I know this is a brutish thing to say. But it is true. And I prefer to be honest. There was a time when my camera ran me. It was horrible, no mercy and it did a terrible job. I got frustrated with the results that never changed. I would have a heavenly vision of an image in my mind but my camera produced some lower then earth lousy looking picture. And who was to blame? Why me, of course. I allowed it. I was too lazy to become the assertive master of photography I claimed to be. I simply set my camera on Auto Mode and let it go to town. Every time I did, my camera set my white balance, ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed. The only control I had was which direction I pointed it in. It even had the nerve to tell me what plane I wanted to focus on!
I would come home from a session as an Oswego NY Family Photographer, and wonder why??? Why aren't my images Pintrest worthy? No life, shadowed eyes, flat light or harsh light….why? Because I let my camera take the pictures. I’ve had people tell me, “I just have to put it on auto mode and it does everything for me”. Yeah, you can do the same thing with your fancy cell phone too. No reason to spend hundreds or thousands on a professional camera.
Well, all that is in the past now. No more. I'd share my old portfolio but I buried the evidence. I am still learning the skill. But I have become a dictator to my camera. I tell it exactly how the shot is going to be to achieve the results I want. How did I do it? I stopped using auto mode and turned the dial to the dreaded M…for manual. Oh, it wasn’t an easy switch. It was terrifying. “Will I be fast enough to adjust my F-stop/SS when my meter drops way below the perfect exposure?” “Will I remember to adjust settings later when I’m in a different location?” “I’ve got to shoot in RAW?? What does that even mean??”
I often get told that my camera takes ‘nice’ pictures. Well, you’d think for the cost of it, it is the least it can do! Seriously, you want to offend your photographer, tell them their camera takes nice pictures! Let me tell you, when I let me camera have its own way it DOES NOT take nice pictures at all. Maybe ‘ok’ ones. I'll give it that. Let me tell you why.
Our church recently had our annual Vacation Bible School. And for some reason, I was put in charge. During these VBS’ days, I do not have time or patience to set my camera to manual mode to capture the non-stop action. And there’s a 99% chance I will be handing my camera off to someone I trust just enough to press the shutter button so I can run the show. So, after VBS I upload my images and question my skill as a photographer. Yup, Auto Mode will do that. The color cast is terrible. I want to murder the on camera flash but is has to be on because there’s not enough light to capture the movement of the kids dancing. And don’t forget the RED EYES! Embarrassed, I upload them to social media because parents expect to see their kids in my pictures after every event. I’m tempted to put a disclaimer on them saying, “I didn’t take those pictures, my camera did.”
Do you get the picture?? Does your stove get praised when you make a good meal?? NO! You praise the cook sweating over that hot fire, mixing, stirring and chopping while following the recipe! All my life, I have heard my mother praised for her amazing talent as a cook. Not once did anyone tell her that her stove operates above her abilities. Mind you, she finally got a stove with all 4 burners working correctly! And she still managed to prepare a meal for 30+ people every time her children and their families came over.
So yes, I tell my camera what to do and how to do it. I set the controls, speeds, f-stop to create the ‘nice’ image you are falling in love with of your family. I am the master of my camera. And if you wish to become the master of your camera you can get started here with my 4 Basics to Shoot in Manual Mode.
See my Oswego NY family photography here!