Faith + Full Time Focus | Mastering The Art of Shooting In Manual

I have found that on Friday’s when it comes time to post this week’s Faith + Full Tim Focus blog posts, I always get butterflies in my stomach and feel the urge to back out of the post.  The point of this series is to share things that I am learning as I grow both as a photographer and a boss lady.  I hope that other creatives and photographers that are just starting out are able to follow my journey and be inspired by my determination + growth.  With that being said, I still am filled with nerves whenever it comes time to admit that I am not perfect and I do not always have it all figured out.

This past weekend I attended the Waugh Point Workshop in King George, Virginia. (I will be posting about the entire workshop Monday, so stay tuned for that!)  Before we began the first of two styled shoots, one of the hosts began talking to me about shooting in manual.  I immediately became embarrassed as I stated that although I understand how to shoot in manual, I rarely did it.

The concept of shooting in manual is simple to grasp once you understand how aperture, shutter speed, and ISO all work together to produce an image.  The problem was that if I got nervous during a shoot, I immediately switch out of manual and back into my comfort zone which was the happy little P on my camera.  Program mode was what I knew how to use like that back of my hand and I was fast with it!  So, even if I started a session in Manual, I would always switch over to what I was comfortable with very shortly into the session.  Is this right? No.  But did I do it quite often? Yes.

I knew how to shoot in manual, but I was not as fast with it. I realize that speed will come with time and practice, but if I felt like I was moving a little slow getting my settings perfect during a shoot, I immediately panicked and switched out of manual to make sure that my clients felt as though I wasn’t skipping a beat!

I was challenged to step outside of my comfort zone during the workshop’s styled shoot and give myself an opportunity to shoot in manual all day.  I was reluctant, but I agreed that if I was going to ease myself into consistently shooting in manual, now was the time!  The images that I captured that day were amazingly beautiful and the exact style that I aim for in every shoot.  These were images that brought tears to my eyes at how beautiful they were and I was astonished that I was the one that had taken them.

I finally understood how much shooting in manual had an impact on getting the shots I wanted.  It all made sense in realizing that the occasional inconsistency in my images was due to the fact that I was not allowing myself to always shoot in manual.  When I was switching my camera out of manual, I was giving up a lot of the control I had over creating the image that I wanted.  This led to variations in my galleries and it left me with a critical eye + a slightly discouraged mindset.

It was an amazing experience to photograph a model in an environment that I was able to really take my time and focus on manual exposure + getting the shot right the first time.  After just one day of shooting consistently in manual, I have the confidence I needed and know that manual will now always be my go to setting on my camera. 

My point in sharing this is that I know a lot of us are scared of manual exposure and while we may understand how to shoot in manual, we all have our comfort zone with our camera settings and we often times revert back to those comfort zones.  

If this sounds like you, if you are afraid of shooting in manual, or if you are having a hard time with the consistency in your shots- I challenge you to the same challenge that I accepted at the Waugh Point Workshop.

 I challenge you to take a day to do nothing but shoot in manual.  Welcome a friend over for a few updated head shots!  Make a fun styled shoot out of your time together!  Any way that you are able to make it work- just do it.  Allow yourself the opportunity to step outside of you comfort zone.  Don’t allow yourself to revert back to anything other than manual, and take your time to understand the settings that you are adjusting and the impact they are having on your images.

Mastering manual is one action that I promise you will not regret.  You will have so much control over the images you are producing.  Once you understand how each setting impacts your image, the consistency in your photos will become clearer and I bet that you’ll be a lot happier with the results!

I only shot about 500 images during the all day workshop.  Many of you probably are shocked at that number because I can easily get 500 images from a one hour session.  The difference during the styled shoot was that I took my time and I got it right the first time.  Instead of shooting 10 of the same image and praying that one of those images looked fabulous, I was able to create a beautiful image on the first try.

Yes, maybe it will take a try or two (or four!) to get your settings to be exactly how you want them, but once you master this, you’re really going to feel an amazing sense of accomplishment!!

Best of luck to you friend, I know you can do it! xo
 

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