Mistakes you keep making – Learn how to take the best photographs

It doesn’t matter if you’re an amateur or professional photographer, you’ve probably made one of the most common photography mistakes. There are many photography resources for beginners, but this isn’t just one of the photography for beginners’ guides. We want to point out the most common photography mistakes and tell you how to avoid them by understanding camera focus and white balance, as well as composition, orientation, background, and angle of shooting, among others.

Is having a great camera enough?

No, it is not. People usually buy a great and expensive camera, thinking it will do the job for them because professional photographers make it look easy. But the assumption that if you have a good camera, you will automatically take amazing photos is wrong. Just because you have a great camera, doesn’t mean you don’t need to learn photography. It takes a lot of knowledge to make a good photo, and most of the times you can do it without having an expensive camera.

Centring everything in your images

Placing objects or lines in the middle of the image is one of the most common mistakes every photographer has made at one point. There are cases when it is a good thing to do, but it’s not always like that. Cutting the image in half makes people unsure of which half to look at, which means they may not find the subject of the photo.

When taking photos of landscapes, or anything that has a horizon line, you need to follow the Rule of Third and put the horizon on one of the third lines. If you are photographing a person, put them to one side of the image, on one of the vertical third lines.

The composition is the core of a good and compelling photograph. If you don’t plan your composition, even the most interesting things will look ordinary or even boring if you don’t position the elements of your photo.


Not including people in landscape photos

Instead of taking a clean landscape, why not include the person as well? By putting a human figure in a landscape, the image can become about that person’s relationship with their surroundings. A figure with the landscape could add a bit of story to your photo.

Taking attention away from the main focus

Including certain things that can take the focus away from the main element in the photo happens more often then we would like to admit. Bushes, light posts, trees, and other related things can take the focus off. In order to avoid that, you should carefully plan and check your composition. Take the time and look at what you’re photographing.


Cutting things off at the edge of the frame

Most of the times we don’t even realize that we cut off something without even noticing it. How many times have you heard “Why did you cut off the feet?” without noticing it before the question?

It’s not just feet. This can happen with architecture and landscapes as well. Most beginners cut off the tip of a church dome or the top of a tree. This can easily be fixed with a bit more concentration. Just look at the subject and try to fit everything into the frame.


Forgetting to check the settings you used the last time

Each shot has to have different settings, but what happens when we use the same setting for two completely different subjects? How many times have you made adjustments on your camera for what you were shooting at the time, and forgot to look at what you set up for the next shoot? And when you found out, it was already late to retake the shoots.


Not giving the camera enough time

Pressing the shutter continuously without giving the camera time to focus properly is one of the most common mistakes for beginners. You have to give your camera time to focus. Cameras are fast, but they still need time to properly focus on the image they are seeing through the lens. And the same goes for exposure. You have to give it time to get proper exposure. Don’t be pushy, just give your camera time and let it focus on what it sees.


Never turning the camera vertically

Photographers are reluctant to turn their cameras vertically. It’s always horizontal.  However, turning a camera to the side can give you a fresh new angle to look at.

It’s not an obligatory thing to do, but some subjects can benefit from this orientation. Try turning the camera to the portrait or vertical mode, and see if you can get a better image.


Shooting landscapes only in horizontal format

There’s no doubt that landscapes benefit from shoots done in horizontal format, but have you tried turning your camera to the side? If you switch things up and try shooting landscapes in a vertical orientation. With a vertical shot, you will be able to incorporate much more sky and foreground into the shot. For sunsets and sunrises, you could include interesting elements from the sky or land.


Paying no attention to the background

Each element of your photo should be there for a reason. However, if you have a stray table or fire hydrant in your shot, your image will look mediocre. Before taking your shot, you need to examine everything that is in the shot and see what should or shouldn’t be there.

If there is some clutter, you can move a bit or zoom the lens in to exclude undesirable elements. And make sure there aren’t any clashing colours unless it is intentional. For portraits, make sure that the background is a canvas or your subject, without any elements don’t take the focus away.

Yes, a lot of the errors can be cleaned up and fixed in post-editing, but it’s always better to get it right when taking the shot in real-time.

Not adjusting your shooting angle

Taking photos at your eye level can be boring sometimes. Experiment a little, vary your eye, get high or low. You can even climb something or get down on the floor. Try different angles that can spice up your shot.


There is no worse situation than putting the images on your computer just to find that a lot of the photos didn’t turn out well because the camera settings were wrong for that subject or situation. Make sure to always check all of your settings every time you want to take a shot.


Forgetting about white balance

When was the last time you checked your white balance before a shot? Not all light sources will produce white light. Sure, some light bulbs do, but most bulbs give off orange or blue light. Changing the white balance setting is how you tell your camera that the colour temperature of the room isn’t exactly white, and the camera adjusts the balance of colours and makes white actually appear as white.


Not cleaning your gear

If you don’t clean your camera lenses or any other gear you might have, your great shot could end up having dust specks and smudges all over it. Besides, you need to keep your gear in good working order if you want it to last.


Not using a tripod

Speaking of equipment, wouldn’t it be better if your images aren’t blurry? Even though there are many ways of avoiding camera shake, the easiest one for beginner photographers is to use a tripod. A tripod will give your camera the stable base it needs to get the sharp results you want.


Only taking posed portraits

There are a time and a place to take posed portraits, but candid portraits are more genuine and interesting. Try taking more candid photos with more life and vitality, and save the posing for weddings and other events. Or maybe even try them then?


Blurry photos

Blurry photos happen to everyone, both amateurs and professionals. Why? Usually, it’s because of the shutter speed. By adjusting the shutter speed so it has a denominator that’s faster than your focal length, you will be able to get better photos. For moving subjects, eliminating the blur is a bit harder. But, if you set your camera to action mode, or manually increase your shutter speed, it could help minimize the blur.


Relying on post-processing

Post-processing software has been a helpful invention, but we’ve started relying on it too much which makes us less concerned about getting it right while shooting. It’s much better if we get everything right on the spot, and remove the need for editing. All you have to do is check your settings, by taking a test photo to check the composition, lighting, exposure, and white balance.


Always shooting in JPEG

Even though there is no rule about shooting in RAW, there’s a good reason why you should. When you shoot in JPEG, your camera automatically applies its presets for sharpening, white balance, contrast, and saturation. It also compresses your image into a smaller file, while RAW preserves more image data and even lets more detail o be recovered from shadows and highlights. Yes, the file size is larger, but it will save you time on post-editing. You can always buy a bigger memory card.



What are the mistakes you keep making while shooting?

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