10 Beginner Photography mistakes I wish I never made

Why you should read these 10 beginner Photography mistakes


I have made many photography mistakes in the past. Most of these mistakes are forgivable but mistakes nonetheless. You see the learning curve for a photographer is quite huge. Much of what you learn is really by trial and error. You make a mistake, you recognize the mistake, and then you fix it. It is just part of being a beginner at everything that you do. 

You see, as a photographer, you have to control the subject, control artistic vision, and control all the extremely technical aspects of any given shot. I love the idea that photography is apparently simple but deeply complex. It’s the dance between the two that makes it so much fun.


Share my beginner mistakes with you?


So I want you to read this list to show you my personal 10 beginner photography mistakes I thought sent me down the wrong path to make you aware of them. This way your path to perfection might even be quicker. In no way, shape or form am I telling you what to do. These are mere suggestions.


I also have a blog post on better street photography techniques

Woman in the street looking to the right
So much about photography is only learned through experience

Getting a great picture takes a lot



Therefore, photography is all about getting a photograph that you are happy with and proud of – plain and simple. 

It sounds like something cut and dry but it is not. Remember that the comparison of your work to others, self-image, and reaching personal goals, make getting to that picture you love a bit complicated. Every day, the bar is moved and it seems that you will never get that photo to your total satisfaction.

Ant climbing the side of a camera strap
Not only must you look at what the picture is but also what surrounds it.

I looked at what obstacles made it hard to get to the goal of having that photo that I am happy with when I made this list.

I need a picture of a flower. What does it take?

Image of a flower taken from very closeup
Even for macro photography, many aspects need to be just right

Subject control

You gotta make sure the flower is just the right flower.

Artistic control

The feel of the shot has to be what you want artistically. ex) barely lit, angle from below, just one petal in focus, etc.

Technical control

Got to can f stop, ambient light, shutter speed, and other technical details are perfect to communicate your vision.

Let’s make my therapy useful


For the benefit of my own self-therapy and for the benefit of all the beginners out there, here are some of the photography mistakes I made while growing up as a photographer.

technique mistakes

1) I took crooked photos

It took me years to realize that crooked photos just make photos look amateur. By just spending 10 seconds longer in the upper corner of the crop tool, you bring all your photos to the next level. Sounds dumb but just do the test and look at some photos out on Flickr or Instagram that you find amateur. Nine times out of ten they are crooked. 

2) I prioritized manual and did not use auto enough

I would always want to make sure that I was getting the technique of photography down as much as possible by diving into the hard stuff. By doing this, I got a bit discouraged and would not pick the camera up as much as I would have liked to. The less I picked the camera up, the longer it took for me to get better. Getting excited about photography will be your key to improving I now know that photography settings for beginners should be approached in the following way.

  • Shoot on auto or P when you start
  • Shoot in shutter priority when you get the hang of it
  • Try out aperture priority when you get at ease
  • Go for manual
3) I did not respect the flow of natural light

Photography is about catching light. Most of all, it is about catching it in a way that evokes emotion. It can be extremely subtle and really harsh. By manipulating light you can control the message you want to get across. Do not ignore any light and always respect natural light.

4) I did not put a priority on post-production

Had I known how important it was to understand and know Adobe Photoshop, I would have spent a little more time mastering it at the beginning. I really thought that it was just a small part of the photographer workflow. Boy was I wrong. In 2020, 50% of your photography process is about how you treat the photo when the file is in your computer.

Comparison of two identical images processed differently
The left image is straight out of the camera whereas the right image is processed in Photoshop using dodge and burn techniques
5) I was too preoccupied with low light

An image defines itself not only by where the light is but also by where there is none

Whether it be for the performance of my equipment or my priorities in my shooting techniques, I just paid way too much attention to getting shots, that despite, their low light nature, were well lit. When you want to light up an otherwise low lit scene you are taking it out of its natural form. This is just plain wrong.

Respect the lighting of a scene. Most importantly, trust what your eye sees.

gear mistakes

6) I bought way too many zoom lenses

For the longest time, I thought that all I needed was an 18-135mm and a 70-200mm and I could get whatever shot I needed. I was in love with the idea of not changing out my lenses. Later I would discover that image quality and zoom range are inversely proportional. The higher the zoom range, the softer and undesirable the image is-plain and simple. Remember that the bottleneck of any photograph is the lens.

7) I spent more money on camera bodies than I did on camera lenses

If you have a great camera body and a crappy camera lens, the result is a crappy shot. If you have a great lens and a crappy body, you will still get great image quality. Not much more to say on this point really.

8) I lacked focus

Looking at so many inspirational photographers got me wanting to do so many different things. I needed to concentrate on what I wanted to do. In a world where social media offers you so many different creative stimuli, it is important to remember where YOU come from and not always others.

attitude mistakes

9) Too preoccupied with capturing and not living

The reason you shoot is to capture that moment that you felt meant something to you personally. I myself got so caught up into capturing the moment so much that I did not always enjoy the moment I was capturing. I now give myself a bit of time to enjoy what I am experiencing. 99% of the time it allows you to see a different angle to what you are shooting.

10) Not having an artistic vision

I still fight with this one. I look at a whole bunch of photographers that I feel are way above me and I try to see the difference between them and I and it always comes down to vision. Something about the best photographer’s photos emanates style, purpose, and an original artistic angle. I really think that today I am technically pretty darned good, but I believe that to define myself as an outstanding photographer I will have to develop my vision of things in the next couple of years.

Hope all of this helps, If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to comment in the comment section below.

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