Most Common Photographic Mistakes (Beginners Guide)

Most Common Photographic Mistakes (Beginners Guide)

Common mistakes

So, you’ve bought your new digital camera and now you can’t wait to get out there and start taking some photos. But just before you start snapping away, you might want to take a look at some of the most common mistakes made in photography so you can avoid making them.

Holding the camera incorrectly.

A simple tip such as holding your camera properly (as in the featured image above) will make a big difference to how your photos will turn out and will help to avoid camera shake. Of course the best way to avoid camera shake is to use a tripod, but if you don’t have one then you’ll need to know how best to hold your camera.

Holding your camera correctly will depend on the type of camera you have, but assuming you’re using a dslr  hold the right hand side of the camera using the camera grip, with your forefinger poised over the shutter release,  support the camera with your left hand by curling your hand around the base of the lens, keep your elbows tucked into your sides for better support, compose your shot, then take the picture, you can get better support if you lean against something solid such as a wall or a tree, or you could even try crouching down.

Cluttered scenes

Keep an eye on what’s going on through your viewfinder before you take the picture; is there anything there that could be distracting to the viewers eye? such as power-lines, ugly buildings or even people in the background. By simply moving to a different position or shooting from a different angle you can eliminate some or all the clutter for a better looking shot.

Under/over exposing

Another very common mistake is to produce images that are under-exposed (too dark with not much detail) or over-exposed (too light with a washed out appearance), many factors can course this; shutter speed, the iso setting or the cameras f/stop.

Even with your camera set to auto mode your photos can still look under/over-exposed. This can happen when, for example you’re taking a picture of someone on a sunny beach or in the snow, the cameras light sensor will meter for the brightest areas making the subject look dark and under-exposed, conversely, you may have the subject correctly metered and the sky looks washed-out and over-exposed.

However,  there are ways to prevent this happening. The most simple method could be by simply getting closer to your subject (or zoom in closer if you’re using a long focal length zoom lens), or you could use the exposure compensation button; this allows you to increase (brighter) or decrease (darker) the standard exposure set by the camera.

A more involved method would be to use bracketing;  in this mode the camera will take three (or more) shots at different exposure levels and can then be edited on the editing software that came with your camera or other software such as photoshop.

Above is a typical over-exposed image.

 Above is a typically under-exposed image.

Subject too far away

Too many times have we seen photographs where the main subject looks small and insignificant. Don’t be afraid to get in close to your subject, it will be more detailed and have a greater emotional impact, and as mentioned earlier, the image will look less cluttered and more pleasing to the eye.



Poor focusing

You can’t recover a badly out of focus shot after the event so it’s a good idea to take a little more time to get it right. Dslr’s have focus points (some more than others), if all these focus points are activated the camera will always focus on the closest subject even if you don’t want it to. If this happens to you, then try using manual focus to get your subject sharp in your viewfinder. Alternatively, just activate the centre focus point only, to get more control  on exactly where you want to focus.

Not knowing your camera

By of using your dslr in auto mode like a point and shoot compact, you’re missing out on your cameras true capabilities. If all the knobs and dials look a little  awesome to use then try using the pre-sets (program, av, etc) to start with. But most important of all; read the manual and then, hopefully you’ll begin to understand exactly what some of those knobs and dials are for.


To know more about composition check out our other post  ”Beginners guide to good composition in  photography”







Many thanks to   Biscarotte and pradeep kumbhashi  who allowed their images to be shared and also to Michael McDade @ William Antony Photography  for our featured image.