5 Photography Pitfalls to Avoid That No One Tells You About

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Taking photos is easy, but being a photographer is an entirely different proposition. Whether photography is a hobby or a full time profession, there comes a time in every photographer’s journey where you encounter a few pitfalls that no one tells you about when you are starting out. Here are five photography pitfalls to look out for, and overcome on your journey.

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Photography Pitfall #1 – Becoming a Machine

Becoming a professional photographer is surely one of the highlights of any photographer’s journey. Getting paid to do what you love is what we all dream about. But whatever genre of photography you specialize in, there will inevitably come a time when you will view it as a job. You understand what photos your editor likes and will use, you understand what type of photos sell well, and you begin to become like a machine in producing these types of photos.

One of the great things about photography is that it allows you to be creative, so when you do become a machine your photos will start to all look very similar. It’s no surprise that you may, like many photographers, start to lose your passion for something that you used to love. To overcome this, set yourself some personal projects, doing something you enjoy with no pressure about making images that will sell. This is all about you exploring and experimenting with your photography, to reignite your passion. Or you could even try a completely different genre of photography, because you never know, you may find a new passion.

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Photography Pitfall #2 – Losing Your Spark

Remember when you first started photography? What an exciting time it was, suddenly seeing the world differently, and being able to capture it beautifully. You would get up early in the morning; head out for hours in search of that one photo that you could be proud of, but sometimes, you may lose that spark. Whether it’s everyday life getting in the way, or just the fact that your interests have moved on, there comes a time for most photographers that they lose the spark they had when they started photography.

Nevertheless, you can get the spark back. After all, there was something about photography that pulled you in, and you need to go back to discover what that was. Often as a photographer, and as you become more advanced, you forget what it was that you loved at the beginning, so one of the ways to get your spark back is going back to doing what you enjoyed in the first place. If your passion was landscape photography, but you find that you are photographing weddings, go back to landscapes for a while. Not only will it get your spark back but it will also re-energize you for what you are doing now.

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Photography Pitfall #3 – Laziness

Like any job, sometimes you have days where you just don’t have the energy to get out there, and really do everything you can to capture the photo that will do a scene justice.  It’s okay to have days like, that and sometimes you do need to just take the day off. But there’s a difference between having an off day, and becoming lazy. Great photographs require great effort, and if you are lazy, then it is usually reflected in your work.

For example, pulling up to a viewpoint in the car, taking the photo and leaving, when you know that there’s actually a better viewpoint which requires effort to get to, or settling for your first photo at a location just because you are tired and don’t want to wait around, when usually you would wait all day to capture the perfect photo. These are signs that you are getting lazy about your work. So ask yourself, what’s changed?

It could be that you just need a break from photography, and the pressure that comes with it. This doesn’t have to be a long time, sometimes just a few days is enough to re-energize, and re-focus you to go again.

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Photography Pitfall #4 – Money Issues

Whether photography is your profession at the moment, or you want it to become so, there will be a time when money becomes an issue. This is a hugely competitive industry, with falling prices and fees for photographers. If you are a freelance photographer, not only do have to fund the photographic equipment you need, but also the marketing and promotion of your business. Often this can lead to a situation where you need money to market and promote your work so that you can get business, to in turn, then market and promote your work more. Without getting one, the other becomes harder.

The most important thing is to ensure that you are fully aware of the business side of things. Like any business, you need to make sure you always have a long term strategy, and to also make the most of every dollar you spend on your business. You should have a clear vision of how to grow your business, and how to cope at times when things do get quieter.

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Photography Pitfall #5 – Camera Attachment

Any photographer will tell you that they are usually inseparable from their camera. It almost becomes an extension of your body, which in some ways is great, as you are always ready to capture the moments that present themselves. There’s nothing worse than missing a great picture because you don’t have your camera with you. But this also means that you often end up not fully enjoying, or experiencing something or somewhere, because your mind is always working and looking for photo opportunities.

As a travel photographer, I discovered a long time ago that family holidays and photography don’t really work together. Separating the two means I can enjoy my holiday, while being able to fully focus on work when I’m away by myself. So if you find yourself attached to your camera, set aside some days to simply leave it at home, and accept that you may miss out on a picture, but in the long run it will keep you fresh and able to focus when you do have your camera with you.

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There’s no doubt that photography is an exciting hobby or profession to get into, but after a while, like anything else that you may follow, you need to find ways to motivate and inspire yourself. Being able to spot some of the negative traits is a good way to continue to enjoy what you do, while also continuing to produce great work.

Can you think of any other photography pitfalls that you have come across? Please share your experiences below.

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Kav Dadfar is a professional travel and landscape photographer based in London. He spent his formative years working as an art director in the world of advertising but loved nothing more than photography and traveling. His images are represented by stock agencies such as 4Corners Images, Robert Harding World Imagery, Getty, Axiom Photographic, and Alamy and they have been used by clients such as CondΓ© Nast, National Geographic, Wanderlust travel magazine, Lonely Planet, American Express, and many others.

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  • Although I am not a professional photographer, I have to agree with these points. In my personal case there is a correlation between the first three points.

    Because I become a photography machine I loose my spark. Since I loose my spark, I start to neglect my hobby and become lazy. It takes a huge effort to get back to photography when I lost my spark. Starting a new type of photography helps for me.

    Another pitfall is becoming a perfectionist and getting annoyed with myself if a shot doesn’t succeed as I want. That way I loose my interest in photography for a few days πŸ˜‰ So not being too hard on yourself as a photographer is important too!

    Great article, thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    Cheers,
    Tieme

  • I enjoy photography as a hobby although I started part-time photography over 20 years ago for making some extra cash. Over the years, it appears to me that photo assessment is highly subjective and different photo-websites could give you vastly different feedback for a particular photo, unless it is an absolute winner. Sometimes what appears (to me) to be a fairly mundane photo could get a very good feedback. Thus I simply shoot what I find interesting and let the others do the assessment. Being too subjective can be a pitfall.

  • Gro Wikheim Korsmoe

    Thank you!! I really enjoyed reading your article! What touched me the most was the section on leaving your camera to enjoy life πŸ˜‰ This is so true! The most magnificant experience is first of all to be kept in my heart – and shared with good friends or family. As you said – it’s easy to miss out of the event because you’re so focused on photographing…

  • Marsha Ingrao

    Yep, I’m there with all of those pitfalls. Sometimes the lazy one depends on who you are with. If they don’t want to stop, you don’t have a choice. Sometimes I see the best pictures when I’m out on a ride. πŸ™‚

  • Tammy

    I think I fall into the ‘Losing the Spark’ and ‘Lazy’ category but I can identify will all of them. I don’t take the time to get the other types of shot and instead of walking around and looking around, I just take the shot from my car and move on. So I have learned to get out of the car, walk around, enjoy the scenery and view rather than just click, click, click with the camera. Slow down and enjoy the day and if the opportunity comes then take the photo.

  • josh

    I’ve found that being part of a group where others can bring fresh experience as well as share your own helps. Also contests and challenges force you to get out and compete or allow you to try something’s you might not have tried yet. At the same time this keeps you learning and forcing you to be creative.

  • OJB

    Yes, especially that last one. I must admit that sometimes when I want to get “a bit off the beaten track” to get a certain shot the people I am with get a little bit impatient. They’ve got to understand… this is art!

  • Donna J

    I’m a bit embarrass to say but lately I’ve fallen into senereo #1,2, and 3. I never imagined I’d ever leave my camera at home, or worse… take shots from the car window IF I even stopped the car at all! I’m happy though to see I’m not alone! Thanks for the good article, it gave me the kick in the butt I think I need!

  • Kav Dadfar

    No worries glad you enjoyed it!

  • Kav Dadfar

    Absolutely, first and foremost you have to love what you do and find it interesting. Thanks for sharing. Kav

  • Kav Dadfar

    No problem. Glad you enjoyed reading it. Kav

  • Kav Dadfar

    It can be frustrating when you are with someone who doesn’t want to hang around for a photo, but separating the times when you are photographing with time with family and friends does make it easier. I find that bribes to the other person usually work. Kav

  • Kav Dadfar

    100% right! Getting out of the car should be a must. Nothing better than walking around or just sitting and absorbing the scene. Thanks for commenting. Kav

  • Kav Dadfar

    Great tip Josh! Surrounding yourself with other people with similar interests can really help to inspire you. Kav

  • Kav Dadfar

    Ha ha yes. Usually a combination of bribery and guilt helps to buy enough time to capture a few good photo.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Nothing to be embarrassed about. It happens to a lot of people and with a bit of inspiration and work you can overcome it. Kav

  • Lynda Gettis Roeller

    Wow I am all 5 of those right now. Thanks for the great article.

  • Mark Lloyd

    A great insight into my hobby…… well documented and all taken on board.

  • Kav Dadfar

    Thanks Mark! Glad you found it useful.

  • Kav Dadfar

    No worries Lynda. Good luck getting out of the “5”.

  • I agree with point 4, but not the money so much as not knowing how to set up a really nice website and marketing the images & also trying to sell stock images online and getting lots of negative responses from computer generated replies when trying to upload huge files, and not to mention the limited bandwidth we have – so all those things build up … and also very critical on my own work … so, also kind of lost that spark as a result. I have since gone for more advanced photography training to improve myself – I have done most of the courses offered by the college and hopefully now can look at getting a big Data line to try and see if I can upload images again.

  • Rob Bixby

    I agree with them all, but, Number 5 is one I struggle with regularly.

  • Kav Dadfar

    I think every photographer does Rob, so you are not alone.

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