What photography gear and techniques are used to create an exceptional photo?

Why don’t the pictures your dad took in the backyard look as good as the ones you see on the covers of magazines? Probably because you’re not as attractive as those models on the covers of magazines (ha…kidding, kidding!) Seriously, though, what exactly does it take to create a “professional” image? Four basic pieces of gear and techniques contribute the most. In order of importance they are as follows:

  1. Lighting
  2. Post Processing
  3. Lenses
  4. Camera Body


Lighting is THE most important element to a successful photograph. A poorly lit image is about as inspiring as Joaquin Phoenix high on the Late Show. Much more important than just the presence of light, however, is the QUALITY of light. For example, light from noonday sun is harsh and unflattering, whereas the light just before sunset is very gentle and soft. Even with the soft light of pre-dusk, however, we often find ourselves needing to manipulate or add to the light. For these situations we use a variety of tools, the most important of which are our portable studio strobe lights. These strobes offer the ability to precisely control the intensity and directionality of light. They also produce very soft, flattering light that mimics the quality of end-of-the-day sunlight. And best of all, our studio lighting systems are completely portable. And boy do we port them. There is hardly a shoot we do that we don’t use our lights. They really do make the photos that much better. It’s like taking our own sunset light with us wherever we go.


Post Processing

Photoshop. It’s amazing. A mediocre picture can be turned into a great picture, and a great picture can be turned into an outstanding picture…if you know how to take advantage of the tools in Photoshop. The program isn’t easy to learn; there are as many options and adjustment mechanisms in the software as there are politicians in Washington. And oh, yeah: it’s not cheap either. It is, however, as essential a tool to a serious photographer as a stethoscope is to a doctor. A thorough knowledge of Photoshop and an expert ability to apply it will do more for enhancing a photographer’s work than silicone did for Dolly Parton’s career. A photo that has not been at least minimally post processed through Photoshop is like a piece of coal just waiting to be crushed into a diamond. You can see the dramatic improvement in image quality by viewing before and after examples of our Photoshop editing.

Photoshop Screen Grab


Many people, when seeing a brilliant photo, will immediately say, “wow, you must have a good camera.” What they don’t realize is that the lens on the camera is equally, if not more, important than the body itself! DM Photo has invested heavily in lenses. We use what’s called Canon’s “L-glass”, which is Canon’s professional line of lenses (immediately recognizable by the red ring around the end of the lens). These lenses cost many thousands of dollars and produce a rich color and detailed clarity that cannot be matched.

Canon 70-200 L 2.8 IS

Camera Body

To say the camera body is not important is like saying the last few seasons of The Simpsons aren’t important. It is important – perhaps not quite so much as the rest, but still vitally important, nonetheless. Cameras differ in style and quality. DM Photo uses Canon’s original 5D and its successor, the 5D Mark II. These are exceptional camera bodies and are unsurpassed in terms of image quality. The 5D Mark II has the added advantage of capturing enormous image sizes (21 Megapixels) and being able to shoot in low light conditions (ideal for low-light receptions). Both cameras are favorites throughout the world among professional portrait photographers (the 5D Mark II is what was used to take the first official portrait of President Obama).

Canon 5Ds

Of course all this gear doesn’t mean a darn thing unless you like our images. Ultimately, a great photograph is a combination of all the right techniques coming together at once. We invite you to view our Arizona wedding photography, portrait photography, and commercial photography galleries to see if our style matches your taste and needs.