Things We Love: Nikon AR-11 Soft Shutter Release


I feel for those of you who run around with cameras without a threaded shutter release. Why? Because you will never experience the pleasure of depressing a shutter release topped with the Nikon AR-11 Soft Shutter Release. Come to think of it, you won’t get to enjoy the Nikon AR-3 Threaded Cable Release that I waxed poetically about last year, either. But, I digress…

The soft shutter release is supposed to reduce the amount of camera shake you, the photographer, impart to the camera when you release the shutter. Does it work? Opinions differ, and I have not seen scientific evidence to support the claim, but I prefer the feel of having a soft shutter release atop my Fujifilm and older Nikon film cameras. It certainly makes it easier for my finger to find the release and—bonus—I love the tactile feel of the AR-11’s smooth black convex top.

Not enamored with the chrome/black look of the Nikon AR-11? Does brand loyalty keep you from buying anything that has the word “Nikon” on it? Does your trigger finger prefer concave to convex? There are lots of brands, colors, construction materials, and different designs of soft shutter releases out there. Brass? Wood? Silver? Black? Red? Hard? Squishy? Lady bug? Check them out.

My teaching colleague and friend, Clint Saunders, checks the ego of college photo students by telling them, “Get over yourself. You push a button for a living.” For me, it is imperative that the all-important button feels good; and the AR-11 feels great. I just hope I am not upsetting the Fujifilm gods by putting a Nikon accessory on my X-series cameras!

The “Things We Love” series articles are written by B&H Photo Video Pro Audio staff to talk about products and items that we love. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the writers and do not represent product endorsements from B&H Photo Video Pro Audio.


"Get over yourself.  You create art by pushing a button." ?

I'm reminded about an old lawyer joke about a lawyer who solved a client's problem by writing a letter.  The client complained that a $500 fee was way too high for just writing a letter. So the lawyer sent him a bill that said: ' Write a letter - $1.  Knowing what to put in the letter - $499.'

We don't create art by pushing a button.  we create art by knowing WHEN and WHERE to push the the button.

Well said, John! Excellent!

I will definitely forward this to my teaching colleague.

Thanks for stopping by!

Hey John,

I took my first photography class over 30 years ago, I've been a professional photographer and exhibiting fine art photography for over 20 years, I have an MFA in photography, and I have been teaching photography and art for over 13 years. As such, I would agree with what you are saying 100% And, I would be angry and defensive if someone said this to me as stand alone quote. This quote comes from a much longer lecture and is meant to get students to drop their egos if they have one. Also, this is miss quoted a bit (sorry Todd haha) The actual quote is "If you're in this stage (see below) you need to get over yourself. The reality is that you push a button for a living." I know, as does every professional photographer out there, that there is MUCH more to photography than pushing a button. This is just meant as a wake up call for photographers who's egos are getting the best of them. And, I too have been guilty of said ego in the past.

In my career I have met a LOT of photographers and students at all levels of photography, and I have noticed something I call the "stages of photography."

Stages of a Professional Photographer

Stage I:

Brand new. Filled with passion. Dying to learn everything. Like a sponge. Humble, just want to learn.

Stage II:

Learned some stuff. Creating some solid images. Wanting more, more, more.

Stage III:

Learned more stuff. Creating good images consistently. Feel like you finally know what you’re doing. Feeling confident, want to start making money and doing it for a living.

Stage IV:

Don’t know what to do next. How do I make money at this? What’s the next step? Start to doubt yourself. Start to feel insecure about your work. Wonder if your work is good enough. Start criticizing your work.

Start to compare your work to other photographers. Start criticizing other photographers work as you compare it to your own. Because of insecurity, you start to think your work is better than all of the professional photographers out there. So, why aren’t you getting paid? How can they have customers when you don’t? This isn’t fair, my work is better. How did that person win this photo contest that I entered when my shot was better? Etc. etc. Because of insecurity, our egos grow and we become cocky.

Stage V:

Overcome your fear and insecurity, take the risk, start your business and hope to get customers. Start getting customers and feeling good about your work. Self-confidence rises.

As your self-confidence rises, you stop feeling the need to insult and criticize other photographers. You stop comparing your work to other professionals. Why? Because you are finally confident in your own work and you no longer need to compare.

As your business grows, you improve, your work gets better, your confidence grows and you stop insulting other photographers all together and start recognizing the strengths in their work.

Then you start learning from other photographers and even teaching other photographers because you are no longer threatened by them because you are no longer insecure with your own work and abilities. You look back on your work and realize that it wasn’t near as good as you thought it was. Not that it was bad, but you have simply continued to grow and learn.

You see a ton of new photographers entering the scene who’s work is very amateur, but instead of wanting to tear it down, you feel a desire to help them and teach them because you remember when your work was at that level, and you are no longer threatened by other photographers because you are confident in your own work.

Stage V option II:

You don’t overcome your insecurities, you convince yourself that your work is simply better than all of these “professionals” out there and you just don’t get it. So, you continue to criticize other photographer’s works as a means to feel better about your own photography. You get insulted when other photographers offer you advise or constructive criticism and you don’t learn and grow.

Ultimately, you never grow as a photographer and never move forward. Eventually you give up on being a professional photographer and do it for fun, if you do it at all, and continue to criticize other photographers.

BTW, there is nothing wrong with just doing photography as a hobby, and if you are doing it as a hobby, it does NOT mean that you didn’t make it as a professional. Photography is the number one hobby in the world and it’s not because people didn’t make it as professionals, it’s because photography is AMAZING and fun, and not everyone wants to do it as a professional.

Stage V option III:

You get the confidence to start your business, but you start WAY too big. You feel the key to success is having a HUGE, AMAZING, totally awesome studio, and you over extend. You don’t have any customers yet, but you have TON of overhead, and you end up out of business before you ever had a chance to build a customer base.

You’ve got to start where you’re at. Put your ego aside and start small and build. You don’t need bragging rights of having the coolest studio in the nation, you need customers and you need to continue to grow as a photographer.

As you move forward in your career remember these things.

1. be confident, but not cocky. Believe in your skills, but don't forget the reality that you push a button for a living, so be humble.

2. never stop being a student. After 20 years in this career field, I still learn every day. Keep growing and keep striving to be better.

3. don't be afraid to succeed. You have the skills and the knowledge, so don't doubt your ability to get the job done and to do it well.

4. don't be afraid of mistakes or failure. Mistakes and failures are our best tools for learning.

5. have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love what you do and you will spend the rest of your life loving what you do. Profound, I know. haha