Making mistakes is an inevitable part of learning. Sometimes, mistakes aren’t such a bad thing. After all, Coca-Cola, icepops and crisps were invented by mistake. But when it comes to photography, mistakes can wreck memories and ruin images. And while you’ll still make plenty of your own blunders, check to ensure these ten common mistakes new photographers make aren’t among them.
1. Buying too much gear, too quickly
Gear Acquisition Syndrome hits even the most seasoned photographers, but new photographers tend to buy into the idea that buying a lot of new gear will make them a better photographer. A new camera (lens, flash etc.) will not make you a better photographer. The best photographer can take a great photo with any camera. It’s the technical knowledge, creativity and an eye for light that will make you a better photographer. Now, that’s not to say you should never get a new camera. Different gear will offer you more flexibility and higher resolution among others perks. Just don’t expect a great camera to take great pictures. At least, not without a great photographer behind it.
2. Shooting in the “best” weather
Experienced photographers have a bit different definition of what the best weather is. Those bright sunshiny days that everyone else just raves about during small talk? They’re actually horrible for images. Direct sunlight is too harsh as it creates dark shadows. On a sunny day, the sky is often so bright that it’s overexposed. There’s ways of working around harsh sunlight, but if you can go out on a cloudy day, or just after sunrise or just before sunset, go then, especially when you’re a beginner.
3. Testing out a new technique on a moment that really matters
You read that great article on manual modes and you want to try them out. But don’t try manual modes for the first time at a wedding, or some other important event. Take an hour or two to just spend with your camera shooting something that you can shoot again later if you make a mistake. Don’t lose an important moment experimenting.
4. Forgetting that there’s a happy medium
You’ve just discovered depth of field, and how aperture affects how much of your image is in focus. You shoot in aperture priority mode at either f1.8, or f/22. But there’s a whole lot of f-numbers between those two, and they shouldn’t be ignored. Beginners tend to use one extreme or the other when they learn a new technique, like depth of field. Instead, base your choice on your subject, and don’t forget there’s more than just one extreme or the other. A large subject may not be completely in focus at f/1.8. Check your image and adjust more towards the middle if you need to.
5. Being too shy to get in close
Most new photographers tend to stand back too far, instead of filling the frame with the subject or trying multiple perspectives. Don’t be afraid to get in close. For that matter, don’t be afraid to lie on your stomach, climb up a tree or whatever it takes to get the right perspective.
6. Being afraid of flash
Used incorrectly, the flash is harsh and unnatural. Many images make it obvious that a flash was used. But flash often gets a bad rep. When you understand how to use one, it’s difficult to even tell that a flash was used in the first place. For example, flash is a great tool for shooting in harsh sunlight to fill out the shadows. Once you learn manual mode, start learning how to work with your flash.