Pier by Chris Van Essen

Photographers are all very different. Of course, we all have a lot in common too. In KnowYourDSLR’s last feature, Alex Floyd-Douglass told us about her personal photographic journey and the importance of light. And we are each on an individual path, exploring ways to expose scenes in a way that reflects something unique, whether about us or our subjects. Everyone has their own perspective and opinions on photos, whether a beginner or a photographer with years of experience. I guarantee you that both extremes will come across something new every day and question how they take their photos over and over again throughout their life.

My name is Christopher Van Essen (Instagram : @essenphotos) and I’ve been heavily involved with photography for the last two years. I actually obtained a diploma in photography five years ago and didn’t then practise. I lost a lot of my knowledge and had to teach myself all over again. ** Moral of that lesson: practice over and over, and don’t be stupid like I was. **

I would class myself as a Landscape and Building Photographer. I am architecturally trained and I love both natural landscapes and the way buildings shape more urban landscapes.

It’s Canon for me…

I’ve tailored my photographic knowledge around Canon and Canon-fit products. I started with a Canon 1200D Basic set up for about £300. The pack came with two kit lenses: the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II and a 100-300mm telephoto lens. At the time, I didn’t know much about lenses and the terminology. I just dived in. I just figured that if I could create a good image from a poor camera then I must be half way there. I could build on the basic knowledge I had through trial and error. This little kit served me well and I enjoyed learning and testing things out.

I will explain in more detail about the different types of lenses and apertures available to photographers (and their costs) in a later post. There is such a wide range, it’s sometimes hard to know what will suit you and how best to spend your hard-earned money! Although, one thing I will say about Canon camera products is that they are generally easy to use, or at least I think so.  Canon’s menu and system design is simple to understand and easy to navigate.

My lenses…

Although I haven’t made the jump to full-frame cameras yet, it’s something for the future. For the time being, I take all my photos on my trusty Canon 80D and two lenses:

  1. The Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art DG Lens
  2. The ‘Nifty Fifty’ Canon 50mm 1.8 Lens

Before I bought the Sigma 20mm, I did own and love the Canon 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 IS STM Lens, but the Sigma and Canon lenses above are better suited to wide angles and landscape photography.

Lenses are generally a good investment and hold their value (especially the better quality ones). The more expensive lenses are made with better quality glass, which can provide you with a much sharper image.

A more expensive lens often means a lower aperture number, which means it has a wider aperture, giving a greater depth of field to your photos. The Sigma 20mm 1.4 is the lens for me because I often take images at night time and an aperture of f/1.4 lets substantial amounts of light into the sensor. The quality of the lens is amazing and worth every penny.


The Canon 50mm 1.8 is one of the most familiar lenses to photographers, referred to as the ‘nifty fifty’ as it is small and only about £150, yet it packs a punch with its f/1.8 aperture. This is a great lens for portraits or if I want to capture sharp images close-up. I would recommend always having a lens like this in your backpack.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little snapshot into my photographic world. It would be great to hear your feedback and thoughts so please connect or leave a comment below! Good luck on all your own unique journeys as photographers. Keep exploring new way of expressing yourself. And get to know your gear so it can get to know you!

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