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5 Mistakes New Photographers Make

Creative Market March 28, 2024 · 4 min read

New photographers have to take in a lot of information when they’re first starting out. They have to learn the difference between camera bodies, types of lenses, how to frame shots, how to focus, what types of lighting work best for different situations – and that’s only the beginning! It is fun to embark upon learning the art of photography but the prospect can be a bit daunting when you’re first starting out.

The good news is that getting better just takes practice. The more you shoot, the more you will learn and the more fun you will have with it. There are some basic facts you should know when you’re just getting started. After all, it’s better to learn from others’ mistakes than to learn by making the same ones yourself! Here are five common mistakes that new photographers make and how you can be sure to avoid them.

1. Shooting in Automatic Mode

Digital cameras are smart and the automatic setting can be great in many situations. However, shooting in manual mode is by far the best way to learn about how the camera works and how to produce the best shots in any situation. Manual mode gives you much more flexibility. You have control over depth of field and shutter speed, which are necessary settings to manage when you want to produce sharp, stunning photos.

2. Shooting in JPEG instead of RAW

JPEGs are fine for everyday shots, but when you’re ready to start shooting professionally, RAW images are the way to go. Shooting in RAW may require more storage, but the payoff is much more image data, making RAW images far superior in terms of post-processing freedom. Adjusting white balance is one key area where you’ll find that RAW images outperform JPEGs.

3. Shooting Tilted Photos

One surefire way to spot a new photographer is when all their photos are intentionally crooked. Although it might seem artsy, shooting photos that are tilted is generally a bad idea. Tilting your camera doesn’t always make for a better or more dramatic photo. It can be useful if you want to convey motion in your photos, but it doesn’t make sense to tilt the camera with a still subject. Instead, keep the camera pointed straight on in order to get a perfectly composed shot.


4. Poor White Balance

Different light sources produce many different colors of light. When we look at these colors, our eyes and brain correct for most of these variations. A digital camera, however, needs to be manually adjusted to account for the source of light. Cameras have a selection of white balance settings that help adjust it to the lighting condition. Using the Daylight white balance setting will adjust the camera’s settings to be appropriate for shooting outside in bright or moderate daylight, for example. If you’re shooting in RAW files, you can also correct the white balance in post-processing.


5. Using Ugly, Built-In Lightroom Presets

Most of us are familiar with the Lightroom preset filters that automatically adjust the color, contrast, brightness, etc. of a given photo. These filters are generic and don’t account for the nuances of the photo, however. They can end up detracting from the quality of a photo instead of enhancing it. It’s better to purchase high-quality presets that are more sophisticated and do your photos more justice.

Use These Presets Instead

If you’re ready to upgrade your Lightroom presets, here are some fantastic sets for you to check out:

What Else?

These are five basic mistakes that new photographers make that can easily be avoided in order to enhance the quality of your photos. If you’re serious about getting better, just keep on practicing! Even if you make mistakes, you will continue to learn and get better over time.

What other mistakes did you make as a new photographer? Share your experience in the comments below.

Header image created using Analog Camera, Thirsty Script, and Eveleth.

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