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Embarrassing photography mistakes to avoid

May 4, 2017

As a beginner, you are bound to make plenty of mistakes. Even as a seasoned pro, you can make the odd blunder now and then. But there are some mistakes that are so embarrassing, you need to take urgent steps to avoid them. Here are the most embarrassing mishaps that you should guard yourself against from the start!

Lens cap blunders

Now, we’ve all been there. You raise the camera to your eye. You look through the viewfinder. There’s nothing to see! You change your settings, you even try taking a photograph, but nothing happens. Is it broken? Well… no. You’ve just left the lens cap on. Even though it can happen to the best of us, it really makes you look and feel like an amateur. You can avoid this by simply being more mindful. Be aware of your equipment and know what state it is in at all times. Is it turned on? Is the lens cap on? Is it plugged in to your lighting equipment or computer? Always be mindful, and you won’t have this kind of embarrassing mistake. If it does happen, the best you can do is laugh it off.

Using on-camera flash

The pop-up flash on most DSLRs is, in almost all circumstances, worse than useless. It creates a very harsh and unflattering light, accompanied by deep shadows which can throw the whole image out. In short, the flash attached to your camera looks like something an amateur would use. Don’t be tempted to use it, particularly not in photoshoots with models. Instead, you should invest in an off-camera light source, such as a flashgun. You can even attached it to your camera again – but just don’t rely on that pop-up light. It’s very difficult to fix the effects it provides in post-production. What’s more, you shouldn’t be put off using flash because of the way the pop-up looks. You can get much more flattering results with a flashgun.

Missing the focus

One of the worst situations to be in as a photographer is to be looking at a full shoot’s worth of images that you can’t use at all. You have to let someone down – hopefully it isn’t a client, but it’s bad enough if it was just a test shoot with a friend. In the cases where your images aren’t in focus, you simply didn’t do your job as a photographer. Know the way your focus works inside and out so you can get those sharp images. You should ensure that you are using the right focus mode so that you don’t miss out on the images. You also need to be sure that you are using the right shutter speed – blur could be introduced by the movement of the camera as you press the shutter.

Getting the ISO wrong

Your ISO is so important. It’s something that you should be checking every time you turn your camera on, before you take a single photograph. It controls everything. You could end up with a lot of your photos being far overexposed if you leave it on too low, and you could have grainy photographs if you have it set too high. It’s easy enough to forget to change your settings after you finish shooting. The important thing is not to forget to change them when you start again. Just like getting the focus wrong, this could ruin a whole batch of images.

Losing images

Again, it can be very awkward and embarrassing when a client is waiting for images that you simply don’t have anymore. Where did they go? It’s likely that you did one of these things: you lost a memory card; you deleted them by accident; your hard drive was wiped. Follow best practices to avoid the risk of losing photographs. As soon as you get home from your shoot, upload them directly to your computer. When you have them uploaded, back them up immediately. After you finish editing, back those edits up as well. There’s no excuse for losing images through one of these incidents. While this isn’t 100% fail proof – for example, you could lose your computer and backups in a fire or flood – it does mean you are doing the minimum to keep those images safe.

Not doing post

One of the most basic things that every photographer should be doing is adjusting their images in post-production. With so many easy tools to do this – Photoshop and Lightroom being a couple of the best – there’s no excuse for not doing it. Images taken direct from camera are never perfect. There’s always a tweak needed: perhaps to the levels, to the contrast, or so on. Even if you don’t want to edit a thing about the image, you still have a duty to make it look its best. Flat and lifeless images are a hallmark of a beginner, and will always mark you out as one.

Having dirty equipment

If you have a bit of dust or dirt on your lens, or inside your camera, it’s easy to shrug it off. Particularly if you think it will be expensive to clean, you might not bother doing anything about it. But the spots on your image could ruin every picture you take until you get it cleaned. These eyesores won’t go away until you do something about them. To prevent them from appearing in the first place, be careful with your equipment. Use lens caps and ensure that your lenses also have the opposite end covered if not in use. When swapping lenses, do it quickly and in a sheltered environment – the beach is not the place to do it, for example. A single speck of dirt or sand could be an expensive mistake.


Avoid these embarrassing mistakes and you will make more of a professional impression. What’s more, you will be free from those awkward conversations as you explain to someone else what went wrong!

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