Top 5 Beginner Mistakes


Disclaimer: Yes, I have done all of these, any examples are photos I took while learning myself. (most were taken while I was in high-school).

All photographers do this at some point, you have to start somewhere. Take an easy road right now though and check out these common beginner mistakes that I have learned to avoid.

1. Monkey in the Middle

The first problem new photographers usually make is sticking the subject right in the middle of the frame. This can work for some subjects, but it often makes the photo unbalanced and visually uninteresting. This is covered extensively in an earlier blog about the rule of thirds which you can check out here.

2. Background Checks

Wait, is that a tree growing out of her bassoon?! Always check your background.

Wait, is that a tree growing out of her bassoon?! Always check your background.

Many new photographs become a little too focused on their subject sometimes that they forget to check their background. Nothing is worse than having a wonderfully exposed portrait only to find a telephone pole growing out of their head.

If the distracting background is unavoidable try to get closer to your subject and fill the frame with them. Using a large aperture as well will blur out the background, placing less emphasis on any rouge trees.

If you need help figuring out how to create separation between your subject and background, there is also a blog post about that here.

3. Bad Lighting

Light is your paint. You wouldn't try making a masterpiece with cheap paint, so strive to find good light.

Avoid direct sunlight for portraits, it makes your subject squint and causes harsh shadows. Merely turning the subject away from the sun can improve photos dramatically.

Bonus tip: Avoid crazy fonts for watermarks, simple is better.

4. (On Camera) Flash

Flash is the bane of snapshots. Nothing instantly detracts from the look of photos more than pop-up flashes. It washes out colors and, like sunlight, puts harsh shadows across the face. If you are taking photos for anything other than documentation, turn off flash.

If there isn't enough light to hand hold a sharp photo, use a tripod or increase your ISO.

If you have to tilt your head to look at it, don't do it.

If you have to tilt your head to look at it, don't do it.

5. Dutch-Angles

It always seems like a good idea... at first.

They might not always be that bad either, but I can assure you down the road, these will be the photos you look back at the least. Its akin to overusing an Instagram filter. 

Try to keep your lines straight, dutch angles are awkward to look at. Take this photo for example. Should it be displayed horizontal? Vertical? Who knows, but I can tell you it didn't end up on my friends wall.


Have any beginner tips you would like to share? Leave them in the comments below!