Mistakes are an inevitable phase of learning – there’s no denying that. But for budding photographers, the faster you can overcome these mistakes, the quicker clients will beat a path to your doorstep.
Here is a compilation of 10 common photography mistakes amateur shooters make and the accompanying tips on how to resolving them.
1. Buying lots of photography gear simultaneously
The tendency or temptation of acquiring tons of new photography gear at once affects not just beginners but seasoned photographers as well.
However, most of the time it is the beginners who tend to think that buying the flashiest gear is going to make them the best photographers overnight. First of all, buying a new lens, flash or camera won’t make you any better at this craft that you already are.
In fact, a good photographer can easily capture great photos with just about any camera. What is more important is the creativity, technical knowledge and a keen eye for lighting that will transform you to a better photographer.
Obviously, this does not mean you should never buy new gear. If anything, better equipment can propel your game further and help you scale photographic heights you hadn’t even dreamt of before. Just remember to improve your skills as the photographer as much as you’re updating your gear.
2. Of distorted horizons and how to correct the accompanying mess
Picture this: You are just about to capture a breathtaking sunset with your latest top-shelf camera. But in the eagerness of capturing the perfect sunset, you forget to ensure to set the horizon level. As a result, all the sunset photos are crooked.
Luckily for you, there is a simple way of fixing this – through photo editing software of the likes of Photoshop or Lightroom. Thanks to such applications, you can make the appropriate edits by angling the canvas to a horizontal position to resolve the misalignment.
Otherwise, remember also to turn on your camera’s electronic spirit level or virtual horizon for better precision whenever taking such photos.
3. Using the wrong white balance
Have you ever noticed that sometimes your photographs look too cool or too warm? And if you’re keen enough, this problem can be traced back to how your camera assesses the environment’s white balance, especially if you’re using AWB.
While your camera’s AWB (automatic white balance) can help you determine a suitable setting based on the prevailing lighting conditions, the best way of doing this is by tweaking your settings manually. After that, you’ll notice that your photos will appear more natural, and you won’t need to do lots of editing work later on.
4. Lens distortion
Well, it is no secret that beginners are more likely to use the wrong lens for a given shot compared to established photographers. As a consequence, subjects in their photos appear warped or even at times completely inaccurate. Not to mention that in some types of photography, using the wrong lens introduces undesirable elements like the loss of brightness or colour around the edges of the photo taken.
The first and obvious solution is choosing the right lens with a suitable focal length for your subject. There are some cameras that even apply corrections automatically as you capture JPEG images. However, the easiest way of restoring balance after you’ve already taken the photo is by editing the photo manually, courtesy of Lightroom or Photoshop.
5. Dealing with out of focus images
Relying on autofocus alone is like driving in reverse gear without even bothering to check the rear-view mirror. It is not recommended to any professional photographer, let alone a budding one.
Sometimes the camera gets it all wrong – just like any computerised device. And as a result, you’ll find that the final focus is on something in front of or behind your preferred subject. So, to make sure your camera chooses your preferred focus point, set focus mode as single point AF if using manual focus is not your thing.
6. Blurred images
You can concur with me that sometimes your photos look great in terms or colour balance and accuracy, but not quite as sharp as you would expect from a high-end camera. Welcome to the world of subtly blurred images.
Blurring can be the result of various factors, e.g the movement of the camera during exposure, wrong focus point or subject movement. Unless the blur is meant to be an artistic effect, there are some ways you can ensure sharper photos. Which, as usual, includes using a tripod to minimise accidental shakes and thumping up the ISO sensitivity to roughly 1/80 seconds with a shutter speed of 1/125s.
7. Dark and dull looking photos
Any photographer today – beginner or otherwise – has ever experienced a situation where their photos look darker than the real scene. The phenomenon often results from your camera’s meter reading influencing the light exposure and balance. The remedy for is quite simple, and you might also heard about it – exposure compensation. Applying exposure compensation will not only give your images more life but also add more punch, colour, and vibrancy. In most DSLR shooters, you can set this feature in the automatic mode settings.
8. Poor composition
Composition – despite what most people think – is the art of balancing an image to enrich the flow. Speaking of which most beginners are often under the impression that capturing a photo with the subject directly in the centre is all they need to do to end up with an attractive photo. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. There’s more to photos than simply positioning an image.
One of my favourite composition methods is the principle of thirds. You can also try it if you’re also having problems getting your subject to really stand out in your photos. This is where you subdivide the frame into thirds, both horizontally and vertically using two lines. You then place your subject at the intersection point of the lines or along the lines, to create a more captivating image.
9. Too much editing
Good post-processing of photos is just about being subtle; improving instead of overpowering a photo. Too much HDR or excessive contrast can make your photos appear tasteless.
Remember that each photo is unique, so it is important to use different effects and filters based on what the photo requires. For instance, increasing saturation properties on landscape photos may look amazing, but doing the same effects on portrait photos will be quite unflattering.
10. Overlooking the basics of photography
In my opinion, the problem with most budding photographers is that after learning all the relevant skills like focus, composition and exposure, they tend to lose grasp of the very basics of photography. Which includes things like charging your batteries, carrying spares, backing up memory cards and ensuring you have all your gear before heading out to an event. Simple things that can mean the difference between a successful photo shoot and a downright flop.
Lastly, always remember to remove the lens cap once you start taking photos. You will be surprised to know that such a seemingly minor slip plagues experienced photographers as well.
Photography can be very fun and rewarding, especially if you already enjoy it. Don’t fear to venture out and invent your unique style so long as you stick to the rules of decent photography. Try new perspectives, poses, editing styles etc. Since as long as you have a camera, you are at the pinnacle of human creativity.