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Shooting in Manual

I often have aspiring photographers email me asking for advice on getting into photography, buying equipment, and going pro. I try to answer as many questions on the blog as possible, so that I can refer photographers to these blog posts.

No matter what questions I get from aspiring photographers, there is always one thing that I mention in every email. If you have emailed me a question you already know what I am going to say. I always come back to shooting in manual. If you want to be a professional photographer I believe that it is key that you learn to shoot in manual. Of course, this is just my opinion, but I can say that I have learned from experience.

A year and a half ago when I got my brand new camera on Christmas eve, I knew I wanted to be a photographer and I had no idea how to work my new camera. I admit, I put it on program mode and snapped pictures on Christmas day…but I didn’t stay there. For a few months as I started building my portfolio I left it on P mode because that was all I knew, but I kept reading and practicing. Then I made a switch as I was learning more and switched to Aperture Priority mode. AV mode gave me more control and helped me learn more about camera settings, but it was not the end. It was just a stepping stone to getting to where I needed to be.

Finally about 6 months after I began shooting I made the switch to shooting in manual. It has made all the difference. Shooting in manual gives the photographer the control, changing light no longer scares me because I have practiced and have taught myself how to deal with all types of light. I have read and practiced and taught myself so that I am confident that my camera is not smarter than me. I have learned how to make my photos turn out the way that I want them too.

So how do you get there? PRACTICE!!! Shoot in all lighting situations from all angles. Shoot in direct sun, shoot backlight, shoot side light. Bribe your spouse or bff with some Starbucks and ask them to model for you in every lighting situation possible. Take your time and learn to see light and to know exactly what to do when you encounter a “problem”. The more you practice the better you will feel about any situation you will ever encounter on a shoot or at a wedding. If I can do it, you can too! Take control of your photos and your future and let me know if you ever have any questions…I am always available to help!


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Earlier this year, I switched back and forth from program to manual mode. Finally, I made myself leave the p mode comfort zone and do it all manual. The only way to go!

I remember the first time I switched to manual too. It was scary, but now it instills confidence in the photographer to know that they can get a good shot given ANY lighting situation. You no longer need to rely on photoshop to fix your problems, you can learn to do it right the first time. In manual mode.

I’ve had to teach myself to shoot in manual. Now that I have learned to do it, it makes a world of difference!! Thanks for the tips Kristin!

[…] Learn to shoot in Manual! I know I say it all the time, but it is SO important, this combined with practice is really the […]

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