Updated: Sep 1, 2022
Pssh...I remember the day I finally grasped the concept of how aperture, shutter speed and ISO worked together....
and that was three years after my first photography class in high school. Yeah, for real. So embarrassing to admit but it's the truth! I went three full years of taking portraits and saying yes to every inquiry under the sun. I'd take a few hundred photos every session and had to throw out what felt like half. I wasn't understanding the ins and outs of how my camera truly functioned manually. The “exposure trio” if you will. But oh man, once it finally clicked, that was a pivotal moment within my creativity and style development.
There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with using other automated modes that your camera provides, however, they can limit you. And for anyone who strives to discover and develop their own personal style that others recognize you for, then it is vital to have a firm grasp on operating a camera manually.
"But Ellen, can't I just create my own style by buying or creating presets and filters for my images?"
Yes you absolutely can do that! But what if you wanted to make a waterfall look milky and soft? Or create a really crisp and dark sky against a bright landscape? Maybe you can't quite nail that soft and ethereal moody tone to your portraits or know what settings to shoot the night sky? What if you were shooting your first wedding and it's both outdoors and indoors? Can you navigate the settings of your camera to get a proper exposure and still not miss capturing the moment? These are all questions and instances I once ran into myself. Nothing like being under prepared in the knowledge department, especially in high pressure situations!
It's one thing to know the functions, but it is another to understand how they work and flow together. When those light bulbs finally flipped on for me, creative levels went on full blast! My style wasn't consistent at all for a while but when I wanted to execute an idea, I suddenly knew the steps to take and make it come to life all in camera. I tried everything! I'd put my own spin on ideas I found on Pinterest or messed around by hopping on trends circling through Instagram that would challenge and force me to become so familiar with my camera and its functions. Looking back, I found that this experimental phase was incredibly important before I could begin defining a unique and recognizable personal style.
Steal like an artist as Austin Kleon say's, author of the book who's title is literally "Steal Like an Artist." He goes in depth on this very concept including done is better than perfect and overcoming the challenges of imposter syndrome. When I read this quick, easy and enlightening read for the first time, it helped ignite a flame to just simply practice the craft and create.
So anyways! I created this guide to help you go from that frustrating starting point to competency in just a few days instead of a few years. It's my great privilege to share this knowledge I wish I had when I was just starting out with you today. Just click the button below to grab it and dive in to some photographic clarity.