Beginner Photographer Mistakes
As a new photographer, it’s inevitable that you’re going to make mistakes. Some of the most common beginner photographer mistakes are also the easiest to fix. When you first start taking photos, your images may be underexposed, overexposed, out of focus, poorly composed, or just plain old dull and boring. Don’t let it get you down or stress you out because it’s all part of the process you need to go through to learn photography. With digital photography you can take as many images as you need and make as many mistakes as necessary to perfect your craft.
It helps to approach photography with realistic expectations. You can’t expect to learn everything about photography all at once or with just one course. It takes time to learn about the different qualities of light, exposure, ISO, shutter speed, composition, and flash. We recommend starting your journey by building a solid foundation that starts with learning how your camera works. Nearly every beginning photographer starts off with minimal knowledge of how to properly operate the camera they are holding in their hands. Today’s digital cameras have far more power, tools, features, and capabilities than you can imagine. Don’t stress out if you don’t know or use every single feature on your camera. Just start with the fundamentals and work from there.
Constantly Develop your Skills
Remember that photography is a never ending learning process that takes time and dedication to master. Making mistakes is a natural part of learning process. The fact is nearly every beginning photographer starts off with little to no knowledge of how to properly operate the camera and take quality photographs. Photography is a craft and you have to constantly work on improving and developing your image taking skills.
Photography Mistakes to Avoid and How to Fix Them
1. Not Knowing the Settings on Your Camera
Chances are you just spent hundreds, or maybe thousands of dollars on a new camera. You’ll probably be surprised to see the user manual is a puny, poorly written, black and white book that you can’t read without a darn magnifying glass. Fortunately, most camera user manuals are now available online and in PDF format. Your camera may include a disk with the manual, or you can download a PDF version of the manual from the camera manufacturer website.
Before you take another photo, READ THE MANUAL from read the user manual from front to back!!! And when you’re done, read it again!
While you’re going through the manual, be sure to learn how change these key settings on your camera;
- ISO Sensitivity (you may have manual, presets, and automatic options
- Internal Camera Menu (learn how to navigate)
- Exposure Modes (Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority)
- Shutter Speed
- White Balance (auto, preset, manual)
- File Type (JPEG & RAW)
- Flash (learn to turn the built in flash on and off)
- Focusing – Automatic Focus (AF) and Manual Focus (MF)
- Focusing Modes (Single-servo AF, Continuous-servo AF)
- Drive (or Burst) Modes (Single, Low Continuous, High Continuous)
- Format the memory card (it erases your images, so learn to back up your photos)
- Exposure Compensation
- Self Timer
Memorize the location of key settings on your camera until making changes becomes second nature. Changing ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed should be natural as flipping a light switch. If your camera user manual is not sufficient or too difficult to follow, read our article on how to Build a Resource Library for your Camera. So number one on our list of Beginner Photographer Mistakes is to read the manual.
2. Not Learning the Basic Photographic Terms and Concepts
You must learn to crawl before you can walk and photography isn’t very different. One of the biggest mistake beginner photographers make is not learning the basic. You have to learn the basics so you have a solid foundation to build upon. You can go from zero to Ansel Adams overnight. Great photos are made with a combination of skill and creativity.
So, take some time to learn about light, the different types of light, and the significant role light has on creating an image. Learn all about ISO and how changing ISO increases or decreases exposure. Get to know the shutter speed and how to stop action or show motion. Learn how ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed are the foundation of photographic exposure. Photography Course has plenty of lessons and courses to help you master the basic.
3. Being Too Afraid to Try Something New
We’re going to start this section with a brief Doctor Phil moment. It’s human nature to fear the unknown. Mastering a new skill can be a frightening experience and you may get overwhelmed as we introduce you to all this complicated photography stuff. Just remember one things – your camera won’t bite, we promise. It won’t talk back, it won’t break (unless you drop it). So, take a deep breath and jump in with both feet.
Humans are creatures of habit, and it’s no exception when it comes to photography. We find a lot of new photographers will learn a few basic settings and stop learning new techniques as soon as their pictures start turning fairly decent. Complacency can make a potentially great photographer average (and possibly a little dull and uninspiring).
Our response is to overcome your fears and be a BADASS! Aim high and set your sights on learn one new skill a week. Get outside your comfort zone, turn off all those automatic settings, and try something new. Use laser focus to learn everything you can about flash, night photography, depth of field, or white balance. We promise you’ll be glad you did.
4. Staying in Automatic Mode
There are automatic settings for nearly everything on your camera (Exposure, ISO, White Balance, Focus, etc.). Automatic settings makes your life easier because these features do everything for you so you get the best picture possible. The downside to using automatic settings on your camera is they can become a crutch and will hold you back from developing your photography skills. It’s like keeping training wheels on a bicycle; at some point you have to take them off.
If you’re apprehensive about turning off automatic settings, we recommend taking it one step at a time. Going from fully automatic to manual may be too much, too soon. You may want to start with automatic focus. Or, try setting your ISO manually. Once you have grown accustomed to using one manual setting, move on to the next. As you start to migrate from automatic to manual settings is that you will have greater creative control and you will be on the path to making better photographs. Number four on our list of beginner photographer mistakes is to wean yourself off automatic settings.
5. Being a Fairweather Photographer
Everyone loves a day in the great outdoors with warm dry weather and the bright sunshine. And you may think sunny days are ideal for photography. But as you become a more experienced and creative photographer, you will soon learn poor weather can be the best time to take photographs. As a matter of fact, shooting in direct sunlight is less than ideal because you have to deal with the harsh sunlight and shadows. It’s easy to take overexposed images under the bright sunlight.
Try taking some shots on a cloudy or partially cloudy day. If you’re an early riser, photography the sunrise, or capture a sunset at the end of the day. Don’t be afraid to head out into the snow or on a rainy day. Take some time to learn about the light and how it impacts your photos. As you start to explore light you will soon learn how soft light is more flattering than direct sunlight. Number five on our beginner photographer mistakes list is to get out in all types of weather.
6. Not Using a Tripod
Certain situations call for the use of a tripod. Generally speaking, a shutter speed at or below 1/60th second requires the use of a tripod. A longer lens focal length and longer exposure will increase the probability of camera shake. This will result is blurred and out of focus images. You need a tripod if your shutter speed is longer than the reciprocal of your focal length. For example, if you’re shooting with a 50mm lens and your shutter speed is 1/50th or below, you should use a tripod.
Tripods are usually required for action and sports photography, interior and evening real estate photography, showing the motion of moving water using a slower shutter speed, close-ups and macro photography, when using a telephoto lens, nature photography, long exposures, landscapes, time lapse photography, self-portraits, night and astrophotography, HDR and multiple exposures, and panning.
Tripods are a “must have” in your photography bag of tricks. Using a tripod will make a difference in your photography because it slows the photo making process. Since you’re taking the time to set up a tripod, you’ll be more conscious of the image you’re taking. When you slow the image making process down, you will make better decisions regarding composition and exposure that will result in better quality photos. So use a tripod whenever you can.
7. Not Changing Camera Settings
If you rely heavily upon automatic settings, then you probably don’t change your settings unless your photos are not turning out. If you’re changing locations, the weather changes, or you’re taking photos at different times of the day, you need to change your settings accordingly.
One example is white balance. A majority of beginning photographers use Auto White Balance (AWB) because they don’t understand exactly what the setting does. White balance sets the color temperature of light in your camera that will be use to take your photo. The purpose of the setting is to calibrate your camera so it produces an accurate rendering of color based on current lighting conditions. White balance is represented in Degrees Kelvin. The white balance in bright daylight is around 5500K, dark shade is 9000K, and interior lights about 3000K.
If you start taking photos on a sunny day and you’re using an white balance of 5500K, then you move indoors, you need to change it to 3000K. The same holds true for ISO. If you’re shooting in the bright sun, you’re probably using the lowest ISO of 100. If you’re still shooting at sunset, you probably need to increase your ISO to 400. The bottom line is you need to get into the habit of checking and adjusting your white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and aperture before each shot if you change locations or shoot at different times during the day (or if the weather changes). Number seven on our list of beginner photographer mistakes is to change the settings on your camera.
8. Only Shooting at Eye Level
It’s human nature to shoot standing up with the camera at eye level. It is, after all, how we see the world when we’re not sitting or lying down. Shooting at eye level can seem natural and ordinary, but it can make your photos boring and uninteresting. Change your perspective can have a huge impact on your images.
Try raising the camera above your head or shoot your subject from over 10 feet. Or, crouch down close to the ground and shoot from a low angle. Shooting from different perspective can have a profound impact on your images. Number eight on our list of beginner photographer mistakes is to shoot from different angles.
9. Out of Focus Images
Taking images that are out of focus is a common beginner photography mistake. Images end up blurred because of camera shake, failure to focus on the right spot, or using a shutter that is too slow to freeze the action. If your images are not consistently sharp, you may have an issue with focus.
A key skill every photographer must master is taking a sharp image that is in focus (unless you deliberately intend to blur your image for creative purposes). To correct this problem start with turning off auto focus and focus manually. Next, check your initial test shots by previewing your images. Be sure to zoom in so you can see whether the detail of your images is in focus. Be sure your shutter speed is fast enough (at least one over your focal length). Increase your ISO and shutter speed to get a sharper image and use Image Stabilization or a tripod. So number nine on our list of beginner photographer mistakes is to stay in focus.
10. Expecting an Expensive Camera to Make You a Better Photographer
For new and experienced photographers, getting a new camera is fun and exciting. A new camera can motivate you to get out and test drive new features. It can also help you be more creative. A larger sensor and internal processor will certainly produce better quality images, but it won’t make you a better photographer.
Regardless of the camera you’re using, you still need to wean yourself off all those automatic settings and learn to master the basics of exposure and composition. Before going out any buying expensive gear, first work on advancing your knowledge of photography and learn how to fully utilize the features of your camera before buying new gear.
When you’re just starting out in photography, sometimes it’s difficult to know where to start. This article was written to put you on the path to taking better photos. Beginner photographer mistakes can be corrected by learning the fundamentals of photography basics and how to properly use the settings on your camera. Focus on mastering one skill at a time. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Be fearless and most of all, HAVE FUN!!!