7 Professional Photography Tips To Avoid Simple Shooting Mistakes

By Jason Row / October 18, 2016

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The Last Thing You Want To Do Is Risk Your Next Photography Shoot – So Here Are Some Professional Photography Tips, So That You Don't

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The best-laid plans of mice and men as the old saying goes. You can spend all your time planning an intricate shoot only to find you have slipped up (big time) by missing out on the simple little details.

It's very easy when planning a big shoot to think you have covered all bases. However, often the constant thinking about the bigger picture leads you into a sense of false security to the point you neglect the day to day basics.

Today we're going to look at some simple mistakes that could potentially ruin your shoot (ouch!). Some are in the preparation, and some are in the shooting itself. Here's my professional photography tips from 1 thru 7.

1. The Basics: Charge Your Camera's Batteries

It sounds obvious but it’s one of those things that can so easily be overlooked. Many of you will have more than one battery so even if the first one is charged, the others might not be.

Top Tip!

One thing you can do here is to use two separate compartments of your camera bag. Use one side for charged batteries and one for depleted batteries. You can adopt a similar system at your computer at home keeping charged separate from uncharged.





Don't forget to charge all the batteries you will need. By See-ming Lee

2. Download Your Memory Cards – You'll Kick Yourself If You Don't

Another of my professional photography tips refers to the very common mistake (and one that can lead to a lot of agonizing thought) is not uploading your memory cards.

It's easy to do especially on shoots over multiple days. You return home after an exhausting day in the field and you are too tired to get to the computer to upload.

The next day back in the field, you realize you have several full cards and none spare. You also have nowhere to upload them. It's an excruciating feeling and one that can be solved simply by uploading after every shoot.

My advice: carry some backup cards in reserve, just in case.

professional photography tips

Upload those cards as soon as you get home. By WDnet Studio

Further Learning Material

Ok, so you're back from your well-organized shoot and ready to offload some of those images from your memory cards (see point no.2, right above).
Now you'll want to get these awesome shots into your post processing software, right?
This guide by Photzy on “Understanding Post Processing” will see that you're doing it all right.

3. Cleaning Your Lenses (And Other Equipment) – Get Your Gear In Shape!

It's very easy to forget to clean lenses and sensors and these can cause major issues when somewhere down the line. A smudge on the lens can reduce contrast and cause lens flare when shooting towards the light.

Because of your camera’s relatively small LCD, this can be difficult to see when reviewing. Sensor dust is not such a huge issue these days do to self cleaning sensors. Stubborn dust however, can be an issue and cleaning a sensor in the field can be a tricky proposition.

Probably needs a bit of a clean before the next shoot. By Mark Tighe

What We Just Learned:

Those were some of the very simple snippets of planning advice that should become routine, if possible. By following those professional photography tips, I assure you, your life will become easier as a photographer! Trust me on this one.

Ok, let’s now take a look at some errors that can easily be made in the field…

4. Setting The Wrong ISO Before You Start Shooting

This is so easily done. You might have been shooting hand held in low light the night before and set the ISO to 1600. The following day in bright light you are still shooting at 1600.

Whilst the trained eye should notice the high shutter speeds or small apertures, it's easy to get distracted by our subjects themselves.

Another common mistake is to leave ISO on Auto. This is a particular problem when shooting low light on a tripod where the camera tries to maintain a hand held shutter speed by increasing the ISO.

Top Tip!

Make it easy on yourselves, when you're selecting your aperture (probably one of the first things you'll like alter) make a habit of altering your ISO…even if you glanced and “think” you know what it is set at.

5. Setting The Wrong Autofocus Mode On Your Camera

Tip #5 is about the focusing system on your camera.

Its very easy to leave the autofocus set to an area mode and not notice this. The images may appear sharp on your LCD but when you get home you find that the real subject of the shot is not 100% sharp. For most critical focusing, selecting a single point autofocus mode is the best option, allowing you to concentrate the focus directly on your subject.

One of my professional photography tips here would be selecting a single point autofocus mode. This allows you to concentrate the focus directly on your subject.

Don't lose your focus on autofocus modes. By Nicolas Henderson

6. Resetting Exposure Compensation – Tick It Off Your Checklist With ISO!

Another often made error is to not reset the exposure compensation dial after use. Big mistake.

If you have compensated a lot, (+1 stop or more), you will probably notice when chimping however, smaller amounts might not be so obvious. What might seem a good exposure could have clipped highlights or dark shadows, leading to excess noise.

Top Tip!

Other than actually going through the motions of resetting your exposure compensation, ensure you're checking your histogram every now and then. What's happening at the edges? Are you doing what you can to reduce highlight clipping and shadow presence?

7. Neglecting Filters

Last on my list of photography tips, don't just leave them sunken in your bag of gear.

Filters can be a pain in the proverbial, especially the screw in type. It's easy to dismiss using a filter in certain conditions because of the time it will take to set up.

By neglecting filters, we may miss out getting the best shots that can be achieved? If in doubt, reach for them, take some sample shots – just a few, then make the assessment on whether of not they are going to have a positive impact on your photographs.

Summary

By making you aware of the above simple mistakes and tips we can ensure we don't have any disastrous moments. To avoid mistakes before a shoot train yourself in the art of creating a routine. Yep, there's an art to it.

AT HOME/THE STUDIO – Beforehand

  • Upload images from cards and put batteries on charge as soon as you return.
  • Whilst this is happening, check the cameras and lenses over for dust and dirt.

Many of the mistakes made in the field can be negated by simply checking the viewfinder properly. Look at each of the functions shown in the viewfinder and check they are correct.

  • Is the ISO correct?
  • Have I dialed back any compensation?
  • Do my aperture and shutter speeds look right for the conditions?

Photography is a complex and technical process, but by training our minds to make certain elements of it routine, we can eliminate the simple mistakes that can ruin a shoot.


Professional Photography Tips – Top Takeaways

  • Have your routine written down before each time you head out with your gear. This then becomes a list of mindful habits, you can then turn into a mental list.
  • Check your gear when you've returned from a day or night shooting. It may seem like a load of effort, but it will be worth that effort in gold!
  • Have a spare of everything you can easily afford. I mean: batteries, SD cards, lens caps, neck straps – it's often these small things that can really bite the hardest when we're out, not so much having the wrong lens (though that's a pain, right).

Further Resources

Further Learning Material

Ok, so you're back from your well-organized shoot and ready to offload some of those images from your memory cards (see point no.2).
Now you'll want to get these awesome shots into your post processing software, right?
This guide by Photzy on “Understanding Post Processing” will see that you're doing it all right.

About the author

Jason Row

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer. He now concentrates on producing travel stock photography and video from around the world, and you can get to know him better here

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