5 Key Mistakes Beginner Photographers Should Avoid

Photo of a girl with a camera

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: there’s no shame in making a few mistakes as a beginner photographer if can you find a way to learn from them. That’s the message in the below tutorial from landscape photographer and Photoshop expert Serge Ramelli who explains five mistakes he sees beginner photographers consistently making and how to avoid them.

While the video is from a few years ago and its lessons might seem simple, Ramelli’s photography advice certainly bears repeating. So, if you’re planning on heading out on a photo shoot this weekend, you can use this as a checklist.

Mistake # 1: Shooting during daytime instead of sunset or sunrise

“Shooting at the wrong time is one of them most common mistakes that I see new photographers doing,” Ramelli says. “Some photos during the day can be really nice but if you take the time to come back for sunrise or sunset you will be surprised. Ninety percent of the time, whatever scene you are looking at will always look better at sunset or sunrise.”

Mistake # 2: Not using an ND filter when shooting the ocean

“Shooting without an ND filter is also a very common mistake because when you are by the ocean and you have movement with clouds, with water, you get very flat water. But if you start putting on an ND filter – and I recommend one to two seconds of exposure – what’s going to happen is that the water is going to look like a foam and it’s going to make for a much more interesting photo.”  

Mistake # 3:  Not using a tripod for night photography

“When I see people taking photos of, for example, the Eiffel Tower, without a tripod, I know they’re not going to get good shots. You’re going to get people in the shots and a lot of grain. Now if you put your camera on a tripod, what’s going to happen is that the long exposure is going to erase anything that’s moving, and you’ll be able to shoot at 100 ISO and get no grain/noise.”

Mistake # 4: Putting too many elements in your photo

“Not composing the elements of your photo to communicate a message. I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes photographers do when they start. We see, for example, the Cathedral of Notre Dame, and we take a shot, and there’s lots of people. Now take a different view at the same spot but, this time, I just waited for people not to be in front of my camera, I waited for the right light, and played with a puddle to get a reflection. It’s a much more pleasing photo.”  

Mistake # 5: Shooting JPEG instead of RAW

“Do not shoot in JPEG. Shoot in RAW and then retouch in Lightroom if you want to get excellent results.”

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