Opinion: P is for Professional Mode. A is for Amateur Mode

I don’t want to sit here and incite some sort of extreme anger over the fact that I may have called you an amateur for shooting in aperture priority, but I’d like you to at least hear me out and realize that this post is more of a call to action on your behalf than to put you down. So let me just dive right into it.

For years and years we have been conditioned as photographers to simply capture the moment. You point, shoot, and you get a photo. That’s it. It’s super simple. There’s nothing more to it and as years went on technology has found a way to cater more and more towards what we want. So when photographers start out shooting these days, they may just shoot in auto mode or the scene modes and let the camera do all the work except for framing. With the right intentions that can be a fabulous tool for a photographer to learn the more artistic part of it all. It removes you from the technical parts of aperture and all that. So to that end, shooting in aperture priority or program made could work well too.

But the root of the argument is in simply capturing a moment.  Capturing is cool, but why not create a moment? Why not interact with the subject in front of you? Why not move on from basic street photography to portraiture? Or find a way to work with a subject at a wedding to get beautiful portraits of them that they’ll love? Capturing the moment is so incredibly simple these days that when I find myself saying it outloud in meetings and with colleagues that it begins to annoy me in the same way that we’ve been conditioned to say things like “The Human condition” or “F8 and be there.” They’re just marketing lingo in one way or another.

This all really dawned on me the other day when I sat there half jokingly discussing the idea of sparkling water with a friend. I mean, think about it; we call it sparkling water. But all that it really is is water with some carbonation in it. Add some sort of mix to it and it’s a soda. Sparkling water is surely also more highly regarded than seltzer water. Though to actually make it catch on, just think about it for a second. Someone had to literally just sit there thinking about what to call their product. Imagine, if you will, a Mad Men-esque scene with suits in a room trying to figure out a way to brand a product. “Carbonated water: it’s it’s refreshing on a summer day.” No…that sounds awful.

So what does the water do? It sparkles. Sparkling water! Yes! Let’s call it sparkling water.

Now imagine that in regards to photography. Capturing the moment is something that relates to all of us. But at one time or another, we were all children and had an imagination that created things and played pretend. So why can’t we do that with our photography?

Why can’t we go create a scene or a moment? Why can’t we dictate every single thing about the image to make it as close to our reality vs what we see? Why can’t we find a way as photographers in general to differentiate ourselves from all the algorithms out there trying to simply just do the work for us?

Of course, some of us do. But when you look at that type of work, that is clearly a million times different from all the rest out there where people say “I can do that.” No. No you can’t–in the case of something that has been created. Can you create and mimic Annie Leibovitz’s scenes? I doubt it.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.