**Disclaimer:: I know I can always improve and be a better photographer, I just wanted to write this and share my insight...its not set in stone its just my 2 cents.....enjoy :) **
Even though photography seems like its been reduced to how amazing your camera is, because who hasn't heard " look at the size of that camera! I bet it makes great photos!" it still doesn't define you as a photographer.
Most days I am stuck with my iphone and some of my most treasured images are on that phone camera thing. Not once have I looked at an image on my phone that I love and thought "Gee, I wish I had my 5d". Or "I bet I can't get a single good image with this thing, so why bother?". A moment is a moment! ..I have noticed being a little more lazy with my kid's photos cause the iphone is so convenient and by the time I whip out my gear they have moved on to bigger and better things! Take comfort in the fact that I would never show up to a shoot with my iphone!
That being said, I love my camera and I love to tell my camera what to do. All of it. ISO, Shutter, aperture, focus etc. Instead of the other way around. To me thats what makes a photographer. Its not a label, its the difference between luck and intention. Pros and beginners. If you haven't ventured into Manual mode, I say go for it! With the size of memory cards these days you literally have nothing to lose and nobody but you will see it unless you let them. Its the scariest thing you could ever do as a photographer, but it will make you better and as long as you learn from your mistakes and do it differently next time ( which is life in general). You will be less scared every time and the moment you realized you conquered "M" mode, the sky really is the limit.
Below is an illustration of me telling my camera what I want, just by being intentional with my settings. They are both good photos, in my opinion and both direct your eyes to different places. I never moved or used photoshop. Next time you take a photo ask yourself " What do I want in focus/ out of focus?" "Do I want to see the background and give this photo context? Or do I want it to fade away like butter?" Please don't spray and pray unless you are shooting the world cup finals. When you master "M" mode you will feel so awesome, you never have to rely on luck, because awesome needs no help. Have fun!
PS. this bunch of flowers were $10 at the farmers market in Charlotte. Look at the awesome cabbage thing!!