Natalie Thomas

Commercial | Last Updated: April 21, 2021

Hi Shotkit! It’s so exciting to have the opportunity to share my story, my love for photography, and of course my gear and how I use it in my day to day life as a professional photographer!

I am a commercial photographer based out of Los Angeles. I mainly shoot product photography but I’m consistently shooting all genres of photography for my clients, from e-commerce to interiors to lifestyle.

Unlike a lot of other photographers, I didn’t aspire to be a professional photographer at a young age or even dabble with the thought of it being a hobby.

I took my first photography class only 4 years ago during my second year of college. I was a graphic communications major at the time and beginning photography happened to be a required class.

As you can guess, I loved it! I decided I wanted to pursue photography full time.

I transferred to Appalachian State University in the mountains of western North Carolina, which was known to have a great extensive commercial photography program.

When I began my photography journey at App State, I only had a crop sensor Canon Rebel T3i with two kit lenses. For a year I used the heck out of that camera as well as rented gear from the awesome Photography Department’s rental program.

Eventually, I got tired of renting and finally bought my own full sensor camera (my Canon 5D Mark III) the next year.

Before I graduated, I bought a Dynalite strobe lighting kit from one of my professors. It included three Dynalite 2040 2,000 watt/sec flash heads, a Dynalite UNI400JR mono light, a Dynalite 1000xr and 1000xl power pack, 4 pocket wizards, grids, a reflector, and a Chimera Super Pro Plus M soft box.

Crazily enough, I didn’t use any of it until a whole year passed after graduating.

During that year I worked at a commercial photography studio in Greensboro, North Carolina shooting interiors for various furniture companies. Then I decided I wanted to push myself further and work towards my long term goals and dreams as a photographer.

I moved to Los Angeles at the very beginning of January 2019. At first, I started to look for studios to work at, but then I said forget it – I’m going to work hard and do what I came here to do.

From that point on I’ve been working as a fully freelance photographer from my in-home studio. I keep my Canon 5D Mark III stationary at home and shoot tethered to Capture One on my MacBook Pro for all of my product shoots.

My Dynalite lighting kit gets used daily as well. And although I only have one softbox, I find that it makes me more creative as a photographer – a true visual problem solver.

Sometimes I use the diffusion panel of my Selens 5-in-1 Reflector as an additional softbox and block and reflect light with black and white foam core boards. I also use white wrapping paper for diffusion and aluminum foil to make snoots.

As long as I am able to create the results I want, I am happy with waiting to upgrade my gear until my business expands and I am able to have an actual studio.

Aside from lighting, I recently added a Canon EOS R to my collection for essentially everything else I shoot. I love its fast, auto eye detection for portraits and being able to see my final exposure through the lens in real-time.

I also have a Photek digital lighthouse (not shown) that I use for e-commerce shots of small products.

Adobe Photoshop is always my go-to for editing but sometimes I use Adobe Lightroom for shoots with a large volume of images to organize.

My favorite lenses to use are my Sigma Art 35mm f/1.4 and Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. I also have a Canon 85mm f/1.8 and Canon 50mm f/1.8.

Eventually I want to upgrade to all red line lenses but for now they work perfectly fine while I build and grow!

I hope I can inspire other photographers with my story, and encourage others to follow their dreams – big or small. I know photography is an expensive career to build, but you don’t have to buy the top of the line gear right away to be able to produce professional work.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with the gear you already have and modify it with everyday things around you.

Be a true visual problem solver! | @nataliethomasphotography

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