I saw this post on Facebook a few days ago from Photography World that said, "Everyone is a photographer until". It had an image of dial settings pointing to the "M" for manual on a camera. I couldn’t help but laugh because...well, for one, I love witty humor. Secondly, I liked the minimal design. But, I think every sarcasm-loving photographer working professionally at this craft probably liked the post. I did lol!
Personally, I don’t think you have to know manual to take a great-looking photograph if you know what you’re doing with light and composition, etc. As Chase Jarvis, the creator of CreativeLive wrote, "The best camera is the one you have with you." While I'm not sure that book went over very well with everyone, I still thought his statement was valid.
I have to admit, while I will always get a kick out of a little shade, I felt a little guilty for liking the post so much. I mean, I definitely get it. Today, photographers have to find ways to set their work apart and offer value to a culture in love with sharing their moments-themselves-by phone. Low-key dragging your pool of possible clients might be a way to go lol. But, historically, not everyone has felt welcome to photography as it is.
There are tons of photography forums where a photographer, male or female, that just asks a technical question can get pummeled by the responses by other users who think you should know the answer before you ask (insert rolleyes here). Thankfully, in the time we live in, they've been answered by groups like Lensational, The Queen Photographers, and Clickin Moms that give girls, women, and in some cases, specifically women of color (a whole ‘nother discussion), a place to grow and receive support while shaping their own narratives. I don't know about you, but I’m a huge fan of #girlpower, #womensempowerment and definitely #blackgirlmagic in all its forms.
Come to think of it, I don't recall getting any badges of honor for learning Manual.
In fact, quiet as kept, a lot of professional photographers use other modes too like Aperture or Shutter Priority, depending on the circumstances. Some even use (gasp!) Auto. But, I do think a knowledge of Manual puts them in control for achieving the results they want with their camera. If you are a #creative, (and deep down, many of us are), knowing your way around a camera's Manual Mode can be helpful to you too. At the very least, it will level you up so that when you say you’re a photographer, snarky photographers aren’t making t-shirts like these behind your back. ;)
You might say, "Yeah, but my phone can do so much more than a camera.”
Um…..Yes and no.
In my opinion, one of the best things about a camera is, unlike your camera phone, it doesn’t care about your contact list or your social media platform of choice. It couldn’t care less about setting an alarm for you. If you get lost on your way around the corner, it can’t help you, and doesn’t want to.
Your camera is only interested in making *exposures*, periodt.
What that means is, when you spend time with your camera, it can be purely about the creative aspect of taking a photo and creating a highly personal, visual narrative of sorts that feeds only you, sans the interruptions and distractions we've all become trained to attend to the second they arrive in our notification bars…It can be something you do for YOU. You know...that person that got lost underneath the multitude of hats you wear and the to-do list that never ends, Those visual notes are yours alone...unless, after some reflection, you choose to share them with the world. I mean, sharing is caring. But, being still and knowing...now that's love.
And as I’ve come to learn over and over again, sometimes, the secret place and that time of solitude and reflection is the self-care point you missed this week. Let the world take care of itself for a minute.
You can't stop to smell the roses (or the coneflowers for that matter), if you don't first, stop.
Next post, we're digging into the exposure triangle.