Sign up to receive ACDSee newsletters featuring photography and creative work from the ACDSee community, software and photography tips, event listings and special offers available only to subscribers.
As with trying anything new, we tend to make newbie mistakes. On the plus side, we can learn from people who’ve already made these mistakes. Let’s go through some of the most common photography mistakes and how to fix them.
1. Centering Everything
A common mistake among new photographers is to center everything, horizontally and vertically. Centering the horizon line cuts the image in half, leaving the focus of the shot ambiguous to the viewer. Ideally, any image with a horizon line is one you’ll want to place on one of the third lines from the Rule of Thirds composition guides. The same rule applies to your subject vertically; avoid placing it dead center of your image. Don't get me wrong, there are certainly times where centering your subject works beautifully. The best thing to do is to take multiple shots and see which ones look the best.
2. Not Paying Attention to the Background
Sometimes new photographers get so focused on their subjects, they forget to take a step back and assess the entire scene. The last thing you want when taking a portrait is something sticking out of your subject’s head. A great way to bring focus to your subject if you have a busy background is to use a wide aperture or low f-stop.
3. Using the Same Viewpoint
When you’re first starting out, it’s very easy to get in the habit of taking photos from the same viewpoint, straight on, from eye level. Get down and shoot from your knees looking up or try getting up high and shooting down. Shoot wide or fill the frame. The key is to experiment. The more shots you take, the more you’ll see what works and what doesn’t, and create your own personal style.
4. Cutting Subjects Off
As new photographer, we can get tunnel vision when looking at our subjects. You can become so focused on their face or body position that you don’t notice when you’ve cut parts of the body out of the shot. This doesn’t just happen with portraits, but also architecture and landscapes as well, cutting off the top of a building or a mountain. It makes for an incomplete image.
Take the time to look at your subject and the surroundings, then decide what you want in the frame. If you do have to crop parts out of the frame, look for what will make the least amount of impact on the overall composition. Cutting someone’s feet just above the ankle looks like a mistake, however cutting out more, say two thirds of the legs, just below the knee, looks deliberate.
5. Blurry Images
Sometimes you think you have all your settings right but your image comes out blurry. This can be due to a number of reasons: not enough light hitting the sensor, camera movement, subject movement, or wrong focal point. Using a tripod, especially in low light conditions, will solve this issue. Additionally, increasing your ISO and shutter speed will help to resolve this issue as well.
6. Not Checking the Settings
It’s fairly common among new photographers to make camera adjustments while shooting, but then forget to adjust the settings on their next shoot. Unless you are diligently checking the LCD screen after every shot, you may not notice that your settings are off until you’re back home, editing your photos. It’s best practice to get into the routine of checking your settings before you start every shoot. Check what mode you have it in first: auto, manual, shutter priority, or aperture priority. And always check your ISO.
This may obvious, but it’s easy to forget to check your memory card as well. The last thing you want is to head out without one. It never hurts to bring an extra, and the same goes for batteries.
7. Relying on Your Camera to Take a Great Shot
Too often people make the mistake of thinking that buying the top-of-the-line camera means that all your photos will turn out beautifully. A camera is only as good as the person behind the lens. First you must learn how to use your camera, including the various settings and modes. Secondly, learn about composition. If you shoot with your camera on Auto, you’re missing out on so much—turning a good shot into a great shot. Once you learn the basics of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, you can experiment with depth of field and long exposures.
8. Too Much Editing
Post processing can save your photos, but used too much, it can also be their downfall. Making subtle adjustments, for example, to exposure, saturation, or vibrancy, can make a world of difference. However, it can be easy to get carried away and increase the saturation so much that you no longer have natural looking colors in your image. Unless this is a particular look you are going for, you want to make subtle changes by enhancing what is already there, making it look natural.