The Top Mistakes of New Photographers

The following are among the top mistakes of new photographers.

1) Shooting everything in automatic mode.

Modern digital cameras are fantastic pieces of technology, but they can’t work miracles. Automatic modes work for most situations, but they can lead to errors. If you shoot everything in automatic mode you aren’t exercising the level of creative control that a camera offers. Switch to manual mode to learn the true potential of creative photography. Note: I am not saying that manual is ALWAYS the best choice. Often, Aperture or Shutter priority mode will be the best option. What I am saying is, learn to use all the modes, and learn when each is most appropriate. Understanding manual mode presupposes an understand of all the other modes. Then you can pick the best mode for the results you want to achieve.

2) Not reading the manual.

Most people can’t wait to get their new camera out of the box and start snapping. Digital cameras are easy to operate, and you can usually work out how to operate them by trial and error. However, if you don’t read the manual you will miss the more advanced features of a camera, dramatically increase your learning curve, and not use it to its full potential.

This is one of those ‘do as I say, not as I do” moments. I admit that I am not an avid manual reader. Certainly, after more than 40 years of shooting, I can pick up most cameras and get decent results, immediately . However, if can be a little embarrassing to use a camera for a while, only to learn that there is a cool, or effective, or work saving new feature that I didn’t know about. It does seem like a waste of money to buy a piece of equipment, then ignore many of it capabilities.

3) Thinking that you need more equipment.

As well as cameras and lenses, there are hundreds of accessories and other pieces of equipment available to the photographer. In reality, you can take most photographs on a good digital camera with a standard lens. Photographers who feel the need to buy more and more equipment often end up frustrated and disappointed. You can always invest in more specialist equipment later if you want to take your photography in a specific direction. Many pros will rent a specific lens, or other equipment, to see how they like it, and how it fits into their style and workflow, before investing the money to purchase it. Of course, most pros (or your friends) will give you their opinion on something — but it is filtered through their eyes. It is based on their style and vision — not yours.

4) Not buying enough memory cards.

Memory cards are very cheap to buy, so there’s no need to limit the number of shots you take and get by with just one or two cards. Always shoot in the best quality mode that your camera offers to ensure you are getting the most from it. Keep plenty of spare memory cards, and shoot as many shots as you think you need to get a really great picture every time.

5) Buying the wrong type of camera.

This is a classic mistake that many people new to photography make. Sophisticated digital SLR cameras have come down in price over recent years, but ask yourself how advanced a camera do you really need. You may be paying for features that you don’t need and will never use. The frustration of studying a really complicated camera could put you off actually using it. Professional digital SLR cameras are also waterproof and built to take knocks and heavy use, so don’t pay for one of these unless you really need those features.

6) Editing in camera.

You should resist the urge to edit in camera, and never delete an image until you can look at it on your computer. Shots which may look poor in the camera’s viewfinder may actually have something going for them. A shot which looks too dark or has some other apparent fault can often be rescued using image editing software.

7) Not using your camera enough.

Once you get a passion for photography your camera should be with you at all times. You will miss some great shots if you only take your camera out for special occasions or when you go out specifically to take some pictures. There’s no better way to learn photography than to use your camera and take pictures. Reading books and manuals is great, but actually pressing the shutter button is a better use of your time as a photographer.

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