In today’s article, I’m going to discuss why EXIF information is not that important. Before I do that, let’s discuss what EXIF is.

What is it, and why do people think it is important?

EXIF is an abbreviation that stands for “Exchangeable Image File.” It stores all the metadata related to your image file — the resolution, date/time, exposure settings and other camera settings. It can also include more advanced information such as GPS location if your camera supports the feature.

People consider the information important for two main reasons:

  1. Sorting and archiving pictures. Info such as date/time and location are useful for sorting and archiving.
  2. Experienced photographers who want to study their work and really understand the impact of different camera settings on their work. It can also be useful when editing.

Why it does not really matter

Some people believe that as a photographer you must understand every small technical detail about your work.

Well, I don’t think so.

Starting in any new hobby or field of business in this world is extremely hard.

The first steps have so much pressure, caused by ideologies, visions, pressure from peers and even families. People think that they must start with a bang and become a millionaire overnight.
This often leads people to study a subject for months and even years, without enough practice and only theory.

If you give someone interested in photography a book on how to use EXIF data and what it is, they will probably be shocked and become discouraged. EXIF data is one of the nitty-gritty details of the world of photography.

Sure, you will sound more experienced in your field if you reply “I shot this in … ISO with 1/6s exposure …” But use of such words isn’t needed. It might sound cool or smart, but it’s unneeded and comes across as you showing off how much you know about something. People do not talk about their photo’s EXIF data in the caption unless someone specifically asks for it.

The same thing also applies to your daily conversation if someone asks about your photo. You are much better discussing how you framed the shot, organized the lighting, etc.

Overcomplicating theories to freshmen is not cool

The theory is cool and all, but without enough practice, it is practically useless. Studying how to run and practicing how to correctly run feels vastly different. Only studying does more harm than good. The correct approach when talking about how to do something would be making it simple. There is a reason there are many books using the “how to something for dummies.”

It serves as a little introduction for them. How to do anything, without worrying about the butterfly effect that may happen to them. Telling somebody that Iso speed ratings and what focal length does do to each other to someone just starting out would just spook them away.

People would say …

“But if you simplify it, then they won’t understand why it matters” or “simplifying does more harm than good.”

To that, I’d like to say that if you cannot explain something complex to someone new in that certain field, or an elementary schooler, that means you don’t understand it quite enough.

Overcomplicating something to make it seem more grandiose will not help many people. Maybe if your circle is full of “professionals” that love to use specific terms, then it’s fine. But for a beginner?

I’d say otherwise. Let them get used to it and become invested. Only then will EXIF data truly matter.