Common Mistakes Every Photographer Makes


You're guilty!—well, kind of. All photographers occasionally forget critical factors while shooting, and make mistakes. Here are some of the most common mistakes that most photographers are guilty of making, and how to learn from them.

Image by bgandy


Film Not Advancing

Have you ever loaded a roll of film into a camera and closed it up being absolutely sure that the film advance caught the film, only to see later on, to your horror, that this didn't happen? The shock kicks in: All that work that was spent trying to capture those memories, or those photos that were critical to the assignment—are all gone!

If you still shoot with film, try loading it and turning the advance wheel or lever. Close the back and turn the film rewind until you feel tension. Then shoot a photo—if the film advance turns then you know that you're in business.

These days, most people use SD or CF cards in their digital cameras. Just ensure that your card is unlocked before shooting, otherwise the camera won't let you take a picture.

Not Changing the Drive Mode

This is a common one: You press the shutter release, and an image isn't taken. Why? Because you've set the drive mode to a 10-second self-timer, and forgot to change it back to single or continuous-burst shooting.

It happens to the best of us. In the future, just remember to pay attention to all the information displayed in the viewfinder. Most people only read the exposure settings, but there is more info in that little box that is important. The universal symbol for the self-timer looks like a clock with either a two or ten right next to it to signify the delay.

Mode Dial Being Knocked Out of Place

There are many occasions where your mode dial can get jostled, changing your settings. Just when you're ready to manually change your settings, you realize that you're actually in Program mode and don't have the same versatility that you do in Manual mode.

The answer: Gaffer's tape! Simply tape the dial in place.

There are also cameras that eliminate this problem by forcing you to press a button, and then rotate a dial to change the mode. It can be one of the biggest pains ever.

ISO Setting Too High/Low

Photo by dmvdberg

Beginners will be the ones more prone to this particular mistake. I've had many people ask me why their images were so bright or so dark, and additionally, why they had to shoot at such slow shutter speeds. The first question that comes to mind usually is, "What is your ISO set to?"

ISO adjustment is something that beginner shooters need to keep in mind. Many people tend to remember to adjust only the shutter speed and aperture. ISOs are very important—almost to the point where they should really have their own dial.

For the layman, this is the sensitivity of your sensor or film to light. The lower the number (100), the less sensitive. The higher the number (1600), the more sensitive.

Exposure Compensation Too High/Low

Exposure compensation only happens in modes such as Program, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. Sometimes, when I'm shooting in Aperture Priority mode, I think that I'm shooting in Manual mode (my most commonly used mode), and thus I end up accidentally overexposing the photo. In reality, I'm adjusting the exposure compensation.

How do you remedy this? The only way is to remember which dial adjusts the corresponding setting. This is much simpler to do on cameras with one dial, such as the Rebel T2i, D3100 and K-r.

Having a Full Memory Card

If your camera has a higher megapixel count, then you probably have encountered this problem during a busier session. After shooting numerous photos, the camera's LCD screen tells you that the memory card is full. In this case, your options are either to delete photos or switch to another card.

Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone, but this happened to me at the first wedding I shot. It will be our little secret. Luckily, I realized it within a couple of seconds, and switched to another card.

Another alternative is to get an Eye-Fi card, which promises that you'll have endless memory.

Dead Battery

Just when you're ready to shoot while out at the family picnic, you realize that your battery is about to die, or that it's dead. This means that you'll have no photos (or videos) of your brother's impression of grandpa. For this reason, it's very important to monitor the battery life of any of your electronic devices.

A great tip is to always pack an extra battery, and while one is in use, charge the other. When you're out, try to have both batteries on you, if you can.

What mistakes were you guilty of ,and how did you fix them? Let us know in the comments below.

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Neglecting to set the White-balance properly.

OH, I have made my share of mistakes. Here are just a few of my most egregious:
1. When I was learning to shoot large format, I frequently would forget to stop the lens down to the desired aperture after setting the focus. Most of the negatives were not printable. Solution? As the old joke goes, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice!”
2. Dead batteries: Always be aware of what is (and what is NOT) in your camera bag! I went into a camera store last month and left deciding I didn’t need anything. WRONG! Went I was out shooting a couple of days later, I discovered the battery in my spot meter was dead and my backup battery was in a different camera bag! Solutions: always pick up staple supplies at every opportunity AND/OR duplicate basic supplies if you have different bags (backpacks for landscape or shoulder bag for tamer situations).  I also carry a Sekonic meter that does not require batteries-it really saved the day!
3. Although Photoshop makes this less of a problem, always check what is in the background before you push the shutter button!
Good light to all!

Shooting seascapes and forgetting to check the lens for mist!

Hate that. :)