Set It and Forget It: A Case for Shooting in Program Mode

Have you learned to let go of technical perfection? 

If there are two things that are hammered into every photographer who pays attention to the educational circuit these days it is that they need to shoot in RAW and they need to shoot in manual mode. A camera’s controlled ‘auto’ mode is considered amateur or inferior, and while older cameras weren’t the best with metering (which leads to inaccurate auto mode settings), modern cameras are pretty darn good at it and can usually get you right around an ideal exposure – at least close enough that you can adjust to post.

While it is true that shooting in manual mode makes the most sense when you need fine control over the appearance of your RAW files, and that it makes learning about advanced photography easier, it is not true that camera controlled auto modes are inferior and don’t have a place. Eric Kim is a well-respected street photography educator and he has some thoughts on setting it and forgetting it, and why he prefers to use P mode.

You see, Eric, like many well-known photographers, has realized that the emotion found in the moment you take a photo is just as important (really more so) than the camera’s technical settings. A powerful image with strong emotion captured at the right time will always be a bigger hit than an image with perfect settings captured a moment too late.

So the moral of this story is that, yes, exposure settings are important, but they are not the be all end all of your images. If you are shooting in a situation where capturing a moment is key, then shooting in an auto-mode can be a huge help so long as you understand how your camera works.

While it is always preferable to get it right in camera, sometimes getting it close enough and learning to let go of technical perfection will do more for your imagery than a proper exposure ever will. So go out and give it a try, let go, and trust your abilities!

Find more like this from Eric on his Youtube Channel.

Anthony Thurston

Anthony is a Portland, Oregon based Boudoir Photographer specializing in a dark, moody style that promotes female body positivity, empowerment, and sexuality. Besides The Phoblographer, he also reviews gear and produces his own educational content on his website.