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Simple Camera Trick Nails Exposure Without Manual Mode

Photo of camera mode dials

Some say if you want to get perfectly exposed photos you need to use the camera’s manual mode but that’s not always the case. In the below tutorial, portrait photographer Justin Laurens shows you an easy camera trick to give your photos picture-perfect exposure while avoiding manual.

“Many photographers will tell you to master the manual mode and to use the manual setting whenever you capture any photo using your mirrorless or DSLR camera,” Laurens says. “I’m telling you definitively to not use the manual mode.”

Laurens says he’s not opposed to shooting in manual and, in fact, thinks every photographer should learn to shoot in manual. It’s just that there are often easier ways to get the same great results with your camera more quickly.

“While, yes, it is important to get your hands dirty and learn how the fundamentals of your camera wors,” he adds. “But when it comes to nailing your exposure and making your life so much easier on your portrait shoots, I would actually recommend to not use manual mode because I’m telling you there’s a much better way. And no, I’m not suggesting that you use the fully automatic function either.”

Instead, he recommends you use your camera’s Aperture Priority mode (aka A, AV, or AP mode). “The reason being is I believe it is the single best setting for beginners if they want to avoid the complexity and stress of using the manual mode setting as well as for intermediate and advanced photographer who wish to save a ton of time during photo shoots while eliminating the inconvenience of having to constantly keep adjusting the camera settings between each photo captured.”


Once you’re in Aperture Priority mode on your camera, select the aperture you’d like to either get a more detailed background in your portrait (pick an aperture with a higher number such as f/5.6 or above) or a blurry, cinematic “bokeh” type background (choose f/2.8 or lower, if possible).

“Then your camera will magically take care of the rest,” he notes. “Yep, it is that easy. Simply lock in the aperture to a value of your liking and then allow your camera to automatically select the shutter speed for you so as to ensure that your photo is properly exposed.”

So that’s it? Well, not exactly. Watch the full video below where Laurens explains his “small trick or hack” that will help you nail the exposure every time when shooting in Aperture Priority.


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