Confession: I had done what (I assume) a lot of bloggers had done. I invested in a nice camera (a Sony A6000), hoping that would up my photography game and take it to a new level. But I didn’t put a lot of effort into learning my new camera. Sure I YouTubed some things, but I never got the information truly into my muscles and into practice. I invested in a camera that was capable of the most beautiful images, and then I stayed safely on auto and wasn’t always thrilled with the results.
Then a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet someone awesome and learn something awesome. And whenever you have an opportunity to learn and improve, you take it. Karen Kirsh is a local (Seattle) photographer who was piloting some one-on-one sessions on manual shooting. This woman takes beautiful photos and knows her stuff, so I couldn’t wait to learn a few things.
Karen went over three basic, but so important, camera features that give you the skills and confidence to finally start shooting in manual mode. The above photo is the result of a first photo session feeling more comfortable working with what the equipment I had. More dining room photos coming soon!
Why not auto?
You might as well be shooting with your iPhone if you’re always stuck on Auto. Yes, you can get great photos on your iPhone and on automatic mode, but everything will be even and the colors will lack depth. You’ll lack control. You’ll miss an opportunity to have beautiful photography that stops those Instagram scrollers in their tracks.
Why did I spend all that money on a nice camera and not learn how to use it? It was a rookie mistake that I needed to fix. The settings Karen taught me about that changed the game: ISO, Aperture and shutter speed. These three elements make your photos look smooth, focused and bright.
- ISO: This was one that was a complete mystery to me and was the culprit of some ruined photo shoots when I was just starting out. This can bring more light AND grain into a photo. And you can’t always tell you turned this up too far until you’re editing on the computer.
- Aperture: This works like the pupil of the eye. With this, you can focus on the entire room or just an object in it. The lower your ISO, the smoother your image will look. The higher the ISO, the grainier your image will look, but will be more flexible in low light.
- Shutter Speed: This is the one I knew about, but still struggled with. It’s the easiest way to make your images bright. It’s also the easiest way to make your photos blurry. The more you lower the shutter speed, the more likely you’ll need a tripod to remove potential movement.
Karen walked through these settings on my actual camera. We even went through some past photoshoots and talked settings I could have used instead to up the image’s end result. She was also a treasure trove of other photography knowledge, and she was there to answer it all.
My failed photography
I spent hours on this shooting, sourcing product and styling. The photos looked great in the viewfinder, then I went to edit and I felt like they were grainy beyond repair. These photos never saw the light of day, until now! I hope with the skills Karen taught I’ll never find myself in the position of having worked so hard on something and never get to show it. If you need help, take a look at her one-on-one sessions. Having good equipment is one thing, knowing how to use it is another!