When it comes to learning photography, we are bound to make mistakes. Mistakes are an important part of learning any new skill, especially a complicated craft like photography. The key to overcoming mistakes in the future is by fully understanding the mistakes you’re making, and taking measures to ensure you don’t make them again. In this article we are going to cover 5 of the most common photography mistakes that beginner photographers make, as well as how you can fix those mistakes next time you’re out shooting. Let’s go!
READ OR WATCH: This blog post is also available in video form! If you’d rather watch me explain this content, simply watch the video below. Otherwise you can find the text guide below. Just keep scrolling!
1. Images That Lack a Clear Subject
What am I supposed to look at?
Images that are not well composed or lack a distinct subject often lack depth and appear flat. We often see this in the form of photographs of trees or plants. Just because you have a beautiful plant doesn’t mean a photograph of that plant will be beautiful. Be deliberate about composing a photograph that depicts that plant in a beautiful way. If you don’t, your image might look more like an amateur snapshot than anything else.
2. Not Paying Attention to Lighting
The time of day isn’t the only thing that matters.
I’ve always said that lighting it the most importrant factor fora goodi mage, and yet it’s so often overlooked. Many of us know that the best time to take photos is at sunset or sunrise, as this is the time of day that has the softest and most beautiful natural light. But shooting at these times of day is only half the battle.
The other 50% is your angle and perspective to the sun. If youtakea photo looking into the sun, it will lookd rmaatically different from a photo takenwiththe sun at your back.
I almost never shoot with the sun behind me, as it results in an image that lacks shadows and is flat and boring. SHooting into the sun or with the sun tothe side of my subject results in many interesting and complex shadows that creates depth and emotion in my photos.
Next time you’re out shooting, play close attention to where the sun is in accordance to you, and your subject. If you can understand how this will impact your images, you’ll be well on your way to establishing yourself as an amazing photographer.
3. Using the Wrong Camera Mode
Stop using manual mode.
The third common mistake I see with beginner photographers is the use of improper camera modes. Of course, full auto mode is something that should never be used as it removes all your creative control over your camera.
But manual mode is another camera mode that is used when it simply shouldn’t be. It’s not always practical to adjust all of your settings in every situation.
Rather, half-auto modes like aperture priority are fantastic modes that make more sense than manual mode in 90% of situations. This is something I discuss quite deeply in this article: Why You Don’t Need to Shoot in Manual Mode.
In short, you don’t need to use manual mode to take good images, and insisting on manual mode at all times can negatively impact the outcome of your images. Don’t let your ego prevent you from taking good photos, stop using manual mode today!
4. Photos With a Cliche Theme
Avoid the cringe.
Before writing this blog post I did quite a bit of research on what other photographers thought the most common photography mistakes to be. Not one of those blogs mentioned this, and yet it’s possibly the most common (and worst) mistake of them all!
One of the best ways to ensure your photos look amateur is by shooting a theme that is cliche, or by relying on your model/subject to make your photo look good.
This most commonly comes in the form of shooting a beautiful woman in a setting that does not make sense. For example, shooting a woman in a bikini or lingerie in the middle of a city. Realistically, that woman would never wear those clothes in that situation. If she was on a beach, that would be a much more believable story. Why does this matter?
Good images don’t just look good physically, but they tell a story. This story allows the viewer to relate to your image and elicits some type of emotional response within them. If you neglect the story side of photography you will never truly reach your potential as a photographer. A story that is unbelievable or tacky (like a woman posing in a situation that’s unrealistic), is not a story people can relate to. Rather, a photo that captures a realistic moment in time can cause your viewer to feel like they were there, resulting in a stronger emotional response.
Next time you go out and shoot, take some time to really think through the story you want to tell. For example, if you’re photographing a friend in a park by your house, what kinds of things can you add to the shoot to tell a story? Simply by adding props like a picnic blanket, a basket, a bottle of wine, and some snacks can tell a story of you and your friend relaxing in a park on a warm summer afternoon. This is much more compelling and interesting than a few random portraits of your friend sitting on the grass.
5. Shooting Everything at Eye Level
Change your perspective!
Last but certainly not least is the common mistake of shooting all your images from the same perspective. Most commonly this perspective is eye level.
By simply adjusting your perspective to your subject you can dramatically change the way your photo looks. Try shooting your subject in 50 different ways every-time you shoot. Shoot from above, from below, from the side, top down, etc. Get creative with it! The more you experiment with different perspectives, the more you’ll learn about what angles you like and which look best.
What/who do you want to photograph?
There are many more common mistakes that could have been covered here, but I didn’t want to diminish the importrance of these five by adding more. These are the most common mistakes I see on a daily basis, and they can lead to images that are sub-par.
If you notice yourself making these mistakes, that’s great! The first step to improving is recognizing the mistakes that you’re making. Only then are you able to reflect on those mistakes and take steps to overcoming them.