Here are some photo mistakes I’ve made personally or learned from talking to other photographers. Many of these mistakes come from a lack of gear. Don’t worry, I don’t own most of it either. Consider renting gear, lighting, and even studio space. I use this camera hire site here in Australia.
1 – Not Using a Tripod
One of the first things you learn in photography is to take pictures from different perspectives. It’s what makes them fresh and unique. It’s also what makes them blurry, especially in low-light situations. Use a tripod when the conditions require near-perfect stillness. Many times I have thought “I can just snap this pic without going back to the truck to grap the pod.” Any time I fail to use a tripod I regret it later.
2 – Using Too Much Contrast
Too much contrast leads to too strong of a difference between the shadows (the dark areas) and the highlights (the lighter areas). This is typical when the sun is out in full force and directly overhead. Using a flash can help highlight some of the shadows. So can changing the amount of stops you use.
3 – Not Backing Up Your Photos
This one isn’t so much about your actual photography as much as it’s about what you do with them when you’re finished. As you develop your craft and take on more gigs, backing up your photos can be one of the last things on your mind — until your hard drive crashes. Do yourself a favor, and make it a habit.
4 – Using USB to Transfer Photos
It’s called a CF card reader, and it does amazing things. They transfer photos a lot quicker than your USB could ever dream of doing. You can usually buy them for less than $10, too. If your camera still uses an SD card, you can always use the SD card reader on your computer instead.
5 – Using Free Photo editing Software
There’s a reason why the heavy hitters like Photoshop are so commonly referenced when it comes to photography — they do the best job. Well actually some of them are pretty good, but there is something that happens mentally when you invest in photoshop or lightroom. You put skin in the game. This causes you to spend more time getting good at the program.
6 – Not have a prop stash.
This is geared toward portrait, fashion,and baby photographers. If you are shooting a model, a baby, sometimes even weddings having props to spice up the picture and add variety can be very helpful. I have a blue case full of stuff. Another trick I use is If I know if shooting a model or a friend, I will find pictures of them and use this virtual glasses try-on app to get an idea of what glasses I want to bring. Stockpile stuff, people throw away accessories all the time. Keep your eye out and build your collection.
This has the most value when you are doing baby photography. Distracting a baby with an object is a trick as old as time, but babies get bored with objects real quick. So having a myriad of stuff to distract them with can go along away. If you want more tips on shooting babies I have shared more tips here.
7 – Using the Wrong Lenses
Just as you wouldn’t use a telephoto lens to shoot a close up photo, you shouldn’t use an 18- 250mm lens for a job that requires 35mm, or something else. Yes, those lenses are technically capable of reaching 35mm, but they’re not dedicated for it. If you choose not to use the right lens for the job, you’re ruining your sharpness and quality.
8 – Shooting in Lower Quality Modes
Sure, a slightly lower quality saves space on your disk. You may even be able to squeeze an extra 100 photos from the shutter. But, you’ll lose out on quality and, more importantly, editing ability. Do you know what will help you take more pictures without losing quality? Buying another card.
9 – Shooting in JPG
This is kind of like shooting in a lower mode, but maybe more detrimental to your photos. JPG mode automatically adjusts image settings such as white balance, saturation, contrast, and sharpness. It also compresses the image. Take it off the JPG, and put it on RAW. You’ll have a lot more options when you edit later, and your pictures will be richer.
10 – Shooting Underexposed/Overexposed Pictures
If your image looks too dark, or too bright, adjust the aperture to change the light setting. Yes, some of this can be editing in a (dedicated) photo editing program later, but your options will be limited. Adjust your aperture to match. While you’re at it, take pictures from a range of different apertures that way you have plenty to choose from later.
11 – Using Auto Mode
This might be the worst sin of all on this list. It’s so easy to use when you need a foray of quick shots. And sure, maybe an auto mode shot here or there isn’t a bad thing when you know that you don’t need to adjust your camera settings for the shot. But, you’re a photographer for a reason. You make your money because you understand the science behind a picture, not because you have something that captures images automatically for you.