There are many mistakes beginner photographers make. It’s healthy to make mistakes so long as you learn from them. Be willing to understand why your photos are not turning out how you wanted them to. Don’t be quick to blame circumstances or your camera gear when you mess up.
Here are some common beginner photographer mistakes you can’t blame the camera for.
1. Poor composition
Poor composition is one of the main mistakes beginner photographers make. Not getting close enough to your subject, results in having too much unnecessary space in your pictures.
Sometimes being too close can ruin a composition too. Are you cutting off your subject’s feet?
Be mindful of what’s inside your frame. Ask yourself if everything you see is relevant to the picture you are taking? If it’s not, fix the mistake. Move closer, zoom or change your position.
Leaving excessive space above a person’s head is the most common compositional mistake I see beginner photographers make. Often what’s above a person’s head is not relevant to the photograph. Get closer or tilt your camera angle down to minimize this space.
2. Rushing your photography
Take your time, and you will take better photos. Being impatient will never make you a fabulous photographer. Whatever style of photography you engage in, being patient will benefit you.
Grabbed moments don’t often capture the best photographs. Of course, there are exceptions, but typically it pays to prepare yourself and anticipate action before it happens. Doing this, you can set your camera and line up your composition.
Using manual mode will help you slow down. You will visualize that you are photographing differently. This is because you are forced to think more about every aspect of taking your pictures.
During our photography workshops, I love to teach people how to slow down by using manual mode. Most people I teach develop their skills quickly. Their photos are well exposed and composed because they are working more slowly.
3. Distracting backgrounds
Having distracting backgrounds is another mistake beginner photographers make. It’s easy to concentrate on your main subject and not see what’s behind them until you look at your photos later.
When you do see that you have a distracting background, there are several options to avoid this.
- Use a longer focal length lens.
- Move your subject somewhere else.
- Change your camera angle or location.
- Use a wide aperture to blur the background.
A longer focal length lens will reduce the amount of background you see. Move back from your subject and use a longer focal length. You will see the background differently than using a wider lens.
Moving your subject or your camera location will change what’s behind your subject. Sometimes you will not be able to move your subject. When you can’t, you’ll have to move. This sometimes means you need to compromise with the lighting or composition.
Blurring a background can sometimes be the best way to avoid distractions. You’ll need to open your aperture wide to achieve this, except when you are using a long lens or focusing very close to your subject.
4. Not looking for alternative angles
Taking a picture from the first angle you think of, is not always going to make the best photo. This is another common mistake beginner photographers make.
Move around – even a little. Shift your camera from side to side. Tilt it higher or lower. Pay attention to the relationships of elements in your composition as you do this. At times, even a very slight alteration of your camera angle will result in a more striking photograph.
Always consider taking both a vertical and a horizontal perspective with your camera. When you can’t make everything fit the way you want, use a Dutch Tilt. Turning your camera to an off-kilter angle to accommodate your subject can work very well.
When you find something interesting enough to photograph, take more than one or two frames. Looking at a subject from different angles will help you visualize it in fresh ways. I think one of the advantages of using prime lenses is that you are more likely to move about to change your composition. You cannot stand in the same spot and zoom, so you will be more inclined to seek out different points of view.
5. Not giving people enough direction
How often do you avoid giving directions to the people and have them pose awkwardly? These are common mistakes beginner photographers often make.
Communicate well with the people you photograph. Talk to them about what you are doing and how you want them to look in the photo. Start with some easy, relaxed poses so they’ll be more confident with you.
If you leave them to come up with poses on their own, they may not be very interesting.
People will feel better when you give them direction, particularly if you do so with relaxed confidence. Be clear about what you want them to do and speak to them politely.
6. Failing to relate to your subject, whatever you are photographing
When photographing people, it’s important to develop a rapport with them. Give them instructions so you can get the photos you want. Moreover, connecting with these people.
If you spend your time looking down fiddling with your camera settings, your subject will most likely feel awkward. You might want to adjust your camera settings, so they are technically perfect. But when you fail to relate to your subject, you will not capture the most interesting photo.
This is most important when you’re photographing people, but not exclusive. Whatever your subject, you’ll make more appealing photos when you include feeling.
Think about why you are photographing something.
What attracted you to take these pictures? How can you incorporate this feeling into the photos you take?
Many beginner photographers will find this challenging. However, as long as you are aware of how you relate to your subject and seek to develop this, you will become more skilled at it.
7. Being fearful to take photos
Many beginner photographers will hesitate to go after the pictures they want because they are fearful.
If you want to photograph something dangerous, where there’s a high degree of risk, being fearful is natural and healthy. For example, it wouldn’t be wise to get close to a bear cub or a poisonous snake in the wild. These situations require fear to motivate us to keep our distance.
Not photographing people because you are fearful that you might impose is entirely different. You can’t know how someone will respond until you ask if you can take their photo. It’s taken me years to learn this, and still, at times, I hesitate.
Tame the negative, fearful thoughts in your head. When you see something you want to photograph, consider the reason why and how you can. Don’t be consumed by thoughts and excuses of why not and how not.
Being committed to the ideas you have about the photos you want to capture will help you develop your personal photography style.
Mistakes beginner photographers make can be very frustrating. When you take your time and review the photos you take, you’ll see how to improve and not keep making the same mistakes.
Moreover, look over the photos you take each time you load them to your computer. This is most helpful when you have not deleted the ‘duds’ off your cards before uploading.
When you see your best and worst photos side by side, this can help you grow as a photographer.
Are there any other mistakes that you have made as a beginner photographer that you’d like to help others learn from? If so, please share them with us in the comments section.