This week we’ll talk about mistakes, and I’ll list the 15 mistakes beginner photographers make. As nobody is born knowing nothing in life to make mistakes is part of the learning process. And believe the more you make the more mistakes you learn.
Of course, always making mistakes in the same things, without ever challenging yourself, can become a danger and also a great cause for frustration.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes, and I make a lot of mistakes, but I know that I’m making mistakes because I’m challenging myself and trying to come up with different solutions to the same problems. And as photography can be considered art, or science, or even a great mix of the two. The learning process never ends.
15 mistakes beginner photographers make the most
I will divide this article into 3 parts.
- Before the session
- During the session
- After the session
I will also post some tips and possible solutions to these mistakes that beginner photographers make.
Before the session
One thing that few care about is the photo planning process. This is true for any style of photography you produce.
If you are a portrait photographer, fashion, landscapes, architecture or wildlife you have to plan your photos.
If you are a wedding photographer, maybe the conversation will be different, because let’s be clear, you cannot always plan the photos before a ceremony that takes place “only” once in a lifetime. 😁
So the first mistake is not to plan your photos in advance. Forget the idea of taking your camera and just start shooting, if you think you will be taking zillions of good photos, you are mistaken.
Solution – Planning
Planning your photos is simple and easy, and the only thing you need to do is research.
Use places where you intend to go to photograph to see if it really is a good option, if possible do a field research before going to photograph. Searching these places, you will also have ideas of what kind of photo you can take, using the work of other photographers as a reference.
Of course, the idea here is not to copy the photos of others, but to have a good reference.
I also like to save some sample images that I can easily access after as good references, at this time you will give more value to Dropbox or Gdrive. Once you have a nice idea of where you can do your job, it’s time to plan your session. Search your newly acquired locations where other photographers took their photos to get a good idea of what can be done.
One thing that few people worry about is whether it is possible to photograph in a certain place without prior notice or scheduling, many places even prohibit taking any pictures at that location without scheduling, parks, public buildings and private buildings are a good example of this. Then also put in your planning a brief contact with those responsible for the location, if any, to find out if it is possible to photograph there or not.
Of course, we cannot leave the climate out of the planning, in which climatic conditions you want to take your photo shoot. In this case, there is nothing better than keeping an eye on the weather forecast for the date you would like to go.
If you want, you can also plan what equipment to take, cameras, flashes, lenses and more. Of course, this requires a little experience, or clear references, but nothing impossible.
If you are going to shoot with models it is clear that part of your planning job will be to find a model, makeup artist and maybe a lighting assistant. At that time that friend who doesn’t have much to do on the day can be a great lighting assistant, 😉.
Don’t forget that you may not have electrical outlets at your disposal in many locations, so don’t forget to charge all the batteries you are going to use. Also, don’t forget to have more than one memory card, Murphy’s law will get you by the ankle on the day of the session.
By following these steps you will definitely avoid walking for hours with your equipment on your back and not getting any pictures.
During the session
A lot of things can go wrong during a photo shoot, a lot even. It’s mainly if you don’t have, or don’t use, the right strategy. If you are a beginner photographer it can get out of hand quickly.
Know your camera
The first thing you should think about is your camera settings. They include, which lens to use, which focal length, aperture and ISO mainly.
But you, as a smart person, will sit down and find out where all the buttons and settings on your camera are, so when the time comes, you don’t want to be looking around to find where the button to adjust your camera ‘s shutter speed or exposure compensation is .
Don’t forget that during the adjustment process of your camera it also includes which file format you are going to photograph, RAW or JPEG.
And to be completely honest with you there are few reasons to take photos in Jpeg, one of them is if you are going to share these photos on the internet during the photo session, outside there is no valid argument for not shooting in RAW.
Equipment and accessories
Useful equipment is important, many beginner photographers make silly mistakes out of laziness. Don’t forget to make a list of what is useful for you to use on the day of the session, and whether it is useful to take it with you or not.
One of the things that many people find useless to take is a good tripod when photographing models. If your tripod doesn’t weigh a ton it can open a big door in some situations, better to have it on the side and not use it, then need it and not have.
Know your model
It doesn’t matter if you are photographing a landscape, an animal or a model, you need to know a little bit of it to photograph it. Take a few minutes to talk to the person being photographed, or to enjoy the landscape or animal and get iin tune with what will be photographed.
Especially when it comes to people, this interaction will make you more comfortable, as will your model. And all of this will be captured in the image you make. If you are taking wedding pictures the same rule applies, try to know how the couple met, what they like and try to add an element that represents this state of mind!
This is where many fail, and this is normal, but for you to prevent your work from stagnating in this regard the best tip is to take more pictures. When I say take a lot of pictures, I’m not talking at the time of the session, but during any time you’re shooting.
Composing an image requires also having a slightly sharper imagination, but there is always that moment that we catch. Always try to have some references on hand, as this helps you to sharpen your critical sense.
For those who are using Pinterest, put a lot of things on a photo references folder, which include composition, lighting and much more, you can see how I do this just follow this folder here!
Poses and angles
Posing for photos can be very easy for some is extremely complicated for others. And you as a photographer have an obligation to know a little about how to pose a model, but it is not your job to micro direct any and each movement of the model.
In addition to this, not only posing for photos, but also knowing which angles value most what you want to show in the photo, hence the conversation or observation we talked about earlier is valuable.
Even if you do well in all of the above, you can still ruin your job if you don’t choose how things will be shown on camera. That why is good to plan and study a little before your go for the session.
This is where we separate the photos taken from good and not necessarily good photographers. This is, at least I think, the deepest subject in photography and you will have to be willing to search for the light, no pun intended, all the time. And without knowing at least the basics of how light, or lighting, is difficult!
Having a basic knowledge of light is not at all difficult and using this knowledge is sure to take your photography to the next level! You may not have the best lens, the best camera, or whatever, the only things you will ever need is good lighting to make a good photo.
So look at the location that you chose and find the best possible lighting, if you can adapt the light that you have available to have more control over it go for it, do everything that you can to make your photos better. And especially do not forget that without light there is no photo.
See more about light in these articles here!
Ah. You thought it was just fun and no responsibilities, right? Go out just having fun and capturing great moments. Yes, I thought that too!!
However, there are some bureaucratic issues to deal with, since you are going to do a professional job.
The first of these protected not only the photographer but also the photographed, in the case of models, that form the right to use the image, or a model release form.
This is a kind of contract between the photographed and the photographer, where it is stated where and how the two parties can use the photos. If the session involves money, and it should, it is good to have a simple service contract that covers both parties legally.
Just imagine you took wonderful pictures and you can’t share the work on your social media or website because you haven’t talked about it with the model before.
Google to know more about the subject and law can change from country to country, and you certainly will need something like that.
The second is the Employment Contract. If you are going to photograph a wedding and you will be paid for it, put everything you will or will not provide in a contract signed and respected by both parties.
There is nothing worse than being charged for services after you agreed on a final price, or having to work more because you didn’t explain what was included in the package. Forget verbal contracts, put it on paper.
This also guarantees the client side that will know when they will receive the photos, how many photos they will be, what amount they will pay etc…
So always being prepared for this kind of problem is part of a photographer’s job. And often, beginner photographers forget this is part of the job.
As I always say; – If it is agreed upon, it’s not expensive!
Now, work is done. Oops… .just not .. Here you still have a lot of space to make mistakes and ruin everything you’ve done so far.
The post-production process of the photos is usually also done by the photographer, so you’ll have to get your hands dirty and finish the job bro!!
This part of the work includes a lot, from editing the photos to promoting the work. It is during all stages here that you can make crucial mistakes for the success of the job.
The first big mistake that beginner photographers will make is not being careful with the organization and archival of the photos. This can happen either due to a lack of knowledge or an excess desire to see the work ready.
But having a good organizational process helps you to deal better and faster. In this post I give some tips on how to keep your Lightroom catalog organized and fluid.
If you use another program to import your photos to your computer, find the best way to keep everything tidy so you don’t get lost.
Another point where many photographers sin, whether they are professionals or beginners, is in the backup strategy.
For me this is a part you shouldn’t forget. Losing years of work is not a good idea for anyone who is a professional of anything. There are stories out there of photographers who, due to not having a backup of the photos, lost all the wedding ceremony photographs of their clients. Can you imagine the bride’s face at this time 😤
Always have a strategy of at least 3 backup steps.
Two in your HDD and one with some online storage service. The two physical copies should be located in different places, in case of any accident. And please always backup the original RAW and not just Jpegs copies.
If you are serious in this business do not be fooled by RAID systems, they work as a storage system which can avoid corrupted files, but they are far from being backup systems, because you have just one copie in the end of the day.
And always remember that you are responsible for the photos of your clients.
Post production and editing
Near the end of the line of work that many beginner photographers make the most serious mistakes. People with little experience do not pay attention to the small details of photo editing, and as a beginner they do not want to invest to have professional editing software.
It is a mistake to think that buying, or signing, a license for editing programs is a waste of money. If you are going to take your photography work seriously, it is worth investing in professional editing programs.
The best known of them today is Adobe Lightroom, which is one of the softwares that I use. In this regard we have two kinds of apps, those for editing and those for organization. You can use Lightroom for both, that’s why I use it. But there are other great options like Capture One Pro for editing or Photo Mechanic for organizing, in addition to the famous Adobe Photoshop . One of my favorite softwares nowadays is Luminar, check this post to have a better look at it. Options abound in this area so choose the one that best suits your budget and needs.
Although excellent, you can’t count on Snapseed for the rest of your life!
Beginning photographers tend to overdo the edits, or even make the wrong concept choices.
Yes, this is all true, but there is nothing that cannot be changed or redone!
If you have a heavy hand in editing, always seek the opinion of a friend, or discussion forums to help you improve your photos. Be polite and accept the critiques, even if they are harsh.
Especially when it comes to HDR don’t overdo it!
And never try to “fix” a badly taken photo. It was shaky, out of focus, poor composed, trash it
Cut or not. That is the question
A lot of people say that you have to get the frame ready on the camera, and you cannot crop the photo later.
I don’t want to raise an argument here, but it’s BS!
Many beginner photographers forget the power of cropping, and how it can help with the composition of their images.
So don’t be shy, cut it. If it will result in a powerful image, better composed and will reflect your intention, crop the shi* of it. I think it’s worth it to go there and try. See more about it here.
Here we have a delicate subject, and you can choose which team to stay on. #logos or #nologos.
There are people who hate logos in photos just as there are people who put a logo even on the photo of the coffee they had in the morning like a dog peeing everywhere just to mark the terrain.
Like a painter, if you think your work is worth signing, go there and put a logo on it. A simple and discrete one. It will certainly help you to have a little more security against illegal copies and illegal printing of your work.
But if you do not think it is necessary, because the photo is more beautiful without a logo, there is also no problem. It still will be your photo, and if you have the RAW file you can always prove it.
I don’t do logos anymore, for me they can be disturbing and take the attention out of the photo. But for all means If you want to use it go for it, here’s a Lightroom video to help .
Tip: If you are going to put any logo try to use your own signature or lettering, it is much cooler than a font downloaded from the interwebs!
One of the most important things for a photographer of any level is a portfolio.
And many beginner photographers make the mistake of thinking that everything they produce is good for a portfolio.
For all the things you need to keep in mind, the first one is: don’t put too many pictures on your portfolio.
Beginners tend to want to showcase everything they are capable of producing and the result can be a huge and often non-standard portfolio, that has no face or style, and you don’t know what is the focus of that photographer.
The second is. Choose only your best work to be part of your portfolio. The key word is consistency, if you want to work with fashion photography there is no point in having a lot of nature photos in your portfolio.
Many beginners often use free tools to create their portfolios, for a brief moment this is cool but don’t forget to invest in your own website.
If or when Instagram , Flickr, 500px and Facebook ends, your portfolio will go with them if you don’t have a website. Chach this article here to have some valuable tips to build a professional portfolio.
Becoming a professional in anything is not an easy task, it involves attachment, dedication and being a bit down to earth person. In photography it seems to be even more difficult, because as we have an artistic part involved the ego can take care and make the success of the work go down the drain.
So don’t forget where you go wrong!
- Lack of planning
- Lack of knowledge about your camera
- Lack of accessories and other equipment
- Not knowing your model / subject
- Not knowing how to cover composition
- Not knowing about poses and angles
- Lack of knowledge of lighting
- Not paying attention to bureaucracies
- Being disorganized
- Not having a good backup strategy
- Do not use professional editing software
- Exaggerate editing
- Forget that you can crop
- Lack or excess of logos
- Fickle or huge portfolio
Well that’s all for today, I hope this article helps you with something! And if it helps, be nice and share it! Doing so you encourage me to write more!
And if you have any extra tips, leave them in the comments.