10 Mistakes Beginner Photographers Make and How To Avoid Them

If you're new to photography, you're bound to make a few mistakes. That's completely okay. Frankly, it's a necessary part of the process. Even the best photographers in the world have had their share of blunders. Those mistakes are a big part of how they got to where they are now. The key is to take those mistakes and learn from them.

Here are ten common photography mistakes that you yourself have probably committed at least once, and how you can avoid making them the next time you're out on a shoot.

Mistake 1: Missed Focus

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Even with camera manufacturers producing better, faster and more accurate autofocusing systems, there are still far too many badly focused photos going around in cyberspace. It's one of the most common mistakes people make when taking photos. But while it's something we can overlook when made by non-photographers, for a beginner photographer looking to improve your game, missed focus in images is something you should avoid. It can easily ruin what would have been a great photo otherwise.

Solution: Study your camera's different autofocusing modes and learn to utilize them to your advantage. Practice adjusting your camera's autofocusing system so that it becomes second nature. And make sure to lock down that correct focus before you push that shutter button all the way.

Mistake 2: Not Having a Clear Subject

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Many people just point and shoot. They don't carefully consider every important element in their frame before snapping away. All too often, beginner photographers end up with far too many photos with no clear subject because of this. There might be unnecessary elements in their photos or they just don't get close enough to their subjects. Either way, not having a clear subject to draw the viewers' attention makes a photo look flat and uninteresting.

Solution: Before clicking that shutter, make sure to study your frame and adjust accordingly to remove clutter. Get in the habit of using the best aperture for every shot, as the widest apertures can help isolate your subject. And learn to get closer to your subjects.

Mistake 3: Blurry Shots

Blurry shots are one of the worst offenders when it comes to bad photographs. It's one thing to use blur to convey motion. It's another thing to produce an image that is unintentionally blurry due to camera shake or slow shutter speed. Even when everything else is just right, it still won't likely result in a good photo. Plus, bad accidental blur just reeks of inexperience. 

Solution: Use faster shutter speeds or utilize a tripod.

Mistake 4: Shooting in JPEG

If you're a casual shooter, taking photos in JPEG format is okay. However, if you want to be well on your way to becoming a proper photographer, you must abandon shooting in JPEG. JPEG files are compressed and contain considerably less information. They have reduced dynamic range, to start, so you lose a lot of details in the highlights and shadows. And they're just not as ideal for post-processing.

Solution: Shoot in RAW. It is uncompressed, contains all the data from the sensor, has a greater dynamic range, and is best for photo editing.

Mistake 5: Ignoring the Details

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Crooked horizons, cut off limbs, cluttered background and foreground, stray hair, weird shadows on your subject's face... those are only some of the things that could ruin your photo if you don't pay attention to the details. Photography isn't just about being creative; a thought process is also necessary to produce a great image. 

Solution: Before pressing the shutter, it's good practice to take a second or two to examine your frame to make sure everything is in order. Also double-check your aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings, as well as your focus.

Mistake 6: Not Knowing Your Way Around Your Camera

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You could have the best camera in the world in your hands. If you don't learn how to properly utilize it, it's not going to matter that much. It still won't help you take considerably better images especially if you're just shooting in auto. And it also gets in the way of your creative process.

Solution: It helps to read your camera's manual. This won't just help you familiarize yourself with the buttons, dials, and menu, but it'll also introduce you to some functions you wouldn't have know were there.

Mistake 7: Using the Wrong Lens

Many newbies assume that whatever lens comes with their newly purchased camera is good enough, and that it's the camera that does most of the work. Sadly, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Lenses come in many focal lengths, not to mention quality and features. 

Solution: Invest in solid, high-quality lenses. Better quality lenses deliver higher image quality while cheaper quality lenses tend to deliver lower image quality. Additionally, different focal lengths serve different purposes. For example, 50mm and 85mm lenses are great for portraits, wide-angle lenses are generally good for landscapes, and 70-200mm lenses are excellent for shooting wildlife and sports.

Mistake 8: Always Shooting in Landscape Mode

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Most people instinctively shoot in landscape mode, which makes sense as it generally allows them to fit more in the frame. However, not every composition is best captured in landscape, even when you're shooting a landscape or street scene. Similarly, not all portrait shots must be captured in portrait mode.

Solution: Study your scene and figure out which format suits it best. Occasionally, a landscape scene looks better in portrait mode and a portrait of a person or a pet is better in landscape mode. When in doubt, capture your scene in both modes and decide which is better later.

Mistake 9: Over-Processing

Newbies try to overcompensate by boosting saturation, slapping on faded filters, or adding exaggerated HDR effects to their photos, thinking this might improve their image or somehow make it more attractive. Sure, sometimes that works. Most of the time, however, this shortcut usually just makes the photos look unappealing and unrealistic.

Solution: There's nothing wrong with editing your photos to make them better, but don't use it a clutch. Try to get as much as you can in-camera, and then adjust as needed.

Mistake 10: Taking Too Many Photos of Nothing

Many beginner photographers get shutter happy and end up taking hundreds of photos of nothing in particular, probably thinking there's safety in numbers. However, in photography, quality over quantity still applies. It's better to go home with one great image rather than end up with a bunch of pedestrian ones that will probably never see the light of day.

Solution: It's worthwhile to plan your shoots. Take your time and be patient. Consider every composition before pressing that shutter. And only share your best-of-the-best.