Opinion: Your Photography Sucks Because of Lazy Shooting Methods

Take your camera off of Aperture priority and become a more active part of the picture-taking process.

You’re lazy. Sometimes I’m lazy. Sometimes this staff is lazy. Sometimes even the best professional photographers are lazy. There is a part of me that wishes autofocus were never developed (but the flip side to that is that my legal blindness would sort of hinder my shooting abilities). And I think that we, as photographers, have come to rely too heavily on technology as a crutch. The best of us have used it to create and capture moments no one else has. But we’ve used access, anticipation, and understanding of moments to help immortalize those scenes in photographs. Know that I’m not saying there is something wrong with the way you shoot: it’s to hammer in the fact that if you make things harder for yourself and give yourselves challenges, you can create better images. And what better way to do that than to simply set things back to the bare essentials.

I’d like you to try the following:

  • Don’t use autofocus. Either zone focus or manually focus a scene. See how it changes the way you create and capture moments based on the type of photography you’re doing.
  • Don’t shoot in any of the automatic modes like shutter priority, aperture priority, and program auto. Shoot in just manual mode. See how that changes the way you shoot.
  • Shoot with a manual flash. See what it does for the way you light scenes. And if you’re not shooting with a flash, use one.
  • Shoot at only one ISO setting. Lock it in for a week. If you’re a film shooter, then you’ll understand everything this does for the way you create.
  • Shoot with manual white balance. Set the white balance in-camera and stop using auto mode. See what it does to the colors, and you’ll understand how it can change the way you create or capture scenes. You’ll have SOOO much fun.
  • Don’t use the electronic shutter settings.
  • Use an ND filter. If you’re a landscape shooter, then you’re all set here.

Go fully manual and entirely archaic. You’ll need to worry about everything in the scene you’re shooting. Get it in-camera; don’t use post-production as a crutch. See how this changes the type of creative you are. And give yourself an even better challenge: do this for half a year. If you really want to go on hard mode, do this with only one focal length. You’ll see that it fundamentally changes the type of photographer you are. You’ll start to create and capture in a specific way. You won’t rely on everything that the camera makes easier for you. After six months or a year (or any prolonged period), you’ll see how things change. And you’ll know how you become more actively involved in the creative process of either capturing or creating photos.

I think this is the big part here: being more actively involved in the process. Way too many people take what I believe are called casual snaps. They’re just casually shooting to their heart’s content. That’s fine. But I also think it’s up to all of us to push the edges of our own capabilities.

Try this for six months. Maybe do it for a year. See how you improve.