I’m often amazed by how many photographers don’t really know all that much about the technical aspects of operating their gear. While I’m not expecting everyone to go out and study how the mechanics of a lens works, I think it is utterly paramount when you are on a shoot that the actual act of operating your equipment to achieve a professional-quality image should be trivially easy so that you can focus on the more important aspects.
Knowing How to Use Your Gear Solves Problems
Photography is often largely about problem solving. Our cameras are tools of tremendous versatility but are all dogged by brutal limitations. The balance of these two extremes is how photographers capture great images.
If you don’t instinctively know every aspect of your gear, your ability to overcome those limitations can either be very slow or impossible. You never know what feature may be your savior, so make sure that you know as much about how to operate your camera as possible so that you are fully armed to do battle with complex situations.
Knowing How to Use Your Gear Eliminates Distraction
Humans only have a finite amount of focus that we can allocate to active tasks. As you become more proficient at repeating a task, the amount of focus required to do it diminishes. For a budding photographer, balancing exposure, achieving focus, or avoiding blur is something that will gorge on their available reserves of focus.
When investing the majority of your attention on operating the equipment, you inevitably must sacrifice the attention you are placing on creative imagination, interaction with a subject, and awareness of the scene. Invest the time to transform your knowledge of using your camera from being something you need to focus heavily on to something trivial that you barely need to think about during a shoot.
Knowing How to Use Your Gear Ensures Quality
If you aren’t intimately acquainted with every aspect of your gear, how can you expect to coax the highest quality out of it? Deepening the knowledge of your gear to the point it becomes instinct allows you to overcome situations that might adversely affect the quality of your service with no more than a fleeting thought as you quickly adapt to whatever situation arises.
This post may seem like I am somewhat stating the obvious but I can’t believe how often I encounter photographers who are actually selling their services while struggling with the basics of photography. These photographers often have an amazing eye and can create great images when the situation is right, but struggle to make a viable image if a single setting is wrong or they need to step outside their comfort zone.
Invest the time in learning how to use your camera so that the technical aspect of operating your equipment is so trivial that you don’t even really need to actively think about it during a shoot.