Why shooting on manual mode on your camera is way better than auto

Anne JohnstonPhotography tips and inspiration1 Comment

Why shooting on manual mode is way better than auto

Do you feel like all you want to do is learn to take better photos, but everybody is telling you that you should be shooting on manual? I know that it seems like there’s a lot to learn and you’re wondering if it really is worth the effort. I’ve been a photographer for over 5 years and love to help my clients take control over their cameras so they can understand what they need to do to take amazing photos. I believe that manual is where the magic happens and I’m going to share with you why it’s waaaay better than using automatic.

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Why do photographers shoot on manual mode?

You have a camera that is very capable of taking great photos, but everybody is telling you you’re not a good photographer if you’re not shooting on manual. “You’re not shooting on manual? Who do you even think you are?”, “call yourself a photographer and you’re not even shooting on manual?”

Yeah, there’s a lot of those losers out there in Facebook groups that insist on telling you what you need to do. Do you know what? Just ignore them and remember you’re carving out your own path.

If you’re quite happy shooting on automatic that’s absolutely ok. But if you’re intrigued, read on…

What are the limitations of using your camera’s automatic mode?

When you put your camera on automatic mode, it’s going to try its hardest to give you a nice photo. Yes, you read that right. I said “nice”. Not amazing. Not fantastic. Not wow. Just, well, nice. But don’t worry, there is a better way.

The problem with taking photos on automatic is that you don’t have any control, really, over how your pictures are going to turn out. You’re basically saying to your camera, “Do your thing. Give me a nice photo”. Because when it’s on automatic, your camera will give you a nice balanced photo that’s not too light and it’s not too dark. And that’s all it will do.

But if you’ve got somebody in your picture, imagine it’s your kids running around just doing their thing at the beach, auto gives you a nice image that isn’t overexposed, and it’s not underexposed, but your kids might turn out really blurry. That’s because you don’t have any control over the shutter speed and you need a nice fast shutter speed to capture movement fast.

What types of photos can you take on manual mode?

When you learn to use your camera’s manual mode, anything is possible. Your only limit is your imagination!


With manual mode you can use the aperture to draw your attention to one part of your image and throw the rest out of focus, giving you that nice blurry background

Sun rising over the sea in Arbroath

You can use a shutter speed of several seconds (also known as a long exposure) on manual mode to blur water

Arbroath harbour sunrise

With manual mode you can use a high ISO and a long exposure together to take photos of the Northern Lights at night

Why does manual mode give you better photos?

When you’re using manual mode it allows to you control ALL the things.

If you’ve got people moving in your picture and you want to make sure that they’re nice and sharp in the frame, then you can absolutely do that by controlling the shutter speed.

If you want to have images that have the nice blurry background, then you can do that too by controlling the aperture. Yip everyone wants the nice blurry background!

If you’re at the beach on a nice summer’s evening and you’re watching the sun go down, there might be a pier in the photograph and you think, “Yes, I want to capture that,” but as a silhouette. Then when you use manual mode you can absolutely do that too because manual mode is all about taking control of your camera.

And if you want to go out and photograph the northern lights in the middle of the night then you can do that too when you learn to shoot on manual.

With manual mode you’re the one making the decisions so you’re going to have much better photos, I promise you.

Wouldn’t you rather try and see what you’re really capable of?

Over to you

I would love to help you take back control of your camera and learn to take amazing photos.

Sign up for my free photography course below and you’ll be well on your way.