Let’s get the facts straight: you’re not going to learn how to take compelling photographs by asking for other people’s camera settings or their EXIF data. Sure, you can get away with it for the first few times when you’re still a complete beginner fiddling with your camera’s controls. But you will never truly learn how to be a photographer with your own style and vision if you continue this bad practice.
This is the frustration of author and photographer Tony Northrup, but I’m sure many others are also shaking their heads in annoyance whenever they’re asked for their camera settings. For one, it’s a common practice for photographers today to use both auto and manual modes for their photos to get the results they want. Second, there’s more to a truly outstanding photograph than getting someone else’s camera settings and using them for your photos. Third, the post-process now allows photographers to fix whatever issues they had while taking the shot.
Tony explains his stand on this matter in the video below.
Tony also wanted to make it clear that he wasn’t undermining the importance of getting the camera settings right. What he wanted to focus on, however, was that there are many different elements, factors, and circumstances that come into play with every impressive photograph. Your creative vision (or the lack of it), the people you meet for every photo opportunity, the time of the day during your shoot, the quality of light at a given moment, the possibilities made available by your shooting location, and sometimes even a pinch of luck all play important roles that simply knowing what camera settings another photographer used won’t provide.
Also, the gear you’re using could be significantly different than another photographer’s. If this is the case, knowing the camera settings he or she used won’t give you the same results.
Lastly, asking for the camera settings is simply a lazy way to learn or practice photography. There are many useful resources now available everywhere that could effectively teach you how your camera works, what each setting is for, and what kind of photos you can get with a combination of each setting. If you’re just starting out in photography, begin your journey by learning how to manage your own camera controls. Master manual photography as much as possible, so you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to make each setting work for the conditions available to you and the results you want.
Make sure to check out Tony’s YouTube channel if you want to learn his tips, tricks, and takes on everything photography.