As you probably know I run dSLR manual camera workshops where I teach participants how to shoot in manual mode.
After we turn on the camera, we switch it to M for Manual and I propose a wild and wacky idea – that they leave their camera on manual from now on.
You can literally feel the fear shuddering around the room.
All too often my workshop participants say they’ve tried looking at the camera manual, they’ve tried the camera on a few different settings, it all got too hard and then they just … kind of … stopped shooting altogether.
I find this such a shame.
Like, a HUGE shame.
> If you own a set of fancy knives, it doesn’t make you a Michelin star chef.
It makes you the owner of a fancy set of knives.
> If you own a Porsche, it doesn’t make you a race car driver.
It makes you the owner of a fancy car.
It seems logical, right?
In photography, I’ve noticed that the consumer market have bought into this random idea that if you own a fancy camera, then you must be able to take great photos.
And yet, when they turn the camera on and start playing with it, not knowing which buttons actually do what, they end up taking photos like this:
If that was happening to me after I spent some serious coin on my new hobby I’d be feeling pretty frustrated. It’s no wonder that camera sales are dropping.
Reality strikes, the camera ends up in the cupboard or worse yet, on eBay.
I really have spent some time pondering what’s going on.
What’s happened is I’ve seen introduction of the dSLR camera to the consumer market, observed ads in magazines that say ‘buy this camera and shoot like a professional’ and seen scores of people out there with their cameras fumbling around not knowing which button to press first.
I believe it is totally pointless to buy a digital SLR camera if you’re not going to invest in using it properly.
But more importantly than that, I also believe it takes about a year to get up and running confidently with your dSLR camera in hobby/weekend mode.
Continual practice + continual effort = continual improvment.
I believe conquering your camera is totally possible so long as you’re prepared to put in the (fun) work to learn step by step how it all works together across camera, creativity and computer.
There is a lot to learn, but think of all the moments in your life that you could capture the way you really want to, if only you knew how to use this black box properly.
As I go on in my photography life I just come to love it more and more. I love how I can use my camera to fix or hold a passing moment forever. That simple little click that makes a fleeting experience permanent, just as you saw it in your mind’s eye.
It’s the most magical medium that transcends borders and languages barriers. It’s like music or food. It’s universal and it connects us in this really powerful and instantaneous way.
What about you? Where are you at with your dSLR camera? Feeling like you’re on top of it, or like it was a pointless purchase?