perfect image.

At last year’s workshop, I was only a few weeks into this project and starting something in the dark and seemingly uneventful days in the middle of a North Dakota winter just wasn’t all that fun at first. It was at that workshop where I found myself eating my own words! I realized that the things I was worried about most in starting it, like awful lighting and poor iPhone video quality didn’t mean a thing to me in the end. Those imperfect, uneventful days are the beauty of our life. The things we do day in and day out that seem ordinary now are the things we’ll never want to forget.

This notion is exactly why I started the Everyday Life Workshop five years ago. Tomorrow, I will be opening up registration for the next workshop which will be held Saturday, February 10 in downtown Bismarck. (Details can be found here.) Whether you attend or not, I hope this inspires you to challenge yourself to capture more of your family’s everyday moments in 2018.

1 second every day | the milbradt family | 2017 from Everyday Art Photography on Vimeo.

I created this video by using an app called 1 second everyday.  We all have our phones within reach nearly 24/7, so taking a video clip of your life each day is a very achievable task.  Set yourself a reminder on your phone if you need to so you don’t forget, especially when you first start.  There were plenty of days when I didn’t remember to capture it until my children’s bedtime or even after, but I was still able to capture something for that day.  To be fair, I did totally miss 4 days, too!

This genius app allows you to easily import your videos from each day and trim them down to exactly one second.  It stores each clip for you and puts the date stamp on it. (Often times, once I have my videos uploaded to the app, I just delete them from my phone, but the app only keeps the 1 second clip, not your entire video.) When you’re ready to view the full video, it mashes them all together and the outcome is magical, especially 365 days later! I exported my 2017 video and used some video editing software to add in some title frames as well as the music.  If I can give you one tip from the start it is to remember to always only HORIZONTAL videos!  In the beginning, I had to scrap a couple of great clips because I took them vertically with my phone.


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With each passing year, I’m continually reminded of the blessing it is to photograph so many incredible families.  Your continued support of my business allows me to do what I love!  I can’t thank you each of my clients and those who follow my work enough for allowing me to be a part of your life in this way; past, present and future!

Many thanks and best wishes for 2018!


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This was my last official session of 2017 and it was like the cherry on top of my year.  Believe it or not, I actually photographed the wedding of this couple years ago and it was so wonderful to have the opportunity to photograph them once again as a family of 5!

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  • Marlene. Foss - Love all of the picture gr

  • Fotograf Wroclaw - Lovely set of images!

  • Dawid Mitoraj - piękne zdjęcia !

  • Fotograf Ślubny Katowice - cudowne zdjęcia

  • Łukasz Wąsik - Piękne naturalne rodzinne zdjęcia.
    Bardzo fajna sesja! Zdjęcia będą bezcenną pamiątką w rodzinnym albumie.

  • Jarek - Świetne rodzinne zdjęcia. Piękne kolory, miło się ogląda.