Trust Your Camera

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Sometimes it’s okay to trust your camera.

We spend a lot of time talking about using aperture priority, or shutter priority, or full manual mode. We teach you how to “take control” of your camera and dictate the outcome of your photographs for yourself. We show you how to compensate for your camera’s perceived weaknesses – exposure compensation, focus lock, metering modes, and always, “Shoot in RAW so you can fix it!”

Well, you know what? It’s perfectly alright to trust that your camera is going to to the job that you ask it to do.

This concept came to my mind earlier this week, when I was talking to a friend of mine who is just beginning to get into photography. A first-time DSLR user, she was intimated by all of the options, cascading menus, buttons and dials. She said to me, “I’m embarrassed to admit that I have to use this camera like a point-and-shoot. I feel like if I can’t explain exactly how to set up the camera to get a shot, I have no business taking pictures in the first place. I feel like I can’t take credit for my pictures, because the camera did all the work. I just want to have fun taking pictures and be proud of the shots I take.”

I was quick to reassure her that she was by no means “dumb” for not knowing how her camera works but wanting to get out there and take pictures anyway. I have ALWAYS preached that it isn’t the camera, but the photographer who takes great photos. Her feelings certainly provided me with some food for thought. How many people want a DSLR to learn on, but feel like their contributions and creations aren’t “worthy” because they were using their camera on full Auto or Program mode?

How many of you have felt that way?

Many of us find our joy in the technical aspects of photography, and knowing that we possess the acumen to achieve the shot we have in mind under any set of circumstances. There absolutely is joy in that – I feel it myself every time I pick up my camera and assess the shot. However, we need to remember the simple joy of looking through the viewfinder and pressing the shutter button. That was, after all, the first appeal of photography that caused us to pursue the passion. The camera makes us sees the world differently, and therefore makes us see ourselves differently. That insight shouldn’t be shadowed by a diminished sense of accomplishment.

There is something liberating about shooting in Auto or Program mode. It gives you permission to forget about everything else but what you see through the lens. It allows you to concentrate on composition and trust that the camera will get the exposure right for you. It teaches you the practical application of the exposure triangle, when you look at the settings that the camera chose for you that achieved an appealing shot.

So, if you find yourself in a similar circumstance, where you haven’t YET acquired a lot of technical knowledge, just get out there and shoot! The rest will take care of itself in time. We all need to remember to enjoy just having the camera in our hands.

I just wanted to offer a little bit of inspiration and encouragement on this Monday morning. Plus, I want to remind everyone to enter our next photo contest. You have until November 15th to submit your photos!

All photos, which were taken in Program mode, copyright Tiffany Joyce.

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  • Phil Photoman

    I shot film for over 30 years before going to digital. My first time out with my DSLR was a fiasco. Every photo was overexposed–very, very overexposed. Every frame was black! I went from M to Auto the next day! I shot in Auto for a year, as I slowly learned the ins and outs of my DSLR. I didn’t even know how to set the aperture! (I do now). Was I ashamed to shoot in Auto? Nope! Did I want to learn? Yes, and I did. Great post

  • Julia Agnes

    Thanks a lot for this post!