We have all been beginners at some point in time. Some of you must have just got your first camera, and being a beginner in photography, probably making some mistakes along the way. The best thing you can do is to identify the mistakes, so you can learn how to fix them, and avoid them in the future. That is the key to becoming a great photographer.
Even pros make some mistakes every now and then, but keeping them to a minimum is a good thing, to continue growing as a photographer. It is good for you and good for your client, thus it is good for business overall. Here are some common mistakes beginner photographers usually make, with tips on how to avoid them.
1. Blowing the Highlights
This is one of the most common mistakes. Blowing the highlights mean that the brightest areas of the picture are practically white. There is no detail to be recovered there (even in RAW). This can be avoided by looking at the histogram or “blinkies” after you take the shot. Most cameras have the option to add blinking overlay to the areas that are blown out. Make sure you look at your histogram after each important shot, and if you see that there are blown out areas, shoot again with lower exposure.
2. Not Using the ISO Properly
Shooting 6400 ISO in bright sun is practically throwing away details and getting more noise for nothing. Understanding how ISO works (Higher ISO number = More light and more noise) will help you avoid this mistake. Nobody wants unnecessary noise in the images, so set your ISO properly and avoid losing detail due to noise.
3. “I’ll fix this in post.”
No. Just no. Don’t rely on post. Fix everything possible before you take the image, avoid the issues left for post-processing since sometimes you think you can fix something, but it turns out you couldn’t and the image is rendered useless. Wasted time and effort. This applies for exposure and everything that happens in camera, as well. Expose right, set your scene properly, then use post-processing to fix little things if necessary, but don’t use “I’ll fix this in post” as an excuse for being lazy.
4. Overdoing Post-Processing
If you ask me, “instagramming” your pictures is the wrong way to go. You as a photographer should be way above that. Quality is what you need to present to the people, not hiding before oversaturated colors, vintage effects, unnecessary blur and all that everyday “Instagram stuff”. Especially when it comes to HDR (High Dynamic Range), making the picture look blotchy, with extremely saturated colors and everything looks like it is done while being on drugs is just plain wrong. HDR is a technique that allows for so many good things, and it is ruined by people who use it wrongly.
5. Creating Black and White Images the Wrong Way
While this might work in 1 of 10000 images, it is usually the wrong way to go. Everybody does black and white images, but few people understand how to use them and their purpose. Black and white isn’t just absence of color – black and white is more about making a point, removing the color as a distraction to get to the point and focus the attention to some key aspect of the photo you are making. Black and white photos should be done meticulously, executed perfectly or not done at all.
6. “It is not good but I’ll post it anyway.”
That is practically performing career suicide. People nowadays know how to “google” somebody and they will eventually see those bad photos, and most likely they will ultimately hurt the value of your photography. Nobody wants that, so only post what is good. It is not about the quantity, quality is what you need to aim for. Five quality photos are better than a million snapshots.
7. “I bought this DSLR last month, but I need a better one now.”
No, you don’t. I wrote an article on how to know when it is time to upgrade, but short periods aren’t the way to go, especially if you are just starting photography. You need to get to know your DSLR, know it like the back of your hand, and when the DSLR can’t do what you need it to do then it is time to upgrade. But if you aren’t experienced enough, you can buy $100,000 Hasselblad and still not be able to take the shot you want. No camera will be good enough if you don’t know how to use it.
8. Working for Free
Just don’t. Not only you are losing money, but you are devaluing photography in general – you are hurting the market. If there are people who are willing to work for free (or for recommendations, which is practically the same), nobody would like to pay for a photographer. And since nobody would pay for a photo, photographers won’t be motivated and able to continue to do what they do best and the whole photography industry will decline and eventually be nothing spectacular. The comic strip below sums up the general sentiment about free photography quite well.