6 Signs That You May be a Lazy Photographer


Photographers who are consistently producing stunning photographs don’t do so because they are lucky, observant, or even more skilled than the average photographer – they do so because they are not being lazy. Are you a lazy photographer?


6 signs you may be a lazy photographer

#1 – You’re lazy about composing your shots

You already know the basic rules of successful composition and you even know the rules for breaking those rules, but if you fail to put these rules into practice with every shot you take, then you’re being a lazy photographer.

Composition is potentially the most important tool you have within your arsenal for creating a powerful image. So it’s vital that when you compose your shots you aren’t being lazy about it, and instead compose with purpose.

To give you an idea of how I go about composing a scene I put together a short video that takes you through some iterations of a recent waterfall shoot. I hope this helps you see how composition is more than just knowing the rules, but it’s about putting them into action in the field, and thinking about the scene as a whole, over the course of a shoot.

#2 – You’ve uttered the words “I’ll fix that in post” as you begin to get frustrated about a scene or subject

Post production is always going to be there for you to use, but when you’re telling yourself that you’ll fix something in post when it could be fixed with another shot in less than ten minutes, then you’re being lazy. Whenever you have the time and ability to change, tweak, or otherwise improve a shot with a little effort you should take it. Otherwise you’ll spend more time fixing mistakes than making your images more powerful.

#3 – You’re full of excuses

Everything from sunrise being too early, to the weather being too cold, to your tripod being too heavy sets you back from someone who’s willing to go the extra mile to make the shot. Stop making excuses and get out and make photos instead.

#4 – You don’t do a proper assessment of the scene you’re photographing

It’s important to spend time to assess how the light is moving through your scene, and what kinds of perspectives and angles will suite your subject best. Rarely is the first idea that pops into your head going to be the best way to photograph a scene, so arrive early, scout out the various subjects and angles, then capture.


#5 – You don’t venture more than a few steps from the parking lot

Simply put – get off the beaten path and discover something that someone else hasn’t.

#6 – You’ve had the thought, “If only I had this camera, or that lens I’d take better photos”

This kind of thinking will put you in debt faster than a gambling addition. Yes upgrading your gear will improve the quality of your images, but they won’t help you take better photographs, only you can do that.


What else?

We’ve all been lazy from time to time and there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is important to know when we’ve been lazy in order to help prevent it from happening in the future. What other lazy photographer traits can you come up with? Comment below!

Please share any experiences where you weren’t lazy and you did get the shot too, give us a little inspiration and reason to get out of our chairs and go shoot.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

John Davenport is the creator of PhoGro - Gro' Your Photography a community that aims to help you grow your photography through engagement with other photographers. John also offers a free email course 6 Weeks to Better Photos that covers the most important elements for getting started with photography.

  • Geoff

    I’m with you John that post production should be limited to tweaking and enhancing photos. The laziness is when the photographer doesn’t look to my mind: when s/he’s not aware, not being observant. And if you’ve been a member of a photo club or group then you’re bound to have seen many examples of wonderful gear being used badly. The result; perfect quality photos of boring images.
    And I’m also with losschwabos… the ‘sunset’ pic is over-edited for my taste; it just looks unnatural. Less is more…

  • Syl

    People who tell you that
    “Better gear won’t make you a better photographer” or “Post Production is lazy” are usually the ones with the most expensive gear and software 🙂

  • Judith Reaves

    I have definitely had the ‘if I only had this lens’ excuse. Trying to capture indoor volleyball with a 250mm is not getting me any closeups from the bleachers

  • Judith Reaves

    using back button focus has helped the blur tremendously, just can’t get any good closeups. Sometimes I think I have delusions of grandeur haha

  • Steve

    Thanks for the article. I was afraid I fell into the category of “lazy photographer” and after reading this realized I’m not as lazy as I thought! My favorite thing to do is to go out and be adventurous. That unbeaten path is the best place to be.

  • Richard Keeling

    Good points, with attention to composition being the most important. Fixing in post processing too, amazing how many ho-hum pictures I’ve seen in my local photo club critiques that are presented layered with HDR or whatever else, glistening and vibrant and just as ho-hum as before.

  • Rodolfo Arechiga

    Don’t be afraid to climb on top of your car to get the shot. The sky was amazing two days ago and I knew I had to capture it.

  • Michael

    You bring up a very good point, something we should all be aware of when considering views by full-time photographers. For instance, I have been to several Joe McNally seminars, read his books and purchased some of his videos. Yet in his book when I see the pains he goes through to capture natural light (sometimes requiring more than hours to get things “right”), I realize that we have different objectives – and that is the main factor we should all be considering. True coming from my photojournalist background Joe was not allowed to retouch photos, yet when perhaps 90% of the target audience will not be taking similar shots then The offer should spend a reasonable percentage of time addressing practical approaches for the masses. And I felt John Davenport struck a happy medium – many thanks, John.

  • Rob

    i like the old saying “the best accessory to your zoom lens is 2 feet, just walk closer when you can”

  • Greg

    Carried minimalist – but still complete – photographer gear kit on a 6-day mountaineering trip. Carrying a special camera bag in front of me on moderately-technical terrain, and a compact tripod on my backpack, made a good number of unusual shots possible.

  • Keith Griffiths

    There’s nothing like an article that makes you think!!! You must have been watching me.

  • Tony

    Oh man, John you hit me in the gut on every point. I mean this in a good way. I get so frustrated about not advancing/improving and reality is I am guilty of almost every point at some time or another. Thanks for the wake-up call. I’m posting this at the top of my Bookmarks list as a reminder to find ways to improve.

    If I could add one – well it’s probably my reason for points 1, 2, 4, & 6: I get in a hurry. I simply find myself not taking the time to assess/evaluate the scene. Now admittedly I am often with my family or with a group who get impatient waiting on me – but that’s just another excuse 🙂


  • Bob Bevan Smith

    Where are the other shots taken at this location? Did you take any others? Often the best shot is not the first. Did you try standing closer, and shooting across the front to get a closer view of the entrance? Or a closer view of the pub sign? How about some detail of the flower beds?
    What I am really saying is: see a scene, but then explore it. The laziest photographers see a scene, snap, and move on. (I hasten to say I do not suggest you are one of those!)

  • jfitz

    another sign: you consistently sleep in and miss the a.m. golden hour.

  • That’s true, I don’t think most people can be ‘on’ all the time.

  • Carl Lum

    Great article–it provides much food for thought. I really enjoyed your “behind the scenes” video showing how different perspectives can turn a so-so shot into a great one.

  • Piglet

    Agree and it’s fun to post process in Photoshop with different actions and techniques. My excuse…it rains almost everyday and every minute of it lately. Ugh so over it now. Maybe i should try and take a photo of lightning as we had lots of it the last couple of days.

  • your hash 5 is a good point except for those of us with limited mobility where it is tough to get to places and perhaps more importantly positions. for this I find a moveable view screen essential.

  • Nancy Tinkham

    So very lovely… thanks for sharing the photo of Dorset.

  • cynwit

    i like your perseverance Moura. Will try to do the same x

  • Fran

    You mean, just like “better pans won’t make you a better cook?”

  • Higbe33

    I enjoyed the article and guilty of 4, 5 and 6.

  • Matt Burt

    If I rush a photo (or get lazy) I’ll forget to check the corners and edges of the frame as much as I should when composing. Corners and edges can really make or break a composition. Having distracting elements in the frame or not using lines that you could have are often the flaws I’ll notice later. The rule of thirds usually comes naturally/easily but elsewhere in the frame takes more attention to detail. If I take the extra time to look at these areas and adjust the composition to include or exclude the right things the finished product is going to be so much better.

  • Barry Armstead

    I would have walked all over the area and picked up everything that makes straight lines and ditched them off the side. Some of the dead sticks and definitely the log with the chainsawed ends. They distract the eye from the natural, raw and untouched beauty of the scene.

  • Mike

    #7 when a photographer….oh I can’t be bothered to type it all out.

  • AngieDee

    I like the shot of Bear’s Den Falls where you’re shooting from above and capture both the whirlpool & waterfall best! Overall, amazing location and BEAUTIFUL photographs. Thank you!

  • Lee James

    I think people would be surprised at the incredible photos that can be taken right outside your door.NFL Snapback Hats

  • Hi Grandma!

  • Brett Ossman

    I always love the anti-post processing camp. If you post-process then the photo isn’t “real”. “Goof photographers don’t post”. I always reply “Are Monet’s paintings real?”. Maybe if you have eye sight issues. Photography is art, however you get there. However, if a photojournalism approach is your thing, that’s great too, just doesn’t make it “right or wrong”.

  • Brett Ossman

    Love the “to my taste” part. That speaks volumes. Like any kind of art, there is no right or wrong. Everyone likes what they like. You do what YOU like, and if anyone else likes it great. If not, so what. :-). The exception, of course, is if a paying client wants something in particular.

  • Sunny Choudhury

    The last Sunlight of the day, falling on a banana leaf…

  • Sunny Choudhury

    I use a point-and-shoot camera and try to get the best image possible out of it!
    Do comment fellas…

  • Sallie Potterton

    I noticed that too but we know what he meant 😉

  • Ben Miller

    I understand about post being used as a crutch as an I’ll fix it later excuse, but one thing I’m failing seeing people mention is if its something small but will still take a fair amount of time to fix in the moment and you have a client there on scene many times it can be the better choice to spend more time of your own fixing in post than taking up of their time in the moment. Yes its often the best choice to fix it right in the moment when you can but for people who shoot with antsy kids or brides who give you 1/2 the time to shoot that you need sometimes better to get ti close enough knowing you’ll have to tweak and fix in post.

  • Marian Murdoch

    Soooo true!!! The top photo was what I was actively shooting, and then I turned around and saw the rainbow…

  • I was thinking about doing a whole series using disposable cameras. I think it would stretch me. All I do all the time are people, and I think I am falling into lazy photographer mode.

  • plot_thickens

    #7. Presets.

  • Vincent Prasanna

    Great video analyzing the various compositional view points. Would be glad if you could come out with more such videos

  • Apple

    Lucky… I don’t have any of these qualities..
    But I use to search eBay for a good price of Nikon D7100..
    I always respect my camera Nikon D3100, and every time I across to hold the Better gear than what I am holding, I give the answer to my self by saying first I need to take all the good pictures from what I have…
    • I guess a person who is not passionate in photography is lazy photographer, who only try to make people to call him a photographer by holding a Dslr or SLR camera.
    • If we do anything we should respect what we do and photography is such a freedom of expression if we cannot respect it, then it’s a lazy photographer who doesn’t need any respect..
    This content of text is only my view..

  • Rob March

    Whenever I’m actively shooting I rarely feel like being lazy, I’ll crouch, wiggle around to get hat unique angle, or squeeze into that perfect position. But when I get in front of my computer after I’ve uploaded and ranked my pics I can’t get to the point to edit the best ones. I have a backlog of photos now because of it.

  • Darleen Stry

    People often don’t bring their tripod. This limits their ability to take long exposures and odds of a perfectly sharp picture even if sunny decrease without some stabilization.

  • jamesapril

    I think you mean gambling “addiction” not “addition.” Good article.

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