There are certain photography mistakes and problems that commonly occur for new photographers as well as the more experienced. The good news is that many of these mistakes are easily corrected with a bit of know how.
In this age of internet and digital everything, tutorials and how to’s are available with a simple Google search and click of a button. How to get a better focus. How to find the light. How to shoot in low light. How to pose high school seniors. And so it goes.
But, what about the “no-no’s” and “don’ts” of photography? The I-wish-someone-would-have-told-me-about-this-earlier mistakes? We all make mistakes… beginning or seasoned photographer. It is how we learn and grow.
Making mistakes is part of any learning process and photography is certainly no different. In fact, the amount of information one needs to learn to become proficient in photography means there are probably a lot more mistakes we can make. There are however, a few mistakes that you can learn to avoid very quickly. But, what if we could side step some of the more common mistakes out there as we strive to make our way to photography greatness?
Mistake #1 – Assuming it can be “fixed” later in Photoshop
We would dare say this is one of the biggest mistakes made while shooting. Fixing photography mistakes in post processing that could have easily been done right in camera is a huge pain and time waster. Most importantly, remember that no amount of post processing can fix bad light.
The Fix – Before you start shooting, do a quick check for the basics… white balance, possible color casts, lighting, proper exposure, and distracting objects on subject or background. If you look at your images and find that you are unsatisfied, analyze the reason why (no light in eyes, red color cast to skin, etc), and find out how to fix it for next time. Realizing your mistakes and then working on them each time you shoot will give you the skills to become a better photographer. Don’t allow yourself to keep making the same mistakes over and over.
Mistake #2 – Keeping your camera in “auto” or “program” mode
When you constantly sit it auto mode, you are letting the camera survey the situation and decide what it thinks is best. Your expensive SLR camera has become a glorified point and shoot camera. Although it usually does a pretty good job of getting a proper exposure, you are missing out on the tools and settings your camera allows you to create your own vision.
The Fix – Start with a vision. How do you want your image or set of images to look? You want to focus on your baby in the foreground, but have your children in the background out of focus? Set your aperture to as wide as it will go (lower the number) and get close to your foreground subject. YOU decide how the image is going to look and adjust your settings.
Mistake #3 – Centering your subject in every frame
The Fix – Centering… and then not centering. A little of both gives you a big variety of images and ups your creativity. Center your subject. Beautiful. Then put your subject somewhere within the rule of thirds. Perfect. And then do neither and get creative in your composition. Fabulous.
Mistake #4 – Too Much Contrast
A photograph with too much contrast has a strong difference between light (highlight) and darker (shadow) areas of the image. This is very apparent in photographs taken on a sunny day.
The Fix – Use flash to fill in the dark shadowy areas of the image and try underexposing the image by one or two stops to see the difference it makes.
Mistake #5 – Not thinking about the direction of the light
The direction of the light and how it is illuminating your subject, whether it’s the natural light of the sun, incandescent lighting indoors or at night or flashlight, can make or break a photograph. That’s why it’s vital to observe the light. If you are aware that it’s striking your subject in the wrong place – for example, if the facade of a beautiful monument is in shade, or if someone’s hat is casting a shadow over half their face – then you can take action.
The Fix – Either move the subject, move yourself or, if the subject isn’t going to disappear, wait a while or return at the appropriate time of day. Once you’re in the habit of considering how the light is falling on your subject you can select a viewpoint and time of day so that the light enhances your subject, rather than detracts from it.
Mistake #6 – Too Much Noise
Digital noise is analogous to grain on a film photograph, those unsightly little speckles on your image. The higher the ISO the more noise will appear, and the more you enlarge the image the more you can see noise. Night time images are prone to noise as the camera struggles to record detail.
The Fix – To reduce noise, use the largest image quality setting and always use a tripod so that you can choose the lowest ISO setting without causing blur.
Mistake #7 – Showing up to a shoot without backups.
The Fix – Backups are important for every shoot, but MANDATORY for weddings. If you are already shooting or thinking about shooting weddings, don’t show up to the wedding without backups of camera, flash, camera battery, double AA batteries, and memory cards. If you don’t have backups of these things, consider purchasing, borrowing, or renting them.
As we said before, we all make mistakes. But at least you can now avoid the most common ones by using the above tips.