Docs that make you better

I’m excited to be getting a new camera and being a dork, I’ve been reading the manual online waiting for it to arrive. An interesting thing if you read photography manuals, the documentation does not simply document the camera and features but gives advice on how to be a better photographer.

The Fuji manual I was reading gave tips on holding the camera steady, brace your elbows against your body to help stabilize and take a blur free photo. Another tip on testing your gear, for important occasions take a test shot and practice to ensure that the camera is functioning normally.

Clearly not the most amazing advice, but it goes beyond simple usage and starts getting at the why you are taking photos and to help you achieve a quality shot.

Kodak is better at it, their manuals included a lot more detailed advice, for example from the Kodak Brownie manual (pdf)

I also remember being able to pick up pamphlets published by Kodak with their top photography tips. I couldn’t find an example of the old pamphlets but the tips are all online in Kodak’s tip center

Today we call this content marketing, but now publishing content is primarily used just for SEO to get more traffic. The content is written for bots laden with keywords and marginal usefulness. Kodak of old was honestly trying to help their customers be great photographers. They had new complex equipment and worked hard on educating people not just how to use the camera functions, but what makes great pictures.

For technology, sites and services today it is rare to see much documentation, manuals no longer exist for software, and most sites just include an FAQ on how to troubleshoot issues.

This may not apply for all sites, but I hope to see more marketing and content to try and make customers better and not just features hocking their wares.