Photography, just like everything else, comes with a learning curve. Usually it takes a long time to figure everything out and get in a good routine because we make so many mistakes along the way. I should know. I’ve been guilty of this entire list. That’s why I wrote it, so you won’t waste time like I did making photography mistakes!
1) That’s Good Enough
The “that’s good enough” mistake is when you are out taking photographs and you are worn out. You’ve been at it all day and you almost have to perfect composition or lighting and you take a photograph that is so close to perfect and you say, “That’s good enough.” Trust me, it’s never good enough! You will load your photos onto your computer and wish you had taken the extra five minutes to compose it perfectly or waited for the perfect lighting. Accepting mediocrity in photography will not cut it. You have to make the photograph perfect before you leave or else you will be kicking yourself every time you look at the photograph!
2) I’ll Fix it in Photoshop
I almost grouped this mistake in with number one. You will be out taking photos and you’ll be so close to that breakthrough photograph and you’ll quit because you think you can fix it in Lightroom or Photoshop. I know that photo editing software is a powerful beast that can do amazing things to fix almost any problem. But, come on, the photograph will look so much better if you make the photograph as close to perfect as you can get it in the camera instead of on your computer. If you rely on Lightroom and Photoshop to fix your photography problems you might not get the best, most natural results.
3) The Obsession with Gear
We all know someone who is absolutely obsessed with the latest and greatest technology. Photography is no different. A new camera or lens is not going to make your photographs better. Yes, they might allow you to use more tools, but unless you continue to practice the craft of photography, you will never take better photographs. Understanding composition and lighting is WAY more important than better gear. Learn to use the gear you have inside and out, then learn some more. After that, you have my permission to buy new equipment.
4) Going Too Fast
SLOW DOWN! Photography is not a race! Listen, I learned this the hard way. I’m an extremely task oriented person. For an entire year I would rush to a location, run down the list of photographs I wanted as fast as I could, and then I would be disappointed when I loaded my photographs onto my computer. I never could build a portfolio because all of my photographs were terrible. It wasn’t until I slowed down and spent at least an hour in each location, moving around to different angles, that I started to build a quality portfolio. After all, people want quality over quantity in photography.
5) Being Afraid of Looking Stupid
Everybody is weird. In photography you cannot be afraid to be weird in public. Photographers get the best angles because they aren’t afraid of getting down on their stomach in dirt in the middle of a busy park to add tree roots into a frame (not that I know from experience of anything…) Yes, you will look weird and people will certainly whisper and giggle about your tactics. However, when you show them the killer results they will be amazed at what you can do with a camera. Just watch out for dog poop before you lay down in a park.
6) Not Using Your Camera Creatively
As a photographer, you have to learn how to use your camera in every situation that can possibly occur. Recently, I was testing a camera bag I recommend on my recommended gear page (shameless plug) and I realized during the test that if I added photos of the bag being tested, the article would be more credible. Just one problem, I was just only one testing the bag. My first though was to abandon the idea. WRONG! I ended up setting the self-timer on my DSLR to take photographs of myself using and hiking with the camera bag. The results were great! The moral of the story: don’t give up, just be creative.
7) Using the Aperture Too Wide
A lot of times, new photographers get so excited about lenses that go really wide to f/2 that they go way overboard. For instance, if you are taking portrait photos and using a Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Camera Lens, don’t use it wide open! Sure, the depth of field might look really good, but the person paying you for the portraits wants their whole face in focus, not just their nose. An aperture of f/4 will please them and they won’t notice the difference unless they are a photography wiz too.
8) Keeping Your Photos on the Shelf
Often times the hardest talent to see is our own. That’s why I know so many photographers, myself included, that have had amazing photographs sitting on their hard drive collecting dust. Here’s how I usually avoid this. When I get back from a shoot, I’ll immediately load my photos onto Lightroom. I’ll give my very best photographs five stars and the photographs that would normally sit on my hard drive receive one star. The five star photographs go to my portfolio, and the one star photographs go to a stock photography site. That way the one star photographs that would normally sit and take up space earn money. After all, they really aren’t bad photographs.
Remember, learn from my mistakes and you will cut your photography learning curve in half! If this list helped, find more lists and tips on my Pinterest page!