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3 Portrait Photography Mistakes Beginners Make

Recognizing your errors is the first step to improving your photography
Photo of a woman by a pool

Making mistakes isn’t always a bad thing. In some cases, mistakes can help you recognize a recurring problem so you can fix it immediately. After all, no one wants to keep making the same errors again and again, right?

This is particularly true when it comes to portrait photography, pro photographer Eli Infante explains in the below video. In the seven-minute tutorial at the bottom of this post, Infante shares three portrait mistakes he made when he was a beginner and explains how he fixed them to improve his photos.

“If anything, these were just bad habits that I was doing over and over again,” Infante says. “As soon as I shifted my mindset, I started to see improvements in my portraits. The moral of this whole video is not being afraid to fail.”

#1 Soft Light Only: Never Using Hard Light

“First one on the list is using soft light only,” he notes. “For the longest time I had this bad perception of hard light, thinking that it had no place in my portrait photography. It wasn’t until I had this great conversation with a photographer that I admire. He told me something I’ll never forget, which was, ‘My grandmother could take a great portrait with soft light but give me a photographer who can use hard light and that’s going to show me their true skills.’ Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”

#2 Golden Hour: Never Shooting During Midday

“For the longest time, I never really shot during the middle of the day, mainly because I was scared of the harsh light. But I knew that I had to practice and get my reps in shooting in the middle of the day. And what I’ve noticed is I’ve started to see new possibilities of getting these interesting shadows on the ground that you typically wouldn’t get during golden hour.”

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#3 Bokeh Lenses Only: Canon 24-105mm F/4

“Number three has to be my limiting mindset on using ‘bocalicious’ lenses. Of course, you’ve got to love your prime lenses, your 1.2, your 1.4s and even your 1.8s. But as I’ve been shooting in the studio, one of the lenses that’s my go-to lens that never comes off is the Canon 24-105mm F/4.”

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