As photographers, we are forever evolving, forever learning. We evolve by reviewing our own work with a critical eye, asking what could be improved, where and how the process could be improved.
Almost a year ago I made conscious decision to shoot in manual, setting the shutter and aperture as well as the ISO and white balance, taking total control of the photographic process
There are problems shooting in aperture priority mode (Av). Firstly, if you’re not careful, the shutter speed will go too low which at best will give a slight softness to the images and at worst clear evidence of motion just when you don’t want it. Secondly, shooting bright white, such as a bride’s wedding dress, or black, such as groom’s suit, requires the photographer to compensate for the inadequacy of the camera’s built in light meter. So if the camera needs adjusting to get white whites and black blacks, then you may as well be shooting manual.
Since May last year I have shot everything in manual, from weddings to theatre productions. It slows you down, makes you think about what you are doing – there’s no skill in setting your camera to Program Mode (P) and taking a long sequence of images as the bride and groom pose before they cut the cake. This technique gives a large image count; some photographers quote 3 maybe 4,000 images from one wedding! Surely by the law of averages there are going to be some good shots and by the same principle a lot more bad ones or just pure repitition.
Shooting manual makes you think. You still get the shot by learning when to press the button – anticipating moments is key. Yes you end up with less images but there is a higher keep rate, less work to do afterwards no matter how efficient the post production workflow is. The key thing here is that you can deliver a high number of individual high quality images.
The benefit to the clients therefore is a quicker turnround time and bizarrely, less choice. If you give somebody the choice of 10 flavours of ice cream they’ll take longer to choose; give them 2 or 3 and the decision is made much quicker. Imagine you are selecting just 40 images for your album from 3000. How long will that take? Shoot manual, shoot less and improve your photography and clients’ experience!