Manual Mode Made Easy

Photography Tips

I know what you’re thinking…no way did the same photographer take the pictures below. I can assure you the same photographer did indeed take these pictures, because that photographer is ME! Manual Mode does NOT have to be hard. In fact, it really is quite simple. Before you dip out on me and close out of this blog, hang with me. I PROMISE I am about to explain this to you in such simple terms you will be a Manual Mode wiz in no time.

young girl with brown hair in white shirt smiling at camera with hand in her hair
young girl with brown hair in orange jacket and white pants spinning on the beach smiling at the sky

The Exposure Triangle

There are three camera settings that are crucial in capturing the images you love. They are: Aperture, ISO, and Shutter Speed. All three settings work together to control the exposure or “brightness” of your image. You’ll often hear these three settings working together to form the “exposure triangle”. When all three settings are in perfect balance with one another, you have a properly exposed image.

triangle explaining manual mode for photography


Let’s start with aperture. On your camera, aperture is referred to as the “f stop”. Adjusting your f stop controls how much or how little light you let into the lens. This correlates with how bright or dark your image will be. The lower the f stop number, the more light that’s let into the lens, the brighter your image. The higher the f stop number, the less light that enters in, the darker your image.

Pro Tip: Make sure your aperture is high enough to ensure your subject is in focus.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed refers to the amount of time the shutter stays open to let the light hit the sensor. The shutter speed also controls how focused your image is. The more time the shutter stays open, the brighter the image. The less time a shutter stays open, the darker the image.

Pro Tip: Make sure you have a high enough shutter speed to prevent blurry and out of focus images.


ISO refers to your camera’s sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more light that enters in to your camera’s sensor, the brighter the image. The lower the ISO the less light that enters in to your camera’s sensor, the darker the image.

Pro Tip: Avoid using a high ISO as it can cause noise or “grain” in your images.

Ready to REALLY Learn Manual Mode?

See, it’s not that hard is it! Want to master manual mode in an hour? I have the perfect resource for you! My Manual Mode Mini Course breaks down manual mode in a simple way. I use graphics, my own images, and give my go to settings to ensure you are able to operate your camera. I also have a BONUS troubleshooting lesson that teaches you how to troubleshoot in 3 simple steps. You can also snag my FREE Manual Mode Guide, join my FREE Facebook group, and read more lessons on the blog for more tips and tricks!


I am a light and airy Motherhood and Wedding photographer based in Southeast Alabama. I am also a photography educator for beginner photographers looking to learn their camera and launch their dream biz!

HEY THERE, I'M josie