When you click on a link or purchase something from a link within this article, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Check out our Affiliate Policy for more information
Every beginner will make mistakes! Whether this is by being overwhelmed by all the camera controls, not knowing where to start or feeling burnt out, I will break down the problems that every beginner makes and explain to you how to fix them and target the root cause of the problem.
Here are the 9 beginner photography mistakes new photographers make!
- Mistake #1: Shooting from the same angle all the time
- Mistake #2: Not using a Tripod in Low-Light Situations
- Mistake #3: Your Horizon line is not straight
- Mistake #4: You do not invest enough time into post-production
- Mistake #5: Lacking focus and trying to be a jack-of-all-trades
- Mistake #6: Capturing and not living
- Mistake #7: Slapping Watermarks all over your pictures
- Mistake #8: Not shooting your photos in RAW
- Mistake #9: Leaving your Camera on full auto
- What other mistakes have we missed out?
Mistake #1: Shooting from the same angle all the time
So you come back from a photoshoot after snapping some photos. You view them on your computer and they all look rather similar. You then notice they are all taken from the same height and you shot everything at eye-level!
Shooting from the same angle all of the time is boring and your photos will look less attractive because:
- Thousands of photographers before you will have shot the same subject at the same angle and height and it will become boring to the viewer because they know what to expect
- We experience most of life viewing from this angle and when professional photographers shoot pictures, they look for angles nobody else has captured the subject from, to give us an escape from the boring experiences we have viewing things from eye level and to show us life from a different angle we have never seen before
Shooting from alternative angles is essential to shooting great pictures and once you nail this, you will be well on your way to consistently shooting excellent photos that look just like the ones the pros shoot!
Of all the beginner photography mistakes you can make, this one one of the most common yet it is one of the easiest to rectify!
All you need to do now is simple: SHOOT FROM DIFFERENT ANGLES
It really is that simple! Next time you take some photos, try crouching on the ground and shoot upwards towards your subjects to give them depth or try shooting an image from above and make the scene look flatter.
These are little things you can incorporate over time into your photography workflow over time.
After a while, shooting from different angles will become second nature to you and you’ll be able to master this no problem!
Mistake #2: Not using a Tripod in Low-Light Situations
Tripods are a controversial part of your photography setup! On the one hand, they are bulky, hard to operate and take up unnecessary space while on the other hand they are great for landscape shots, long exposure shots and stabilising your camera, particularly in low-light conditions!
While we can debate on whether they are any useful to use during daylight conditions, one thing most of us can agree on is that they are almost essential when trying to shoot either at night or in low-light conditions!
If you attempt to shoot in low-light scenarios without a tripod, you will have to speed up your shutter speed, which will result in your ISO being bumped up and this will lead to grainy images which are unusable and very difficult to edit in Photoshop or Lightroom.
You see, one setting or one section of your workflow being done incorrectly can lead to a knock-on effect.
A tripod gives you added stability which a shaky hand lacks and allows you to take tack-sharp images at night as it removes all shake or motion from your camera when taking the shot.
This added stability also comes in helpful with telephoto lenses, where minute movements can completely ruin your composition.
Next time you shoot at night, try bringing a tripod and set your camera up on it so that any shake is removed and then you can increase your shutter speed and reduce the ISO so you do not end up with grainy pictures.
This is another simple fix to drastically improve your images, particularly if you enjoy shooting at night!
Once you start implementing this tip, you will never shoot a blurry night image again!
Mistake #3: Your Horizon line is not straight
This is another mistake that can be fixed in 2 very simple ways:
- Taking a few extra seconds before you shoot to make sure your camera is shooting the horizon line as straight as possible
- Going into Photoshop or Lightroom and using the crop tool to straighten out your horizon line after taking your image
I would personally shoot as straight as possible before editing so that it both saves you time and keeps the image resolution as high as possible as cropping in to straighten the horizon will result in a lower quality picture and lost pixels which can result in parts of your images being cut out of the frame.
Take a look on Instagram for a few minutes and you’ll notice something similar between most of the images that you consider to look ‘amateur’.
Lots of these images have wonky horizon lines! This is such a simple mistake yet so many people do not realise how important it is to have a straight horizon line.
Once you start mastering this, you’ll be well ahead of lots of other photographers and doing this consistently will serve you very well throughout all of your photoshoots.
Mistake #4: You do not invest enough time into post-production
This is one of the easiest beginner photography mistakes to make! Many beginner photographers make this mistake and just assume that once you have shot your photo, you can immediately start sending to friends and family and start uploading it to social media!
And that’s not to say you can because if all your doing is snapping some casual pics of family outings or your pets, then that’s fine!
This is one of those beginner photography mistakes that doesn’t need immediate attention unlike some of the other mistakes mentioned on the list.
But as soon as you nail the basics when shooting your photos, you should really consider investing in both a subscription to Lightroom and Photoshop and some courses teaching you how to master the features. Some pros to editing your photos through these different software packages include:
- Allowing you to get a certain ‘Look and Feel’
- Create a theme/aesthetic for your Instagram page
- More creative freedom
- Allows you to manipulate your images to create special effects like double exposure or removing imperfections from your photos
- Fine-Tuning RAW shots
The other good thing about editing software is that most companies do not charge you exorbitant prices for it, either.
A monthly subscription to Lightroom and Photoshop combined costs anywhere between £10-£22 a month depending on where in the world you live and this subscription typically includes some cloud storage to back your photos with, too.
And as for learning how to use Lightroom and Photoshop, there are many paid courses and free Youtube videos online teaching you how to do this and some videos teach you exactly how to achieve a certain look or aesthetic!
Mistake #5: Lacking focus and trying to be a jack-of-all-trades
This is another one of those beginner photography mistakes that can be caused by being overwhelmed. When browsing social media, particularly Instagram, you are exposed to a range of creative stimuli on a daily basis and as such it is easy to get distracted.
When starting out as a beginner in photography it is best to focus on one type of photography before you get the hang of it and move onto another type!
In a world where we are exposed to many different types of art and photography on social media it is important to remember where YOU fit in and what photography YOU would like to take.
In order to fix this mistake, I suggest you write down some ideas on what kind of photography you would like to take.
Are you into portrait photography? Do you like to take pictures at night? Or do you prefer taking pictures of buildings?
Try and stick to one or two categories of photography (like the ones above) and once you have spent a considerable amount of time understanding how to take these pictures and what settings must be used, move onto another type of photography and stick at it until you have learned the basics and are confident in being able to take those kind of photos.
Mistake #6: Capturing and not living
When starting out in photography you are probably eager to shoot as many photos as you can within a short time span.
But if you are not careful you can become too caught up into capturing the moment and then that results in you not always enjoying the moment you are capturing.
And remember: While it can be a headache sometimes, Photography is supposed to be fun!
If you find you are getting too wound up in capturing the moment and you find you are struggling to get the shots you want, take a step back and lay off the camera for a few minutes.
Always give yourself time to enjoy what you are experiencing and don’t just look at the world around you through your viewfinder.
By doing this you may even end up seeing different angles which in turn gives you new ideas as to which angles to shoot from. Giving yourself small breaks stops you from getting burnt out and gives your mind a rest so you can explore your surroundings and take in everything around you!
Mistake #7: Slapping Watermarks all over your pictures
Many beginner photographers put large, unsightly watermarks all over their images and as such, it can drastically reduce the image quality and aesthetic!
Just placing a large watermark over your photos does not make you a pro photographer!
Remember that a watermark can ruin your photo in many different ways:
- The Watermark covers many key areas of the photo and it can even ruin the composition
- Watermarks can ruin the quality of your photo and as such you may have less likes on social media or less clients
I would personally recommend not using any watermarks, particularly on social media as the photo is already compressed so that if someone were to print out or enlarge your photo, it would look terrible!
But if you do have to use a watermark, try and keep it as small and unobtrusive as possible and ensure that it does not cover the composition of your photo or any key aspects of your photo, either!
Mistake #8: Not shooting your photos in RAW
For those of you who don’t know, your DSLR camera and some phones shoot images in 2 different file formats:
- JPEG: This is a compressed file format that already makes minor adjustments to your photos from straight out the camera, but because of the compression you are limited in terms of editing in Lightroom or Photoshop. You are also unable to edit the white balance
- RAW: This format literally stores all of the light the sensor captures and does no editing or adjustments at all. You then have complete flexibility and can edit parts of the photo like White balance in Lightroom or Photoshop
JPEG is ideal if all you want to do is take some quick snaps of family members or pets and some fun photos!
But if you want to take your photography up a notch and play around with editing the images, then your best bet is RAW!
Thankfully this mistake is easily solvable as all you have to do is go into your camera settings and change the shooting format from JPEG to RAW and you’re all sorted!
The only issue is that the image will look considerably flatter and less saturated than a JPEG but this is because the camera is trying to save as much of the light data as possible so you have the best chance at editing your photo without any grain or noise creeping into your shot!
So next time you go on a photoshoot try saving your images in raw and play around with the settings! You will definitely have more options to play around with in terms of editing and your photos may look much better than you expected!
Mistake #9: Leaving your Camera on full auto
Auto mode is where you give up all control over your settings and leave your camera to decide everything for you.
This can potentially lead to a disaster or a photo that is unusable because the exposure is set incorrectly.
Your camera knows how to expose itself pretty well and how to get the best focus and sharpness for maximum details, in most cases.
But what it doesn’t know is what you are shooting. It cannot tell if you are shooting a fast-moving car, a still object such as a building or anything in between.
This will result in your camera choosing settings that are not optimal for the subject that is being shot. For example, it may choose a slow shutter speed for a moving car and this will result in a blurry shot or it may bump up the ISO too much in a night photo which will result in a grainy picture.
This is why it is important you stay on at least a semi-auto mode like aperture priority or you switch to full manual.
Switching to these shooting modes gives you control over your camera and now you have that control you can change settings such as the ISO or the Shutter speed and ensure that your camera will not take a blurry photo or a grainy photo.
What other mistakes have we missed out?
Have we missed anything off this list? What else should we have included? What are you thoughts on this post? Leave your ideas in the comments below.