You can capture incredible photos.
But there are a few common photography mistakes (often made by beginners).
And these mistakes might be holding you back.
Fortunately, they’re easy to fix.
And guess what?
Once you’ve fixed these mistakes, your photography will be better than ever.
So read on to discover the 10 common photography mistakes every beginner should avoid.
1. You’re not resetting your camera dials at the end of each shoot
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You’re doing an end-of-day photo shoot.
You crank your ISO up to 1600 (to deal with the low light).
Your shoot ends. You go to put away your camera.
…In all the excitement, you forget to drop your ISO back to 100.
This is such an easy mistake to make. Especially since it’s something you must remember at the end of each photo shoot –when you’re exhausted.
It’s something you can’t forget.
If you do, you’re jeopardizing your next photo shoot.
Because then you’re bound to shoot with your 1600 ISO.
And then you’ll get frustratingly grainy shots.
Which is exactly what you don’t want.
So here’s what you do:
At the end of each shoot, shift all settings back to a standard value. The particular number depends on your camera and your style of photography. But make sure you choose a median value – one that will serve you in a variety of situations.
Here’s what I do:
I dial my ISO down to 100.
I dial the aperture to f/5.6.
I dial the shutter speed to 1/500.
Doing this has saved me countless times.
It’ll save you, too.
2. You’re shooting JPEG photos (instead of RAW)
This mistake is a frustrating one.
Because there’s literally nothing you can do to fix it – after the fact.
Here’s the mistake:
You’re shooting JPEGs.
But you should be shooting in RAW.
Let me explain:
Cameras can shoot images using several file formats.
JPEG is a common file format and it’s the default format on a lot of cameras.
But here’s the issue with JPEGs:
They’re compressed files. That means that they lose information.
And a loss of information? That makes for lower-quality photos.
Not to mention another issue:
Each time you edit and resave a JPEG, you’re reducing the image quality.
Fortunately, you have another option:
You can shoot in RAW.
RAW is another file format – and it’s offered by most modern cameras.
It’s a lossless file format, which means that you can edit RAW files repeatedly without reducing the image quality.
And here’s a RAW bonus:
RAW files allow for you to do more substantial editing. Because the RAW format saves more information, you’re able to recover highlights, boost shadows, and alter colors – far more than what you can do with a JPEG file.
Switch to RAW.
You’ll be thankful that you did.
3. You’re shooting during the harsh midday hours
One of the things that separates great photos from mediocre photos…
…is the quality of the light.
Good light can take a photo to the next level.
Bad light can hold back an otherwise strong image.
Which brings me to mistake number three:
Shooting during the harsh midday hours.
Around midday, the sun is harsh. It causes contrasty shadows.
It’s just all-around bad for photography.
Instead of shooting during midday, try shooting during the early morning or evening hours.
That’s when the light is soft and golden.
(In fact, these times are known as the golden hours.)
Shooting during the golden hours will give your subjects a wonderful glow.
It’ll give them some soft illumination.
And it’ll give your photos a huge boost.
4. You’re using Auto mode all the time
When you first start shooting, it can be tempting to put your camera in Auto mode.
But here’s the problem:
When you shoot in Auto mode, the camera chooses all the settings for you.
And the camera does a good job 80 percent of the time.
But the other 20 percent?
That’s when your camera will mess up.
And you’ve got to be able to correct it.
Otherwise, your images will suffer.
So here’s what I’d suggest:
Start by learning the ins and outs of Aperture Priority mode.
(That’s the mode where you select the aperture and your camera will select the shutter speed.)
Then, when you’re in a non-stressful shooting situation, switch it on.
Try to use it more and more.
Eventually, you’ll be shooting in Aperture Priority all the time. You’ll love the control it gives you.
If you want even more control over your camera, you can transition to Manual mode. But this isn’t a requirement – you can do a great job with just Aperture Priority.
So that’s your call.
Just make sure you move away from Auto mode.
5. You’re forgetting about the direction of the light
You already know about the importance of good-quality lighting.
But did you know that the direction of the light matters, too?
Depending on the direction of the light, your photos can be soft, dramatic, or striking. And it’s important that you carefully choose the direction of the light.
(Because different types of light suite different subjects and styles.)
Here’s a quick guide to light:
If the light comes from in front of your subject (i.e., frontlight), you’ll get an evenly illuminated photo.
If the light comes from behind your subject (i.e., backlight), you’ll get a striking photo. The light will create a golden halo around your subject.
And if the light comes from beside your subject (i.e., sidelight), you’ll get a dramatic photo. The subject will be only partially illuminated – and partially shrouded in shadow.
Now, all these types of light have a time and place.
But frontlight is generally a very safe option.
(When in doubt, use frontlight.)
Here’s the important thing:
Each time you go out to shoot…
…look for the light.
Taken note of the light.
And position yourself so that you get the shot that you want.
6. You’re not composing deliberately
If light is the number one most important part of photography…
…then composition is number two.
Because in order to capture great shots, you’ve got to create great compositions.
That is, you’ve got to arrange the elements of your photo in a pleasing way.
It’s so easy to forget about this.
But you should deliberately compose every photo you take.
Now, composing deliberately doesn’t have to be an ordeal.
Not every photo has to be a masterpiece.
Just think about each photo you take, if only for a second.
Here’s a tip:
Try positioning your main subject in a way that emphasizes its beauty.
You could put it a third of the way into the frame…
(Following the rule of thirds.)
Over time, your composition skills will improve. You just have to practice!
7. You’re not considering the background
When you’re doing photography, it’s easy to think about your subject.
But you’ve got to think about the background, too!
The background is what frames the subject.
It’s what makes the subject stand out.
Here’s a bit tip for a stunning background:
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
The simpler the background, the better.
Try finding a uniform background. A bright sky is a great choice. So is a dark wall.
(A uniform background really does make for a gorgeous photo.)
It’s okay to settle for a less-than-uniform backdrop.
But make sure that it enhances the subject. Make sure it doesn’t detract from the overall image.
8. You’re not practicing very often
Photography is a skill.
And to improve a skill, you’ve got to practice.
Which means that you should get out and shoot as often as you can.
I know that it’s hard.
But if you shoot for fifteen minutes every day, your photography will grow by leaps and bounds.
And if you shoot for an hour a day?
You’ll be astonished by how quickly you improve.
It’s important to note:
Practicing photography isn’t just about taking photos.
You should also make sure to review your images. Consider what you like about them. Consider what you can improve.
And apply these findings the next time you go out.
If you’re really serious about photography, you should also try reviewing other people’s images.
There are tons of great photography sites out there (including this one!). Try perusing them for fifteen minutes every day.
You’ll soon develop an enhanced sense of composition and color. And this, in turn, will enhance your photography.
9. You’re shooting from standing height
When you’re doing photography, do you shoot from a standing height?
That is, do you generally take the standard shot?
Or do you move around and look for a unique perspective?
The thing is, it’s easy to just shoot from a standing height.
But if you do this, your images will never be unique.
And they won’t be very original.
You want to show the viewer something they’ve never seen before. That’s how you’ll create a stunning photo.
So what do you do?
Instead of shooting from standing height…
Change your angle.
Start by getting down low. Crouch on your knees. Get your pants dirty.
Then try moving to the side. Get a shot that nobody would ever think to take.
Next, find a nice vantage point – one that lets you capture your subject from above. Take a few shots from that angle.
Do you see what I mean?
By changing up your position, you’ll capture unexpected, original, and compelling photos.
And that’s exactly what you want.
10. You’re not processing your photos
Let’s talk about one last common photography mistake:
But not processing them.
Processing is a hugely important part of photography.
Because modern cameras account for processing.
In other words, if you’re shooting in RAW, it’s expected that you’ll process your photos.
So the camera gives you unprocessed photos – photos that need processing to look good.
The photos are under-sharpened.
The photos are undersaturated.
They’re just all-around in need of some editing.
Which is what you must do.
If you’re not a fan of post-processing, that’s okay. You can take a minimalist approach to your processing.
But you should process your photos, if only a little bit.
Because processing will give them that final touch…
…that will make the viewer say “Wow.”
Common photography mistakes: What do you do now?
Now you know 10 common photography mistakes.
And if you’re making any of these mistakes, you might feel discouraged.
Everyone is going to make mistakes. Especially when starting out.
The real question is…
What are you going to do about it?
If you follow the advice I’ve given you, you’re going to be in great shape.
You’ll improve at lightning speed.
And you’ll be so proud of the photos you take.
Have any other common photography mistakes that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments!
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