When it comes to photography, individual photographers have their “tried and true” techniques or rules on which they rely, but there are many standard rules that should be adhered to by all photographers. Not knowing these rules or techniques can result in mistakes, many times without the photographer’s knowledge. And though some of these mistakes can be fixed post-production, it is easier to do things correctly the first time. Here are some common photography mistakes that you may not know about now—but will never make again.
- Shooting in JPEG – JPEG (JPG) is a type of format for compressing image files and is the most commonly used format for digital images or digital photography. The issue presented by this format is a loss of quality, which can result in issues during post-production. This is why most photographers opt to shoot in RAW format, an unprocessed format also known as a digital negative. RAW format allows for the highest quality files and ease in correcting an image without sacrificing quality. The slight downside is that it takes up more memory and can potentially slow down the camera. But when you’re finally ready to print out photos or display them on an electronic picture frame, they will be sure to “wow.”
- Off-Colors – Sometimes the colors in the photograph are not true to life. This problem generally occurs when natural lighting is not used (such as indoor photography) and/or not adjusted on the camera settings. Off coloring can make the subject too warm (yellow) or too cool (blue) or over/undersaturation. While some of these issues can be edited post-production, it is best to avoid it by making appropriate adjustments when taking photos. Solutions include changing the settings on the camera or attempting to mimic natural lighting through tools like photo reflectors.
- Not Understanding the Location – An easy mistake prior to a photoshoot is not surveying the location, that's why we encourage you to get spontaneous with your photos. Whether shooting at a national park or in a posh hotel, understanding the area of the shoot can be of great benefit. Not only does it save time when looking for the next shot, but it allows the photographer to understand all available props or background settings for a photo. Take time to walk the entire area—you may find something that will make for your ideal shot!
- Poor Exposure – Exposure is the amount of light that reaches a camera’s image sensor. The amount of light is adjusted through the camera settings—aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity—and the lighting naturally presented. An underexposed photo can be too dark, meaning that not enough light was captured during the shot. On the opposite end, an overexposed photo is too bright, with too much light being captured during the shot. Correct exposure will have balanced shadows and highlights—nothing too bright, nothing too dark. By understanding aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity settings of the camera, photographers can prevent over/underexposing their photos. MasterClass offers great photography classes.
- Over-Relying on Expensive Equipment – More expensive equipment can often provide more to a photographer than low-cost, mediocre equipment. Expensive equipment is built to higher standards, utilizing better material and technology to provide faster speeds and higher quality. While a more expensive lens can do great work, it can’t do the work. An expensive lens can be ineffective in the hands of someone who does not know how to correctly utilize it. A photographer who understands not just the principles of photography but the equipment as well can take better photos using a standard point-and-shoot versus an inexperienced individual utilizing an expensive DSLR.
- Forgetting Composition – Poor photo composition will result in boring, uninspired photographs. Rules of third, arrangement, contrast, perspective, and balance are just some elements of composition that cannot be ignored when taking a photo. While not all composition elements will be used in a single photograph, it is important to use a combination to produce beautiful images. To correct this issue, a photographer must study and understand all elements of composition that are available to utilize. Certain elements are more appropriate for different situations, and it is crucial that a photographer knows all the options available in her arsenal.
- Not Taking Time to Practice – The saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”, and this saying is especially true in photography. Photographers do not count their shoots (especially paid ones) as additional practice. To truly capture the best photos possible, photographers will take time to improve their craft. Options include offering free photo sessions in a variety of locations during different times of the day or night. Taking nature photos, such as landscapes or close-ups, allows a photographer to learn how to appropriately adjust their camera. Reading expert photography blogs to learn tips and tricks will go a long way, too.
- Misunderstanding Flash – Some photographers never use flash, maintaining that it ruins photos. But when used properly, it can make for a great shot. Flash often results in poor photographs because the photographer does not understand how to appropriately use it. Ambient (natural or artificial) lighting and flash can be combined in certain settings for a stunning photo. Flash is not always necessary, but photographers should take time to experiment, whether during a shoot or during practice. Knowing what scenes can utilize flash—and when it is inappropriate—gives a photographer another tool to utilize. Looking up sample photos with detailed explanations of what settings were used to achieve the look can teach a photographer what settings can be used in certain situations.
- Incorrectly Holding the Camera – Some photographers may be incorrectly holding the camera without realizing it. Improper forms can result in blurry pictures, even if all the settings are appropriate for the time and location. There are several videos and infographics that will teach proper form, but the basics are:
- Vertical orientation: Support the camera’s base/lens with a hand, using the support of the elbow
- Horizontal orientation: Elbows tucked into body, viewfinder against eyebrow, supporting the base/lens
- Maintain good contact points
- Legs apart to maintain balance
- Control breathing, breathing out when taking the shot
Learning to correctly hold the camera will result in better shots overall.
- Acting as Your Strongest Advocate – While it is important for a photographer to believe in his talent, it is also important that they stay realistic. Instead of talking about how great he is a photographer should let his work do the talking. Photographers should be their strongest critics, looking at their work with objective eyes. By doing so, they are encouraging themselves to get better and prevent making the same mistakes. The photographer will then begin to develop their own style, which will show in their work. The process should occur after every shoot: What went wrong, what went right, and how can this be amended or replicated?
Photography is a form of art for which many create their own rules, deciding what works well for them and their unique style. But there are proven techniques that can help a photographer prevent ruining an otherwise beautiful shot. For novice photographers, it is important to learn the fundamentals of photography and correct such mistakes before experimenting with their own style.
Hannah Nava loves writing about any topic, and Photography is no exception! She currently writes on behalf of Nixplay, creator of the Nixplay Seed. When not marrying words, Hannah enjoys reading science fiction, fantasy, and dystopian works; sipping margaritas (always frozen); and trying to make the world a happier place. Tweet her @hannahmnava or connect with her on LinkedIn. .