6 Must-Have Photographer Skills 

To be a good photographer requires you to be at one with your camera. There is a seamless connection between awareness and intuition that effortlessly allows you to set your camera to record the picture. This post focuses on the camera skills you must have to be able to instantly work with your camera. I’m sure that you come across a situation where you’re fiddling with camera controls and consequently missing picture taking opportunities.

The must-have skills I have chosen are very basic to many picture-taking situations, for example, adjusting the exposure compensation, changing the size and position of focusing point, changing the autofocus mode and selecting different types of autofocus control.

So let’s go through them one by one.


All pictures in this post were taken a few weeks ago my lecture tour to East Anglia. Find out more about how your club can benefit from a lecture tour here

1 Change the Exposure Compensation

Getting the exposure right in the camera is critical to the possibilities that are available in the postprocessing stage of making a picture. An overexposed or underexposed file does not always have the potential to give you the best results.

Hopefully, you have chosen a camera that allows you to change the exposure compensation in one seamless movement? The exposure meter in your camera is only a guide and it should be used in conjunction with the viewfinder histogram. Again this presupposes that you are using a CSC type camera and not a DSLR.

Just as a hint, understand the term shoot or Expose to the right. This means giving extra exposure when required but without causing highlight pixels to be 100% brightness.

Have you practised this must-have skill?

2 Change the Focusing Mode 

Your camera will offer you three basic types of focusing modes. For example, the Fuji offers single point, zone focusing and wide tracking. Within each one of these modes, there are various settings can be applied to your specific picture-taking situation. It may be that you are so at a motor racing event and you need to change the focusing mode from in Zone to Tracking.

A proficient photographer should be to carry out this operation without taking the camera away from the eye. On my camera, I have, all the focusing options on customisable buttons on the back of the camera. This setup allows me to make any changes I want to without taking the camera away from my eye.

Therfield – ploughed field
3 Change the size of the Focus Area 

The size of the focus area will be a compromise between speed and accuracy. You need to weigh up whether or not pinpoint focus accuracy is vital to your picture or not. Also, whether the selected aperture will give you enough depth of field to have the subject acceptably sharp enough.

For a large subject, a large focusing area will be preferable for speed and ease of focus.



Poster – Cambridge city centre

4 Change the position of the Focusing Point 

All camera manufacturers build in differences of approach to the hand ability of their hardware. For example, on the Fuji XT-1, the focusing point is moved around by the four arrows on the back of the camera. There was a major improvement on the XT-2 camera body when a joystick was built into move and centre the point of focus.

All these operations need to be done quickly if you’re in a picture taking situation that is rapidly changing. The more operations you need to set the camera as required just slows that process down.

5 Change the AF Custom Settings

The AF custom settings are applicable to the tracking capabilities of the camera body. Fuji like most other camera manufacturers has built in a range of preset options depending on the type of movement expressed by the subject. If you are taking pictures of random movement for example team games you may need to adjust the preset to help gain accurate focus.

Again, you do not want to be fiddling around with your camera at the height of the action or when a goal is scored.

6 Change the ISO Rating 

I tend to use a fixed ISO rating for most situations and rarely choose auto. One of the joys of using the Fuji camera system is the easy accessibility to all the major controls that are located on the exterior of the body. This helps speed up the picture taking process because you do not have to do dive into menu after menu to find what you’re looking for.

Generally, the ISO will need to be operated to produce a faster shutter speed to reduce the risk of camera shake in a lowlight situation.

Have you got a good working knowledge of this must-have skill?



Therfield Barns

The Learning Zone for embedding must-have skills

It is a good idea to differentiate the amount of time spent learning and doing photography. You cannot learn whilst you’re in a pressure situation to get the pictures. Ideally, we need to place yourself in a situation where you are not pressurised on getting it right absolutely every time.

The more time and effort you put into learning and practising will pay rich dividends when you are in a real situation. The whole point of practice is to make your camera craft becomes second nature. You may wonder how some photographers get it right every single time, it is not through luck but through practice, practice and more practice with consistent feedback.

Read more about The Learning Zone here

The ABC of CameraWork Manual 

For more practical tips and tricks pick up your copy of The ABC of CameraWork Manual.