I can remember the days when I picked up my first camera. Everything felt REALLY overwhelming, and I thought I’d never figure out the dang thing.
The truth is that it took me a really long time to finally master my camera. It wasn’t because it was overly difficult, or some intricate process to understanding how it works. It was simply because I believed so many lies about photography and taking better pictures, that I never invested the time or energy into actually just sitting down with the camera, and trying to understand what exactly it was capable of, and how I could maximize the camera to finally get the results I was after.
I’ve put together a list of 5 lies about taking better photos that you SHOULDN’T believe, so you, too, can get brave and start learning how to use your camera, and start taking beautiful, frame worthy photos.
MYTH #1 – MANUAL MODE IS FOR THE PROS
Ooooh, manual mode. I feel like anyone who has ever picked up a camera for the first time has felt overwhelmed at the prospect of it. So many buttons, inverse relationships, etc. etc. It’s easy to believe the lie that manual mode should be left for the pros!
Here’s the simple truth – I want you to know – manual mode is NOT just for the pros. Manual mode is simply a way to take control of the camera, and make sure we are setting it up in a way that gets us the results we want, not the camera’s best guess. Automatic modes are great – but we are letting the camera what the artistic look and feel of the image is. By using manual mode, we can create blurry backgrounds, freeze motion (bye bye blurry toddlers!), and create beautiful, light filled images.
MYTH #2 – YOU CAN EDIT OUT THE BAD STUFF IN LIGHTROOM OR POST PROCESSING
Here’s the truth about editing in programs like Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom. While they can help with simple mistakes like a slightly crooked image, or a picture that was a little under-exposed (aka a great shot but just a little too dark!), it can’t fix poor lighting choices, bad composition, and harsh shadows on your subjects face.
It’s true – every image I take runs through Adobe Lightroom, but it’s simply to enhance the colors and make things pop, as well as make other minor adjustments like straightening, exposure adjustments and removing small blemishes. It’s so important to get it right in camera first, then simply use editing software to enhance the image one step further.
MYTH #3 – COMPOSITION DOESN’T MATTER
The truth is that a great photo is so much more than a blurred background and a subject that is sharp and in focus. The beauty of photographs is that they have the power to take us back to a specific time and place. We have the opportunity to relive a story again and again because of the power of photographs. Our goal as our own family’s storyteller, aka the photographer, is to capture the story so that when we look back, we can remember all the beautiful details that made it special.
Composition is one of the most important elements of a photo! As the photographer, it’s our goal to guide our viewers to the most important parts of an image. Using composition principles like the Rules of Thirds, helps turn snapshots into beautiful, compelling, emotion filled images that draw us in and want to see more.
MYTH #4 – I’M NOT CREATIVE ENOUGH TO TAKE GOOD PICTURES
Ooooh mama. This might be the worst lie of them all. If this were true, I’d still be sitting at a desk in a sad, dingy insurance company office, dreaming of running my own business and living life on MY terms.
Today, I am a full time professional lifestyle family and newborn photographer, as well as a graphic and web designer for other photographers. If you had told my college school self that I’d be running a full time creative business (and making more than I ever did in corporate America!), I would have never believed you. I did not believe I was a creative person. I was raised to believe that you get a job at a good company, climb the ladder as best you can, and just work and save money until you retire at 65.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that path, however, it was so engrained in me that I’d have a “professional” job that I never considered that I might have any kind of creativity in myself.
Let me just tell you how “uncreative” my background is. As a child, I was always good at numbers. I always got my best grades in math and I can remember whizzing through high school geometry so easily, that I legit fell asleep at my desk during class one afternoon because I was so bored. I remember that very vividly, mostly because the teacher coming by to kick the legs of my chair scared the heck out of me. Oops!
When I went to college, I took the path of least resistance – you guessed it, more numbers. It all came easily to me, and I whizzed through my college degree, crossing things off the list as I went. I have a degree in Business/Finance from the University of Florida, and just knew I’d be destined for a life of crunching numbers at a desk.
I am SO proud of my degree, and the education I received, but to be honest – the job itself sucked the life out of me. I cried the entire 9 hour drive from Tampa, FL to Greensboro, NC because I was so distraught at the thought of working at a desk.
I didn’t pick up a camera until I was 25. It wasn’t pretty at first, but slowly, over many years of fumbling through the hard way, I figured it out. I developed systems and patterns for creating beautiful pictures again and again. I eventually started a business, one that allowed me to leave the job in corporate finance that I just didn’t love.
The truth was that the creativity was in me all along, but I never pushed myself to believe it was there until that amazing period of my life. Creativity is a learned and nurtured skill, and I am proof of that.
MYTH #5 – YOU CAN’T TAKE GREAT PHOTOS UNLESS YOU HAVE EXPENSIVE GEAR.
One of the most frustrating things I hear as a photographer is “Wow – that’s a great picture. You must have a fancy camera!”
Oy. This one line just hurts my heart to hear. It both saddens and angers me all in one hot swift rush of emotion.
It’s simply not the case.
If you take anything away from this blog post, I want you to know this simple truth:
“It’s not about the gear. It’s about the skill and knowledge of the person using it.”
It doesn’t matter how much money you paid for a high end, professional line lens, or whether or not you have the latest and greatest when it comes to camera bodies. I’ve seen less than stellar results with the nicest gear out there, and incredible results with entry level cameras.
It doesn’t matter if your camera is 5 years old, or if a newer better version is now on the market. What matters most about your camera – is what you do with it.
Photography is often touted as a very expensive hobby. There is some truth to that – it can get REALLY expensive, really fast. But mama, it doesn’t have to.
I shot the below series of lifestyle images with an entry level DSLR (a Canon Rebel T2i) and a $125 lens (the Canon 50mm 1.8). This setup is a FRACTION of the cost of my professional line camera, and you guys – the results are incredible. These are beautiful images that I’d be proud to hang on my wall.
I also shot THESE with an entry level camera – a Canon Rebel T2i and a 50mm 1.8 lens. This set up probably costs around $500 total, if that.
Here’s another example, shot with a Sony A6500 and 30mm 1.4 Sigma lens that I bought used for about 1/3 the cost of my professional quality gear.
So why did these turn out so great? Because I maximized the features of the camera, and told it exactly what I wanted it to do. I didn’t rely on automatic mode, or the camera’s best guess, to take the photos. I took control of the camera, rather than letting it take control of me! (Boom pow take that camera!)
Do you want to learn more?
Check out my resources page for more helpful tools on learning photography! If you are ready to fast track your photography skills, check out this free training for more of my story, and how you can start taking beautiful, frame-worthy photos!