Real Photographers Shoot in Manual Mode – Nah!

Real photographers shoot in manual mode.

Taken in Manual Or Something Else?

I’m a real photographer and I shoot in manual mode. But it doesn’t stop there. I also shoot in aperture priority mode. Sometimes I also shoot in shutter speed mode. The mode I shoot in depends on what I’m doing and how much time I have.

Modern cameras are great. Changing shooting mode is just a question of spinning a wheel so why not use them all? But on top of that, we also have custom modes we can set!

So when do I shoot in manual mode? Mostly for weddings when I’m in one spot and the light isn’t changing much. So during the wedding ceremony, the speeches, the formals and when using a flash. Now the only reason I do that is that it’s easier to edit a whole batch of photographs that have all been taken at the same exposure. I simply edit the first image to my own personal tastes and then batch edit all the others in one go. Takes seconds. I shoot manual to save me time in editing. It goes without saying that I choose my ISO.

I’ll change the mode to aperture priority (which is my custom mode 1 which is also set to auto ISO) when the bride and groom are about to walk outside the church on a summers day. At this point, I just want the shot and am happy to let the camera choose the shutter speed. Incidentally, the camera is set to take any image in this custom setting at 1/125s at least. In the bright sun that will easily go to 1/1000s. This is my default setting if I see something and don’t have time to think I go to custom mode 1 and I’m good to go.

If I see a shot with for example of children playing and running I will change to shutter speed mode and select a shutter speed that will freeze them without blurring.

When I am out the shooting mode I choose if often just instinctive and depends on the lens I have on the camera and what’s in the frame that I intend to photograph. So as an example:

Inside a building – aperture priority if nothing moving and manual ISO.

Inside a building and something moving – shutter speed priority and auto ISO.

Shooting landscapes – manual or aperture priority depending on mood.

The Truth

The fact is it doesn’t matter if you shoot in manual or not. It doesn’t make you professional. Just use the mode you prefer and have a system in place that you autonomously use. Until I wrote this I was not fully aware of what I did and why. It was a system I have built myself and just use without even thinking about it. There is my second truth in this paragraph. Don’t overthink photography!

I can quote numerous well know professional photographers who shot in all different modes (including P-Mode). I’ve never had a customer ask what mode I shoot in. Only other photographers!

With photography what you get is more important than how you got it.

The above image was taken in manual mode in Lincoln Cathedral. I was doing so as I was testing a camera with an electronic viewfinder. If you want to improve your photography go and visit a local cathedral. They’re a hidden gem for photographers learning to find the light. If I ever want to test a new lens or a camera I go straight to Norwich Cathedral!

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