10 Mistakes I've Made as a Photographer

Updated: Mar 24, 2021

Starting out as a photographer is daunting. It's challenging to know when or how to reach out to people to shoot or even if you're good enough to warrant shooting with others. I've learned the hard way about most everything I now know. Learning from these mistakes has allowed me to grow my photography skills and business and turn profits. I'll show you what I've done wrong and save you time from making the same mistakes.


Let's dive right in.


 

1)Take your time with the shot

In too many instances I've found myself feeling pressured or nervous and my instinct is to just press the shutter button and call it done. When I get home and begin going through my photos I find myself severely disappointed in the results. The photographs that come back or either poorly lit, not well composed, or just simply not in focus. If you find yourself encountering the same problems, take a deep breath, really think about what you're trying to capture, focus the camera, and shoot.

The first photograph I took is out of focus, dark, slanted, and poorly composed. The second is taken with more consideration and time. Slowing down allows me to ground myself and get the shot.

 

2) Wipe off your lens

I often drop my lens cap in the snow. When I put it back on my camera I inadvertently also wet my lens. I've found that oftentimes the reason my photo has an odd glare is that there's something phyically on my lens. Make sure to keep your lens cap dry and clean so you don't get any surprisingly-funky shots.


 

3) Always Make Sure Your Camera is Charged

This one is a killer. Waking up at 4 am and driving 40 minutes to get a picture of a sunrise doesn't pan out if your camera is dead. Write yourself a checklist of the things you need to remember to do before each shoot and make sure to complete it the night before.

(I ended up trying again the next day at 4 am...^)

 

4) Don't let yourself be lazy about taking photos

When you have the inkling to take a photograph, trust yourself and get out there! I find that I become unwilling to take photographs when in the car because I don't want to stop and exert the effort I need to snap a photo. However, I now know that if I think I should whip out my camera, then I probably should!


After driving through the mountains for hours this viewpoint seemed mundane to me. I almost didn't get out of the car to snap this shot!

 

5) Find a reason to get out and shoot

I've found myself in bouts where I have a lack of motivation and a general disinterest for photography. At first, I thought the solution was taking a hiatus from shooting. The hiatus lasted from days to weeks and weeks to nearly a full year. Finally, I accepted that it wasn't working. It wasn't until I started posting again on Instagram regularly that I started to feel motivated and excited to take photos again. Make sure you have some sort of outlet for your photos.


When I finally gave myself a reason to shoot again, I was excited to take photos like the ones above.

 

6) Carry your camera with you, always

The feeling of seeing something spectacular and not having my camera to capture the moment is painful. Granted, it's important to let yourself be in the moment without always needing to "snap a pic", but keeping your camera close by gives you the ability to snap away when you want. It also ensures you're ready when those candid moments happen (like the one below).


Portrait of a boy with his dog in Santa Fe
 

7) Don't compare yourself to other photographers

I can't count the number of times I've checked out other photographer's Instagram pages and thought "shit" and, in discouragment, put my camera down. Remember that people only put their best photos on social media and that the more you practice, the better you get.

 

8) Accept that it takes time to get better and that everyone starts at step 1

Sometimes I forgot that everyone starts out at the same point. It can be daunting to see photographers with so much experience and such a diverse portfolio. Instead of getting down, remember that everyone has taken bad photos and most of those happen at the beginning.

Portrait of a girl at the Sandwich Fair in New Hampshire

I mean come on, a smoke bomb? We've all been there. (Thanks to my friend for letting me accidentally gas her and burn a hole in backpack)

 

9) Your edits are too unrealistic

It's easy to be carried away when you finally start editing your photos. If you stare at a photograph long enough, any change (however drastic) starts to looks normal. Make sure to make edits in small increments so that your photos don't suddenly take on a different dimension.

Portrait in New Hampshire on Lake Winnipesaukee in the winter with snow

No. My friend is not a vampire nor is she slightly green in real life.

 

10) Mix things up!

The times I've most looked forward to taking photos is when I try new ideas. When I see a new photograph or have a funky idea for my photo, that's when I'm most excited to take out my camera. Sometimes the photos don't turn out exactly as I hope, but the process made me happy (and at the end of the day isn't that all that matters?).


Four very different ideas. Four very different photos.