7 Common Beginner Photography Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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When you are learning anything, you are bound to make mistakes, and photography is no exception. Making mistakes can be a good thing, though, as long as you learn from them! If you are just beginning in photography, keep reading below to learn some of the mistakes you may be making in your photographs, and how to fix them.

1. Poor Composition

When you are first starting out, it can be hard to get a good composition in your photos. Common things beginners are guilty of is not getting close enough to their subject, which creates unnecessary space in your photos. Be mindful of everything that is inside your frame, and ask yourself if everything you see if relevant to your photo. If it is not, fix it by moving closer, zooming slightly, or changing your position.

All be careful of getting too close, though! While you want to be close enough to your subject to capture only relevant details, make sure that you are not so close that you are cutting off feet, hands, or the tops of someone’s head.

When composing your photos, another thing to keep in mind is the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds is a set of imaginary lines that create a grid on your frame, dividing it into nine different sections. By placing your subject in any of the top, bottom, left, or right boxes, you will create a balanced photo. Beginner photographers can be guilty of always centring the subjects in their photos, but if you place your subject slightly off to one side, following the Rule of Thirds, you will create a much more dynamic photo.

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2. Distracting Background.

Although you may have moved closer to cut out some unnecessary details in your photo, the background could still be distracting. When you have a background that is too busy, you will end up taking focus away from your subject. Paying attention to the background is important in creating a great photo, and it can be easy to focus only on your subject, and not notice what is going on behind them.

Some ways you can fix this are by moving your subject somewhere else, changing your position if you are unable to move your subject, or using a wide aperture to blur the background.

3. Always Shooting at Eye-Level

Eye-level is the most natural angle to shoot at, because that is how you see the world every day. That, however, is exactly what makes photos taken at these angle seem ordinary and not very exciting. By stepping outside of that angle and shooting at an angle that is not how people usually see the world will automatically make your photos more interesting.

Play around with different angles, taking photos that are close-up, at an extra wide angle, a bird’s eye view, or looking up.

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4. Never Using Flash

Photographers who say they don’t use flash because they “don’t like the way it looks”, are likely those that have not used a proper flash. If you have only used the pop-up flash on your camera, you are probably not going to like the results. This flash produces a harsh unflattering light that falls directly on the subject.

If you use an external flash, you will get much more flattering results. With an external flash, you can change the position and the angle of the flash, allowing you to bounce the light off a wall or reflector so that it lights up your frame in a much more flattering way. Flashes are very valuable tools that every photographer should know how to use!

5. Sticking with Auto White Balance

White balance allows you to determine the colour temperature of your images. If your images are coming out too yellow or blue, then you have the wrong white balance! Although there are preset options for white balance within your camera, these are not always entirely accurate, so in most situations you will be better off setting the white balance on your own.

The good thing about white balance is that it is something that can be fixed in post processing fairly easily. This is especially helpful while you are still learning! If the settings you used when you took your photo did not turn out quite right, or don’t look at good as they did when you looked at the photos on your camera, you can adjust the white balance in Lightroom.

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6. Taking Blurry Photos

Blurry images are usually caused by using a small aperture and slow shutter speed. Many beginners will set a small aperture, but then not set the shutter speed slow enough to get a clear image. If you want to use a small aperture to get more depth of field, it is important to remember that aperture and shutter speed must be kept in balance to avoid a blurry photo.

When setting your shutter speed, a good tip is to use a shutter speed that is at least equivalent to the focal length of the lens you are using. For example, if you are using a 50mm prime lens, the slowest shutter speed you can use without shake would be 1/50 of a second.

If you want to set your aperture smaller, and therefore a slower shutter speed, use a tripod to avoid camera shake and blurry photos.

7. Shooting at the Wrong Time of Day

Some beginner photographers will seek out the most light possible for their photographs out of fear that there will not be enough light and they will need to bump up the ISO, which could result in grainy images. This leads them to shoot at midday, when the light is far from ideal for photography.

When the light is coming from directly from above, as it is at midday, it will create deep shadows that are hard to overcome. The contrast between light and dark will be too extreme, making it hard to get proper exposure.

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A much better time to shoot is in the window just after sunrise, and just before sunset. At these times of day – often referred to as “Golden Hour” – the light is at a much more flattering angle, and is much softer, avoiding the harsh shadows that are produced at the brightest part of the day.

If you cannot avoid shooting at midday, then just be mindful of how bright the light is and find ways to work around it. For example, you can move your subject to the shade, so the light is filtered and less intense.

 

If you are guilty of making some of these mistakes, that is okay! Now that you know what you may have been doing wrong, you can work to fix them. The more you practice, the more you will learn, and the better your photos will become!

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