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What are the common mistakes in photography? How can you avoid them? Photography is a wonderfully empowering art form but it also comes with a great number of pitfalls that not only beginners, but even seasoned photographers, find themselves falling into.
Many of these mistakes simply need more practise and knowledge to overcome but others require that you look at the photo taking process in a new way.
The 7 Most Common Mistakes that Photographers Make.
The following are some of the most common mistakes in photography.
Focusing on the wrong part of the image.
This is a common mistake that many beginners find themselves making. This is particularly likely if you rely on your camera’s auto focus to select the focal point in the image for you. This can lead to frustrating results where the perfect one off shot is spoiled by having your intended subject blurred or just out of focus.
To correct this issue you need to use your camera’s spot focus mode and take control of selecting the focal point yourself. When you are focusing on a human or animal subject make sure that the eyes are crystal clear and in perfect focus. When picturing a feature in the landscape focus on the details that you want to stand out, for example the part of a tree that you want to pick out.
The Camera Shake.
If you are taking photos and keep finding that they are coming out blurred, unclear and lacking the sharp clarity you would expect the reason could be that you’re shaking slightly as you take the picture. You might think that you are going to need to use a tripod to get clear images but this is not true!
The most likely reason why your photos are coming out shaky is because you are using a shutter speed that is too slow. Increasing the shutter speed means that the frame will be taken more quickly and naturally counterbalance any slight shake in your hands as you take the photo.
The minimum shutter speed that you can use to avoid getting the shake in your photos is between 1/50 to 1/125 of a second. You will still need to experiment with your camera but don’t be afraid to go faster than that either as different lenses will produce varying results. Just remember that increasing the shutter speed is probably the answer to your shaky photos!
A badly composed photo will take away from the subject and leave your audience feeling confused as to what the photo is trying to achieve. This will leave you disappointed and frustrated but the good news is that you can easily work on this aspect of your work.
There are some general guidelines that you can easily learn about and use in your photography to improve your compositions including the Rule of Thirds, making use of positive and negative space and employing leading lines within your photos to draw the eye of your viewers through a carefully constructed narrative in the image.
Falling into the ‘Spray and Pray’ Trap!
This is a mistake that we’ve all made but is unlikely to get you great results and will not help you grow as a photographer. The ‘Spray and Pray’ technique is where you point your camera at the subject and hold your finger down on the shoot button and just snap dozens of photos in a row!
To get over this problem you will need to learn to compose your images with more discipline, care and thoughtful consideration. Spend time thinking about what you are about to shoot and imagine in your mind how it will turn out. Another technique to employ is to force yourself to take every photo in one shot for a few months to get used to getting the results you are trying to in one go. This will make you spend more time analyzing the scene and help you to pick the right moment to snap! It may be tough at first but once you get used to this method you will quickly see your photos improving and becoming more balanced, focused and powerful.
Using the wrong format when you are shooting.
If you’re taking photos and they are coming out looking drab and dull when you want to make the most of the colors, shadows and other light features it can be a great idea to use the RAW format. This has a higher range of tonal variation and can capture the essence of your subjects more accurately.
The RAW setting does not compress the image files on your camera and captures all the information that your camera’s sensor receives; and so consequently RAW files take up a lot more space, but the advantage is that using this format produces a higher quality finished product.
On some cameras you will also have a setting which allows you to take smaller sized RAW file photos which will still compress the image less than the standard mode and produce better results for you.
Post Production Traps.
Post production software is a fantastic new technology that has helped to change photography forever however many beginners fall into the trap of doing way too much post production work using fancy software, filters and editing tools. Photos that have been over worked on in post production look fake and amateur and will take away from the original image!
Striking the balance between doing no post production work and way too much is difficult though, because in some circumstances a little post production work can really complete your photo and make it look more professional.
I follow many photographers from Philadelphia on Instagram. There is a great deal of emphasis on post production these days. Many of them tend to overdo things in post production. As a result the image that they produce tend to look very artificial.
A great way to learn how to get the balance right is to find other photographers whose work you admire and reach out to them; send them a message online or drop them an email. Ask them if they could tell you about how they were getting their results and give it a try yourself! Alternatively you can read some of the many books available that take you through the post production process, which varies significantly between the different genres of photography.
Forgetting what you did well in the past!
When you learn a new technique or are trying out different settings on your camera you may take some great pictures and get excited before moving on to the next thing! However, a week or two later you find that you’ve forgotten what you did, what the exact settings were that worked and you’ll struggle to repeat the good past results.
One easy way to overcome this is to keep a photography journal where you write down the things you tried and how it went. You should also keep a record of the photos that you took using different apertures, shutter speeds, the type of lighting at the time, any lenses you were using and the exposure settings.
This means that when you look back over your past work and experiments it will be easy for you to identify where you went wrong and what you got right. Consistency is one of the most important things to learn in photography, particularly if you want to work as a freelancer or turn pro, so getting into good habits early on will stand you in good stead to evolve your style and technique.
Bonus Pro Tip – Learn About and Practice the Big Three Settings.
Try to avoid always shooting in the auto mode and instead make the most of your camera’s capabilities by working in the manual setting. The most important 3 things that you need to learn about on your camera is how to control and use the aperture, the shutter speed and the ISO.
Learning how these work and how you can use them is invaluable knowledge that you will use again and again throughout your photography career. They can seem complicated at first but as long as you stick with it, practise a lot and stay open to learning new things you will soon master these fundamental tools on your camera!
The Common Mistakes that Photographers make are easy to avoid.
The first step to avoiding the most common mistakes in photography is to become aware of them as you do make them and then to try new approaches to taking your photos.
With awareness of the problems, knowledge of the solutions and the practical ways to solve them you can easily improve your photography and start learning to avoid the common mistakes. Consistency and clarity of thought are traits that all good photographers have, as well as a willingness to constantly learn new things, improve on their past work and stay true to their creative vision.
With a little practise, patience and resolve you can quickly overcome the mistakes you are making in your photography and rapidly become a better photographer! The learning curve can seem steep at first but if you embrace the challenge then you will soon have mastered more than just the basics of photography!
What were some of the mistakes you were making when you started out?