The 5 Worst Habits of New Photographers

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Photography is a fun and exciting hobby, and for many of us a job too.  Once only seen as a hobby that took a lot of money and some proper schooling to enjoy, the continuing price drops in gear that consistently gets better each year combined with the wealth of information online has seen a surge in the photography industry like never before.  With the surge comes lots of new photographers, and that means lots of bad habits can be formed.  Avoid these 5 habits that could negatively affect your photography and photos and enjoy the hobby so many of us love.

Shooting RAW means we don't need to expose everything perfectly.  We've covered this over and over again, but RAW is not an excuse to be a sloppy, lazy photographer.  Shooting with the intention of fixing the exposure after the fact makes you a poor photographer and a decent post-processor.

Not taking the time to learn how to properly set a custom white balance.  I've shown you how to do a custom white balance, not doing so is the same as shooting RAW with the anticipation of fixing it in post.  All you're doing is creating more work and losing the ability to have the correct color the first time, in camera.

Overshooting. Digital means that every frame is essentially free.  No film costs, processing or print costs – just lots of free photos, right?  Not really.  If you overshoot because you're sloppy with framing or composition, you're creating more work in post production to narrow down your keepers and not learning as much of your craft as possible.  Starting to see a trend here?  I'm not saying that one photo of any given situation is all you should ever take, there's a time and place for bracket exposure shooting and high-speed burst shooting.  What I'm saying is, take a few seconds to think about how you want the shot to end up before you shoot it.

Deleting photos in camera too fast.  I strongly urge you to never delete photos in your camera, it can cause memory card corruption and you may miss out on a great shot.  Cards are cheap, buy a few large ones and you'll never have to delete to make room.

Blaming the gear you use for the lack of quality you're producing.  Photography is an interesting hobby, one that anyone can get into with a limited budget and one that new photographers often assume the more you spend the better your photos.  The person holding the camera is vision behind each and every photo and composition and exposure choices are made by you.  Sure, there are better lenses and bodies that meet special needs, like faster frames per second and full frame for wide shots, but in the end, your call to push the shutter release with the settings you have is all you.  Some of our favorite photos were taken on a point & shoot camera, there's nothing wrong with that – a camera is simply a tool.



Avoid these 5 bad habits when you start shooting for a lifelong hobby you'll love and enjoy.  If you've been shooting and currently do any of these, consider stopping and see how much more fun you have.

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is a professional photographer. See his site at Mike Panic Photography.

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17 thoughts on “The 5 Worst Habits of New Photographers

  1. karen Robert

    Oh God, you got me. I do all of those things! I’m not even close to pretending ot be a professional photographer. But I am a real appreciator of good photography. I did a posting on my blog about bad save the date cards. The photographers were all trying too hard to make the photo…interesting, but they all missed badly. It’s hard ot be a great photographer, and so easy to get it wrong. http://www.hohumcards.com/2010/05/bad-save-the-date-cards-brides-be-warned/

  2. karen Robert

    Oh God, you got me. I do all of those things! I’m not even close to pretending ot be a professional photographer. But I am a real appreciator of good photography. I did a posting on my blog about bad save the date cards. http://www.hohumcards.com/2010/05/bad-save-the-date-cards-brides-be-warned/ The photographers were all trying too hard to make the photo…interesting, but they all missed badly. It’s hard to be a great photographer, and so easy to get it wrong!

  3. Megan

    If you can defend your photo…. and you got what you wanted in the image, then I say that’s more than fine but your art! Old School Craft…. Institutions of Fine Art eg. Corcoran would let a student know that….”expected one role of FILM, product expected one good image! Fine Art Education needs a slight push on business….Picture Mall People should not be charging and getting what they do for the images they get! Shoot 400 pics, Edit…. that’s what may show the masses what else is out there! Always work you Craft!

  4. don

    Its been my experience that so many new photographers have no knowledge of history of art and the many many photographers that have come before us. Few know the craft of a visual story.

  5. John MacLean Photography

    I thought the article would be on the business side of photographers, There are plenty more reasons there to be concerned,

    The first three items are BS.

    #1&2 – I shoot raw and auto WB. If I don’t like what I got, then I alter it in Lightroom. Sure getting close on exposure is nice, and if I have time with static objects then I’ll bracket. And I’ll also shoot a Macbeth chart in a frame if I have time too. But technically accurate color isn’t always artistically pleasing.

    #3 – My Dad used to tell me back in the 70s that film was cheap, shoot – shoot! Now “film” being digital is really cheap. Why would I want to miss a shot because I was being selective while shooting?

    #4 – Agreed, unless I’m showing a client the camera LCD and I don’t want them to see something unintentionally wrong.

    #5 – I couldn’t agree more. People come up to me and say that’s a nice camera it must take some great pictures. I tell them “It’s the Indian, not the arrow.” IOW the person behind the camera makes the photo, not the gear. That said, I’m a gear junky!

  6. summerbl4ck

    I’m not sure you can really blame new photographers for “overshooting.” Practice is how you learn. By seeing your mistakes, your repetitive shots, your missed timing, etc is how you figure out how to do it right next time, how you develop confidence that you got the shot you wanted and you don’t need to shoot more. I think it’s much better for a newbie for shoot too much than to hesitate and shoot too little.

  7. bogz

    still good advices…#3 well i think what hes telling us is we should learn how to compose our shots better…not just shooting and shooting without a bit of thinking…analyze before action….

  8. Will McA

    Excellent post as usual.

    I have to disagree with #3 Overshooting though, if anything the biggest mistake beginners make is undershooting. They take a couple of shots and then move on, either because they lack patience or because they assume that there’s nothing more they can try to improve the shot.

    If you look at the memory card of a serious photographer you’ll find it’s jam packed with photos of the same subject, because in amongst all that lot, there’s bound to be that perfect shot.

  9. David

    I think you have valid points on some. However, overshooting is not a problem. If you don’t practice and use every available feature of the body you have you’ll never learn to get the perfect shot in less exposures. Practice Prevents Piss Poor Planning, as the old saying goes, I believe it fits here also.

  10. Tim Snow Photography

    Strongly agree with everything with one exception, as a working photojournalist working in light that changes by the minute, it is rare that I will set a custom WB. I know how to do it, and have done it, but in my day to day work it is a bit unrealistic.
    The thing I will replace it with, to keep the list at 5, is urge younger shooters against “turning pro” too early. Make sure you understand your craft and the ins and outs of the business before you take the plunge. Making good photos during a family pic-nic does not mean you will be able to work under a tight deadline with lots of action going on around you. A reputation can follow you for years, good or bad.

  11. mo

    i’m not sure if shooting Raw should be a sin. i shoot Raw all the time but it doesn’t mean i dont properly expose or shoot with the intention of fixing it later. there are simply more colors and latitude available in Raw. custom white balance is not necessary if you shoot Raw either.

    i would agree with you on deleteing stuff too quickly though.

    i get your point in blaming the gear but the only reason most peoples favorite photos were taken with a point and shoot is because of the subject taken with it not the photographic or artistic value. if gear is not important then why dont we all go back to our 30d’s and d40’s and kit lenses?

  12. John

    I can’t see any reason not to shoot RAW. When you shoot .jpg you’re letting the camera choose how to compress the file and what information is useful. Wouldn’t you rather make that choice yourself in post?
    Also, I think “overshooting” could be rephrased a little. Shoot with a purpose might be a better way to say it. Digital is free to develop, but it does take time in post. From deleting to editing do you really want to spend time on a bad photo?

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