Back in the days of film, making a mistake could be a quite costly exercise. I can admit to more than my fair share of cockups, some as a hobbyist, some as a professional. Both cost me money. The beauty of digital is that making a photographic mistake tends to dent just your pride instead of your wallet.
Mistakes are good things, they bring us back down to Earth, make us realise we haven’t perfected, and indeed, will probably never perfect the art of photography. Even as a 30 plus year pro, I still make mistakes. The vital thing about making a mistake is to learn from it. Today we are going look at some of the mistakes you need to make in order to improve your photography.
Getting the Focus Wrong
Modern cameras have incredible but not infallible autofocus. One of the most common mistakes that newcomers to photography make is not to learn how the autofocus works. We tend to think we have a great shot and fire the shutter off. When we get home we often are disappointed to learn that focus has not been on our intended subjected. Even with the camera on a fully auto, area focus mode, it is relatively easy to get sharp focus. Make sure your main subject is in the
Even with the camera on a fully auto, area focus mode, it is relatively easy to get sharp focus. Make sure your main subject is in the center, half press the shutter button then recompose without releasing the shutter. When ready to shoot, fully press the shutter.
Leaving Distractions in Frame
This is another area where mistakes are common. You may have set your camera up to record a beautiful landscape or some stunning architecture. The light is perfect, the scene is perfect, you fire away. When you get home, however, the first thing that jumps out at you on your computer screen is not the beauty of the scene, but the bright red discarded coke can in the foreground. Yes, in some cases we can clone that out but avoiding distracting items when shooting is a good technique to learn and is one that can help develop your eye for a good photo.
Leaving the ISO on High
This is a mistake that any of us can make. Even pros can make it because it’s so easy to do. You finish shooting a low light event handheld. The ISO is set to 3200 and you pack your camera away for the night. The next shoot is a delicious dawn landscape. Tripod mounted the scene begs for low, clean ISO but you have forgotten that your ISO is still at 3200. There will be signs that something is not right, very high shutter speed or small aperture but you are unlikely to see the issue on the camera’s LCD. Have a mental checklist before every shoot helps you isolate the issue before you go.
Not Uploading/Formatting Memory Cards
This is another easy mistake to make and one you will most definitely learn from. You return home from a shoot. It’s late and you don’t feel like downloading the full memory cards to your camera. The next morning you head out for an early shoot and quickly run out of space on the card in the camera. At this point, you realise that that with the exception of a couple of GB on one card you have no space left and no way to download. Effectively the morning is ruined. As with high ISO having a pre-shoot mental checklist is a good policy.
Taking Too Many Shots
Another easy mistake to make, especially if the scene in front of us is spectacular.It'ss very easy to defocus the mind when shooting something great. We tend to fire away without pausing to consider how we could improve the shot. The end result is a hundreds of technically perfect yet compositionally similar images, only one or two of which are really worth keeping. If you are in front of a great scene, take a second or two to consider different options for capturing it. Move around, check foreground and background. Try different vantage points. You may take less images but there will be more keepers.
Thinking You Will Fix it in Photoshop
This is a dangerous path to take, especially if you are a relative newcomer to photography. You are effectively saying to yourself, I don’t need to learn anything new or strive to be better because I can fix everything in post-production. Photoshop is an incredible tool but it was designed to enhance photographs not fix them. Next time you consider, while shooting, fixing in Photoshop, take a step back, think about how you can make the shot better in camera then reshoot. You will learn so much more from getting it right in camera.
Mistakes are the cornerstones of our photographic education. Obviously, you cannot really force these mistakes upon yourself but if you have made any of the above, or others, and learned from it, then it was a mistake worth making.
What We Recommend to Improve Your Photography Fast
It's possible to get some pretty large improvements in your photography skills very fast be learning some fundamentals. Consider this the 80:20 rule of photography where 80% of the improvements will come from 20% of the learnable skills. Those fundamentals include camera craft, composition, understanding light and mastering post-production. Here are the premium guides we recommend.