"Oh, you own a DSLR? You think you're some kind of photographer or something?"
(Included in this blog is one of the memes I found that inspired this blog entry, so if you're viewing this from a mobile device, please scroll to the bottom of the page to view it. I feel it to be pertinent supplemental material to get my point across.)
This weeks blog was inspired by my weekend internet surfing (does anyone even use that term anymore?). Looking for some photographer-type humor to chuckle at, I get on Google and start browsing through a bunch of photographer memes. While searching, I stumbled upon a bunch of them that almost seem to treat the "P" (program) and "A" (automatic) modes of a DSLR as untouchable, and that it's okay to immediately chastise anyone who uses program mode or goes full-auto.
I also think that I feel so strongly about this for this reason (click here).
Initially, this kind of thing gets a chuckle out of me, but I also wonder "why do we get so defensive over our choice of gear?" It's as though some people only believe that DSLR cameras are only for the elite, which we could logically consider ourselves to be in order to generate and buy into this type of mindset. The rationale, for me, would be that there's a higher level of skill that's required to be able to properly create an exposure using "M" (manual) mode, an understanding of how aperture, ISO, and shutter speed interconnect, and some level of understanding of composition. It's as though some people think that a person who doesn't have an understanding of any of those things shouldn't be able to touch a DSLR camera.
I'm a huge advocate of the "seeking spirit," or the drive to be able to always learn new things and to have the motivation to seek out new information. Without a seeking spirit, all of the available knowledge in the world will be of no use to the person who refuses to apply it. When I first started learning photography, I had no idea what terms like f-stop or ISO meant, and to be talked down to for not understanding would have been a huge barrier. However, my dormant love of photography eventually manifested when I had the tools to be able to capture images, and having as much hands-on time as I wanted. However, having a DSLR, I found, didn't guarantee spectacular photos.
Disappointing. But only at first.
As I studied photography and learned the difference, portraiture-wise, between f/1.4 and f/5.6, my confidence grew with my skillset. I learned how ISO affects the exposure and the amount of noise (graininess) a photo has. As I began to create better photographs with this new information, I started to try new things like long exposure photography, low-light photography, and portrait photography (which initially terrified me, being an introvert by nature). I began to use program and automatic mode less and less once I learned what settings like "AV" (aperature priority) and "M" (manual) mode actually did. If I had someone constantly telling me "oh, you think you're a photographer just because you own a DSLR?", I wouldn't have been able to capture a lot of the photos that I'm extremely proud of. I never use program or automatic mode these days anymore. If you do, that's perfectly okay.
Photography, just like anything else, takes lots and lots of practice and studying, workshops, and networking. Someone who has no interest in the inner workings of their DSLR they own shouldn't be looked down upon, just as many people shouldn't be chastised by their mechanic for not understanding how their cars run. I know that internet memes can be humorous, but there's also a grain of truth to the mindset that DSLR cameras are only for a special few.
Not everyone is a photographer, but along that same vein, not everyone claims to be. If you're the type of person whose pet-peeve is program or auto mode, I offer you this: "let it go."