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10 Photography Mistakes Beginners Make

How to fix these common photo errors
Photo of beginner photography mistakes

If you’re just starting out in photography, you’re bound to make a few mistakes. What’s critical though is to learn from those errors and that’s the goal of Parker Walbeck‘s tutorial below where he discusses ten photography mistakes beginners make and how to fix them.

In the video below, Walbeck teams up with pro photographer Nate Taylor to explain these common problems and show you how to do things the right way.

Mistake #1: Focusing Too Much on the Gear

“Yes, we do use nice equipment and yes, it does make a difference,” Taylor says. “But the biggest reason we put this as number one is because people get so hung up on the gear and don’t get out and create with the gear they have.”

Mistake #2: Wrong Camera Settings

“This mistake is probably the most obvious because it’s one of the fundamental parts of photography,” Walbeck explains. “So first let’s talk about mistakes that happen with shooting modes. More often than not we see photographers shooting in automatic. Shooting in Auto is not the mistake. It’s when the photographer hasn’t tried any other mode because they’re too afraid to try.”

Mistake #3: Bad Composition

“Knowing how to properly compose an image will instantly up your photo game,” Taylor adds. “As beginners, we tend not to fill the frame with the subject. Instead, we include too much background, foreground, other people and objects.”

Mistake #4:  Bad Lighting

“One of the biggest things that separates a professional photographer from a beginner is their ability to use and shape light,” Walbeck notes. “When beginners first start out, they have no idea how to work with light or where to place their subject to have nice flattering light come across their face.”

Mistake #5: Soft Focus

“Everything can be great about your photo but if it’s out of focus, it will be unusable,” Taylor says. “To help you nail focus, I’m going to share with you three tips to counter the mistakes I see when focus is missed: Servo vs One Shot, Shaky Frame, and Back Button Focus.”

Mistake #6: Lack of Movement or Action

“Too often I see beginners go out to take pictures of their dog but all they capture is the dog sleeping and are proud of those pictures,” Taylor says. “I’m not saying taking pictures of their dog is wrong but if they want to go out during golden hour to play fetch and capture that dog running back with the ball, that image will be far better.”

Mistake #7: Using the Wrong Lens

“What makes this mistake obvious is when a wide-angle lens is used on a close-up of the human face,” Walbeck explains. “For close-ups of the face, you want to be between about 70 and 100 millimeters.”

Mistake #8: Bad Posing

“We have all seen those pictures where the couple look like they’re in pain and don’t want to be having their picture taken,” Taylor notes. “When you’re looking for inspiration and see a portrait that captures candid expressions and authentic moods, you’re tempted to recreate that look. Instead of recreating a pose, try to direct them to do things that will naturally and organically create that emotion you are looking for.”

Mistake #9: Over Editing

“When just starting out we like to have a little too much fun in the editing room and we take images way too far,” Taylor states. “We like to call this the overzealous processor.”

Mistake #10: Not Enough Reps

“You need to spend a larger amount of time creating than you do consuming,” Walbeck concludes. “If you want to escape beginner status, you have to put in thousands of reps of practice. The only way to improve is to constantly be shooting and learning from your mistakes.”

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