Top 10 Mistakes of Beginning Photographers
You probably have some very very nice pictures that you took.
Someone paid you a compliment that you have a Great Eye.
Maybe they meant it literally.
This photography stuff isn’t that hard.
You’re thinking if you cough up about $1,000, you can do this.
And that isn’t an unreasonable assumption.
The instant feedback with digital photography gives this impression that it is easy.
There may be more to it than just having a good eye.
Anyone of you reading this could have easily taken this image. You just had to be there with the right camera and lens. This portrait of artist Johnny Dominquez was done in available light. Having someone to assist made this easier. I used one reflector. Canon 40D 80- 200 zoom mm lens. Glad I did this picture when I did. He doesn’t have the hair anymore.
Here is where I think most beginners go wrong:
1.Not researching computer & camera to determine post production capability
Your computer is part and parcel of your adventure into digital photography.
Not taking the time to research its capability and considering its age, processor speed and amount of RAM is like going to the grocery store hungry without considering the menu and how much food to buy.
Most beginners succumb to the sales jargon and hype about megapixels thinking more is better.
That is certainly true but when they get the new toy home and see how their computer slows to a crawl, they find they may have to spend more to upgrade or buy a new computer.
2.Thinking the only way to get a certain picture is to buy special equipment
The majority of pictures you see are taken by very general purpose utilitarian photographic equipment.
There are exceptions like in wildlife photographer and sports photography when long focal lenses are needed.
Not all professional photographers have the whole arsenal of lenses from super wide to super telephoto. Most use a few staple lenses.
Don’t be seduced by the ads you see in glossy magazines and so on. Understand your equipment and learn the ins and outs of it first before buying more gear. You can always rent gear if you’re curious.
3.Not opening a picture on a computer and viewing it at 100%
Every picture you take looks sharp and very nice on your 3″ LCD monitor on the back of your camera. Even with zooming capabilities, it’s sometimes very hard to see if it’s sharp. Shoot a lot. Memory cards are cheaper these days compared to the past.
4.Deleting pictures based on tiny LCD monitor on back of camera
Related to the previous mistake, deleting images without critically analyzing the reason why a picture worked or didn’t work is a big mistake.
If you want to replicate a look or effect, you need to know the exposure information. If you don’t study the results and figure out these lessons, you will always be stuck a lucky photographer instead of a skillful photographer.
5.Shooting everything in Program or Auto Exposure mode
The Automatic and Program modes are wonderful but when you’re learning, you need to know and understand what each setting does and why you want to change it.
That is the sure way to be confident. When someone hands you a Nikon or a Canon camera, you should be able to work it.
You just need to figure out where on the camera’s body to change these settings. Once you are comfortable with these basics, you can pick up any camera and be able to use it. Sort of like driving.
Once you know how to drive, the kind of car doesn’t matter, you just need to familiarize yourself with the dashboard and instrument panel displays.
6.Buying too much camera for your level of experience
If there is a downside to digital single lens cameras and digital point and shoot cameras becoming cheaper, this is it.
As prices drop, these cameras are really becoming good value.
You can buy a digital SLR for as much as a point and shoot camera, so most folks wonder why don’t I get one?
The trouble is the learning curve is very steep if you have no photography experience. Remember, even if you don’t intend to edit (fix and play with your pictures in photoshop or a graphic program) you’ll need to understand how to save, crop and archive your images.
For the casual user, this is a a major undertaking especially if they don’t use a computer to begin with.
7.Not backing up pictures before deleting images on memory card
Digital is so convenient. There is no denying this, but disaster is only heartbeat away.
That image that lives on a memory card is very stable and not susceptible to many dangers like x-rays to film.
But if you don’t download your images to the computer and back them up frequently, you’re living on the edge all the time.
There is recovery software out there that might be able to avert such disaster, but their success is not 100%.
How about if your camera is stolen? You think the thief will be so kind to leave you the memory card?
8.Not buying enough memory cards
Flash memory is cheap compared to the past. When I bought my Canon 20D, I paid $200 for a 2GB SanDisk memory card.
Today at that price I can get a 16GB SanDisk card. When you run out of space on your memory card, your 1st instinct is to delete what you think is a bad image to make room.
It shouldn’t have to come to that. There is no reason not to buy more cards.
Related to this, if you have a memory card that has a corrupted image, it’s time to toss it out. There is no point using it. It is not trustworthy anymore.
9.Not buying enough batteries
As with most electronics, when you don’t have power for your camera, it is just an expensive necklace. And it’s not even a very pretty one.
10.Not reading the owners’ manual
Okay, when I get my hands on a new camera, I’m guilty of this as well.
But I already know what I need to work any camera. Most of the time, it’s buried underneath some confounded 4 or 5 layers of menus.
When it comes to figuring out how to work your particular camera, I’m afraid there is no escaping this one.
11.Not shooting enough
I know, I know I said top ten but this is such a big one I can’t leave it out. Many beginners take a picture, look at their LCD monitor right after then stop shooting the scene or their subject after one frame. Stopping after one picture was understandable in the film days but with digital? Expressions change quickly in portraits. Keep working the subject shoot a lot, try different viewpoints or different lenses.
I probably missed some others, but generally speaking these are the most common errors. If you think of others, by all means suggest them by commenting.