The number one frustration I hear from photographers is that they struggle to get the images they see in their head, or at least consistently! Sure, they may luck out from time to time and snag a great shot, but they can’t repeat it, and their photos never end up quite looking the way they wanted them to…
If that’s you too, then you are not alone! I literally spent years feeling the exact same thing, so believe me when I tell you that I totally get where you’re coming from :-)
There are usually the same key areas holding you back, and stopping you getting the photos you want - and it’s usually because you believed a certain myth around photography. One that allows you to stay in your comfort zone than take the steps you need to take to get great photos.
That’s why in this blog post, I’m going to set the record straight about what it takes (or more specifically what it doesn’t take!) to get the photos you want - and what myths might the ones holding you back…
Myth #1 - You don’t think you need to learn manual mode
I spent years in Aperture Priority mode, and never once thought that NOT making the switch to manual mode was what was holding me back. After all, why would I need to? The only thing the camera was doing was balancing the final exposure for me, right?!
Although you definitely don’t need to go onto shoot in manual mode all the time (if you don’t want to) it is SO so so important that you actually learn to shoot in manual mode.
Manual mode gives you the most creative control over how your images look, will help you take great photos in tricky lighting, and it will also help by giving you more consistent exposures in one scene.
But most importantly, it’s only when you shoot in manual mode that you actually understand how your camera works. Which means you then know when to use manual mode, or if you use another mode, how your camera is going to react and how you can adjust for it.
I’ve lost count about how many times I’ve heard someone say “oh, I just look to see what my camera would give me in AUTO / Aperture mode, then use those same settings on manual”. (Which kinda makes me want to cry, just a teeny tiny bit)
Here’s the thing, that “balancing of exposure in the same way your camera would” is literally Lesson ONE in our module on shooting in manual mode in my Auto to Awesome program. We have another SEVEN lessons after that, all on shooting in manual mode (and that’s not including all the foundation work we do in the 8 lesson module before that!) which I hope gives you an idea of how much more there is to it!
So yes, it does take a bit of effort to learn manual mode, and yes, it’s hard at first!
But I promise you this, once you’ve truly learnt manual mode, you’ll feel like you’ve unlocked the key to photography - it’s really that much of a game-changer.
(If you want a bit more info on just three of the reasons you should switch from Aperture Priority Mode to Manual Mode, have a read of this!)
To give you some help getting started, you can also download my FREE manual mode cheat sheet, which will give you some guidance on which settings to use! Go here to grab it.
Myth #2 - Having more expensive gear will give you better photos
One of the things that you really need to let go of is the idea that you need a latest highest spec camera and the professional grade L lens in order to get amazing images.
Although these definitely can give you far more options, and can handle certain situations better, for the most part, your gear is nothing more than the tools that allow you to take a great picture to within your abilities.
So, handing the latest Canon 5dMk4 with a 135mm F2 L lens to a beginner will not make the blindest bit of difference to their photos. It’s basically like handing a Formula 1 race car to my Gran, her using it to drive to the store and back, all the while keeping it in cruise control.
It’s also why you can hand an entry level camera (or even an iPhone) to a pro photographer and they will be able to create magic with it. Sure, they’ll be inconvenienced because they won’t have the same range of options as they’d like, but that won’t stop them creating a great photo.
It’s the skills, knowledge, years of experience and practice that creates the images you see from the pros you admire - not their gear.
Let me be clear, I am not for one second saying that gear doesn't matter, because there’s no denying that image QUALITY will improve. But great image quality does not a great photo make :-)
All you need to take beautiful images are a camera, a lens, a memory card, and ideally, a grey card - anything else can wait until you feel you’ve truly outgrown your current camera because you know it inside out, and you know exactly why it’s holding you back.
So when you’re about to purchase something, ask yourself if it helps with getting the key foundations right - learning your craft - if it doesn't, my advice is to leave it on the shelf and invest in something that does.
Investing in learning rather than in any gadgets or a new lens is the singular best thing you can do to improve your photography skills, and getting the photos you want.
Myths #3 - I can’t shoot today because…the light is low/ the sun is out/ it’s raining / the light is bad
Repeat after me: there is no such thing as bad light for photography.
Provided you have some light (simply because you need at least a little light to actually take a photo!) you can create amazing images.
In fact, some of best images are usually ones that are taken with what new photographers might call “bad” light - such as low light or sunny days - as these tend to be much more dramatic and give you those WOW images you see from your faves!
The trick is to learn what kind of images you can make with the light you have available.
Basically, even the conditions you think of as bad will give the best pictures ever when you know how to use them!
That’s why in our Auto to Awesome course, we literally teach you how to shoot in all different types of light - from sunny days, to cloudy days to the golden hour, to indoor light to low light!
(Sound good? Get on the Auto to Awesome waitlist here! We’re opening the doors again soon)
Myth #4 - If I just.keep.practising. it will all come together.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, practice is INCREDIBLY important for becoming a better photographer. Absolutely no doubt about it.
But it’s also so important that you learn the RIGHT things to practise, otherwise, you’re just making the same mistakes over and over and over and over and over again.
Sure, you might luck out from time to time and get a shot you love, but then you can’t recreate it, because you don’t know what you did to get it in the first place!
The key here is to learn a concept, practise it until you have it down, and move onto the next one, layering on the information in a way that makes it all seem easy and effortless.
If you’re tearing your hair out over photography, it’s probably because you’re practising the wrong thing (or the right thing but in the wrong order!) and hoping to learn through trial and error. I’m not saying that you can’t eventually be successful this way, but you really are making the whole thing 10x more stressful and take 100x longer.
I created Auto to Awesome specifically to simplify the whole process of learning photography. We lay EVERYTHING out for you, step by step, in the order you need to learn it, so you can get results in weeks rather than years. You can get on the waitlist to find out more about the program here!
I hope that what we’ve talked about today makes learning photography feel more approachable and accessible, and gets rid of any misconceptions that’s been holding you back!
Now, I’d love to know, have you experienced any of these myths or limiting beliefs on your photography journey? Just leave a comment below with your thoughts and I’ll get back to you!