Why I’m Not Ashamed to Admit I Shoot in Auto Mode and Why You Shouldn’t Be Either!

Do you love taking photos? Composing the perfect shot, editing them to make them look beautiful? Me too!

Do you shoot in auto mode but are embarrassed to admit it because people won’t take your photos seriously?

Or maybe you have heard ‘proper’ photographers say what is the point of having a DSLR if you are just keeping it in auto mode?

I do not care what they think! I’m Not Ashamed to Admit I Shoot in Auto Mode!

I’ve always loved taking photos and for my 21st birthday my lovely (now) hubby purchased me my first DSLR camera, an entry level Nikon.

I won’t lie, my photos were not automatically better. I still had a lot to learn.

Over the years and with a ton of practice and a camera upgrade to a (still entry level) Nikon D5500 my photography has improved.

However, I had never ever learnt how to manually control my camera.

Until now.

Straight out of the Camera

Edited in Lightroom

I just recently took a course for beginners.

The course itself was brilliant. I now have a basic understanding of the exposure triangle, ISO, aperture and shutter speed, and how they interact with each other.

I was so excited I was finally going to be able to control my camera like a pro!

Off I went into the garden, camera in hand switched to full manual mode!

Straight out of the Camera

Edited in Lightroom

El mistako! OMG, it is so ridiculously hard!

The lighting was changing every few seconds. This literally affects everything!

It was making me frustrated. I’d never be able to do this fast enough to take beautiful photos on my travels.

But with a bit of reflection, I realised why I didn’t actually want to manually control my camera.


Here are my 6 reasons why shooting in auto mode is perfectly acceptable!


1. I’m not a photographer

Photography is just a hobby for me. It doesn’t matter to me how I got the photo, it just matters that I got it and its beautiful.


2. I don’t travel to take photos, I take photos to capture memories of my travels

I like to take many photos on my travels and go through them later picking out and editing the best. I don’t want to spend hours to get one measly shot!

Plus, hubby would not really enjoy our travels if it took me 5 minutes to get my settings right every time I saw a photo op. I much prefer to shoot on the fly.


Straight out of the Camera

Edited in Lightroom

3. By manually controlling your DSLR you are basically just doing what the camera would have done anyway

I was basically just fiddling with the settings to get the exposure meter correct!

I personally don’t have the need to use any specialist settings.

Unless you want to take one of those motion blurred photo of a waterfall you don’t need to know how to manually control the settings!


4. Even entry level DSLRs are pretty clever

If you want to take landscape shots set it to landscape mode.  If you want to take portraits set it to portrait mode.

You get where this is going!

If you are taking normal shots with people in set it to auto. If auto decides to flash take it again without flash and later on you can chose the best shot.

These cameras are damn clever and 99% of the time my photos come out perfectly fine on auto.


Straight out of the Camera

Edited in Lightroom

5. Even the best photos need editing

It doesn’t matter how long it took you to capture that perfect shot it will still need some tweaking I’m sure.

So, go ahead capture it in auto mode, you can easily use Lightroom to edit it later if need be.

All the photos I took on manual (throughout this post) which were supposedly correctly exposed were not bright enough for my liking. As you can see I brightened them all in Lightroom.


6. Even the pros use auto mode

Can you imagine the paparazzi standing there fiddling about with their settings? I know it’s not really the same but you get where I’m coming from.

Seriously though there is more than one auto mode on a camera.

Take aperture or shutter priority for example. You set the aperture or shutter speed and the camera decides the rest.

You can bet your bottom dollar many ‘pros’ use these settings which are partly auto.


Straight out of the Camera

Edited in Lightroom

At the end of the day if you are getting what you want from your camera then that’s all that really matters!

I will continue strutting my stuff, DSLR camera around neck, pretending to be a pro but actually taking hundreds of photos on auto mode.

I actually like the photos my camera produces and there’s no way on this earth I could get the same results myself!

Take this beauty for example..

What do you think about using your camera in Auto mode?

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Pinterest Photo by Nicolas Ladino Silva on Unsplash

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  • Rebecca says:

    I shoot in auto most of the time, I shoot all kinds of different photos, wild life, sports, weddings portraits and I make my money doing this. I have never had anyone ask me what mode I used for the photos. If your happy and your client is happy that’s all that matters. I have been a photographer for over 20 years.

  • Hahah, indeed.

    I have a high-end compact camera; not as ‘flash’ as a DSLR but still with a whole myriad of manual settings. I tend to use it on ‘manual’ all the time, simply because I’m a control freak and I like to experiment with exactly what my camera can do. I know I’ll never be a ‘great’ photographer, but I like to do the best I can.
    The other reason tho is indoor shots -> on auto mode my camera’s ‘automatic preference’ is to increase light by reducing shutter speed. I’m not the most ‘steady’ of individuals (I can’t stand on one leg for more than a few seconds, for instance, before I come crashing down in a heap of embarrassment), so unless I want a blurry shot of … “something orange”, I’ll always have to switch to manual mode anyway to take decent indoor shots.
    (Outdoors, it doesn’t make a lot of difference….)

    However, as you point out, it’s really hard to do this effectively if you’re taking quick shots (paparazzi!) or if what you’re taking a picture of is time-dependent – it’s awkward to be fiddling with settings at the crucial moment, even if I’m now adept at changing the settings with one hand now.

    I’ve never dabbled with the semi-auto modes; I know I ought to but … weirdly making that step feels more complicated in my head than it probably really is!

    I have also recently discovered Lightroom. Oh. Wow. It’s really made a difference to my pictures! I always used to hate image editing (and indeed rarely did anything other than basic cropping, rotating, etc), but this makes it much easier. In the back of my mind I still think it’s ‘cheating’ somehow, but … 🙂

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