Stop Making These 5 Photography Mistakes

It never ceases to amaze me the number of fuzzy, low resolution, badly exposed and poorly composed photographs that people take. Whether they’ve all been brainwashed to click that button as fast as possible or are just finding the reality that few subjects sit still, too many people forget that the camera is a tool for them to capture their life’s moments. This article explores five mistakes that every photographer can avoid.

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photo captured by m01229 (Click image to see more from m01229)

1. Low resolution

Wanting to squeeze every last bit of space you can on a memory card, you select to take photos at a lower resolution. Great if all you ever want is to email them or post them on Facebook. But what if you may want to print one out, frame one, or even use them in a book? Setting your camera to capture photos at the highest resolution possible gives you maximum flexibility. You’ll be able to crop and print with confidence, enlarge within reason, make slideshows, and even shrink to email. Memory sticks are an inexpensive investment for maximum flexibility.

2. One photo at a time

This is likely a carry-over from the old film days where you only had 36 frames available. Now you can snap away to your heart’s content; you even have a special function for it called continuous shutter. Not only will that increase your chances of getting one sharp photo, you may even get one with their eyes open, a lovely smile, a funny look, an inspired moment, etc.

3. Fear of deleting

Oh dear. We’ve all done it. Kept a bunch of ‘well, maybe I’ll use that one day’ photos. Really, unless it’s the ONLY image of a special event/person that you have, delete the blurry, out of focus, badly composed, uninspired, dull, etc. photos as you go along. Be brutal, otherwise they’ll pile up on you faster than you can imagine and make sorting and organizing a nightmare. Related to this mistake is the mistake of is not uploading the photographs onto a computer. It’s very difficult to properly assess the quality of an image on that tiny screen. So please, upload them frequently (and delete the bad ones).

4. Lack of practice

Ahhhh, the little green auto setting. Why do people assume that this will result in the best shot? While in many cases the results are good, a little extra work can take an OK picture to a really good—if not excellent—one. Read your manual, take an online course, practice. Find out what results you get in which conditions so you know how to best correct / take advantage. Don’t be frightened of your camera — it’s job is to capture your memories.

5. Dodgy composition

You may not be able to do anything about grandma’s floral sofa, the artwork on the wall, or the dishes on the table, but you can certainly move people to other places so that they star in the image rather than compete with the environment. Having people just sit closer together, having them sit on the floor, shifting distracting objects, adding/removing some lighting, etc. are only a few ways to quickly declutter photographs. Extra tip for group photos: have everyone keep their eyes shut until you say open, then snap.

So here’s how to avoid these mistakes. First, set your camera to high resolution and on continuous shooting mode. Then go out and buy another memory card. Next, delete any bad photos you already have (from your computer and camera). Take your camera out and practice—on anything and anyone—to see how different lighting and settings impact your results. Finally, think twice when you snap a ‘memory’ shot. A few extra moments before you click the shutter may make the world of difference to the emotion you’ll feel when you see the result.

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6 Comments

  1. Pat says:

    I partly don’t agree with #3… “3. Fear of deleting.”… I agree that not every picture will be a keeper, but stall on the desire to delete in the field… Sometimes looking at all of your pictures back in your studio out of the “Heat of the shoot”, you realize that a shot that looked bad in the field, takes on a whole different / better perspective in the studio.

  2. KG2V says:

    I NEVER delete in the field, and generally just mark “rejected” for most shots in Lightroom. Storage is cheap, and I can learn lessons from those photos where I messed up. Deleting in the field means spending time chimping. Memory cards are cheap, time at a shoot is precious

  3. Alex says:

    Some good points, but i agree with the above comments, just wait to delete. if your in a real pinch and need some space then you should, but otherwise wait till you see the shot on a larger screen. You may learn something from it or find a unique shot

  4. Jonny says:

    I also disagree with #2, pray and spray is not the answer. Take your time, compose a good photograph…then click the shutter. You’ll defintely have less to delete ;-)

  5. Martin says:

    I also disagree with #2, “increase your chances of getting one sharp photo”, I think before you trip the shutter you should learn how to focus the lens.

  6. Ravindra Kathale says:

    This is in reply to Jonny and Martin,
    The tip is not intended to make a sloppy or careless photographer. The idea is to do the pre-shutter work carefully, and then to take advantage of the multi-shot facility to ensure you get a good output. It’s a kind of an insurance. Since anything can happen while taking a photograph, it pays to take more than one. Recall that in olden times the photographer would take 2 or three snaps of even a group photograph. I have found this facility very useful while photographing children and in street and candid photography.
    Thanks for a very useful article.

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