Last week was my son’s birthday, and I spoke to my mom about coming up for the day. She lives about an hour south of me in Sarasota, FL and she said that she’d come up for dinner. Well, recently she’s been getting more in to photography, and she mentioned that she’s had some questions about her Sony A7ii and that she wanted to better learn how to use the camera. So I told her she should come up earlier in the day for two reasons: First, My son is driving now, and she should try to get on the road while he’s still in school – much safer that way! 😉

But really, the main reason was so we could sit down and look through the camera, and talk about some of the settings she’s having issues with.

Everything went as planned. We spent about an hour just going through some of the important settings I thought she’d need on a regular basis. I taught her the camera, the same way I’d teach someone Photoshop. Just as I’d never teach someone just starting out in Photoshop about Curves or Calculations, I’d never tell my mom to worry about rear-curtain flash sync, or focus-peaking. Rather, I just spent that time showing her the basic things I thought she’d need to get out there and shoot.

Learn How to Use Your Camera

But here’s the catch, and this was my advice for her. She mentioned that it’d be hard to remember all of those settings, and that every time she goes out and shoots, she forgets them and where they’re at. My advice was this…

“Mom…You bought a professional piece of camera equipment. You purposely didn’t buy a simple point-and-shoot, and you want something with more creative control than your iPhone. But you can’t expect to master that complicated piece of equipment by going out and shooting once or twice a month.”

As we talked, I let her know there were two ways she could get better at moving around in the menus, and knowing her camera:

  1. Get out and shoot more. It’s a really simple time-tested formula that works every single time you try it: Practice = Improvement. It’s easy… the more you shoot, the more you’ll start to remember and understand those settings.
  2. However… shooting more really isn’t an option for her because she’s busy. So, I offered another tip that I share with a lot of workshops I teach. Sit down with your camera every day for 2-3 weeks (for 10 minutes), and go through the menus and settings that you use a lot. I promise you, that at the end of those two weeks, you’ll feel so comfortable with your camera that you won’t think twice about changing settings the next time you go shoot.

Another Way to Learn the Camera

And don’t just go through the menus haphazardly. But find the settings that you use a lot. For example, if the “Raw / JPEG” setting on her Sony A7ii is under the Camera Settings (camera icon) > #1 > Quality, then try to memorize it and guess before you ever get to the menu. That way, when you’re shooting and things are moving quickly, and you want to quickly change something in that menu, you’ll instantly know right where to go.

Folks, this happens to all of us. I switched to Sony about a year ago from shooting Nikon. I’d shot Nikon for so many years that I knew it like the back of my hand. But the Sony was new to me. For the first few months, whenever I’d go shoot somewhere, I’d grab my camera ahead of time and go through the menus to make sure I knew how to change what I needed to change. If I was flying somewhere, I’d grab my camera from the overhead bin, and sit there fiddling around with it for a while.

But one thing is for sure. You can’t expect to get better at it if you’re only taking the camera out every few weeks when you have time to shoot.

So… to my mom, and all of you photography lovers out there who don’t do this for a living (and subsequently don’t get to shoot several times a week), my advice to you is simple. Spend a few minutes every day, and go through some of the common settings on your camera and memorize where they are. You’ll probably even come across settings that you don’t know what they do, and that’s a great chance to “google it” and maybe learn a few more things about the camera, so you’ll feel more comfortable next time you go shooting.

Thanks for stopping by. And thanks mom, for giving me new blog content 🙂 Have a good one!



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