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Common Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Mrunal Belvalkar
Lack of knowledge about photography tips, tricks and pitfalls can lead you into clicking fail pictures! Find out about the common photography mistakes that you should avoid and make your photography foolproof!
Photography is an art. It is also a science - but it is more of an art. Even someone who doesn't understand the technique of photography, or the science behind how a picture actually gets captured on a camera, can still learn to click a good picture.
However, for someone who is new to photography, the common pitfalls may prevent you from overcoming the initial roadblocks. Let's see some common photography mistakes and how to avoid them.

How Do We Perceive Pictures

Have you ever noticed how you look at a picture? Usually when you look at a picture, you first look at a particular point in the picture; then your gaze moves around the point (clockwise or anti-clockwise), so that you take in the entire picture.
With some pictures (usually landscape pictures) you look at the entire picture at once, as you would at an actual landscape. With some pictures you tend to focus on a point and then 'zoom-out', just like a camera would (close-shots of flowers, insects).
Finally, sometimes you look only at the main subject and your gaze kind of tends to cut out the rest (as in head-to-toe shots of people). You would have to be told there is a painting hanging on the wall behind the person; you wouldn't notice it on your own. And what when we cannot follow any of these patterns? We 'feel' like it is a bad picture.
This is exactly what constitutes a bad picture. Our brain is tuned into perceiving things in a certain way, and when something falls out of the boundaries of this perception preset, we cannot comprehend it, we do not understand it, and we call it bad.
When you grab onto this fact, you will have already understood half of your mistakes on your own! These tips are common to traditional as well as digital photography.

Common Photography Mistakes


The composition of a good photograph lies in the content of the picture as well as the proportion of three main constituents of a picture - the foreground, the subject and the background.
It is important that the subject occupy a bigger portion of the picture than the rest of the things. The foreground should be minimal. The background should be either plain, or it can be put out of focus; so that the focus of the viewer is drawn to the subject.
There is no mathematical value to 'how much' portion of the picture should the subject occupy - but say about 85% of the picture is good enough. While clicking pictures where you also want to highlight the background, try experimenting with the position of the subject in the picture - the subject need not always be in the center.

Level Of Camera

The level of the camera should be at the level of the subject and NOT at your eye level! While clicking a puppy, go down on your knees; while clicking a flower, go closer to the flower, while clicking a tall person stand on a platform!
Unless creatively intentional, changing the angle between the subject and the camera is going to make the picture look really weird. A short person may look towering if clicked from a slightly lower level than the face of the person. This would also make a slim person look a lot healthier.
Sometimes however, the effect produced by playing around with the angle at which a picture is clicked can add to the aesthetic value. But unless it does, it is simply going to mess with a good picture. Avoid.

Using Flash

Always prefer to click pictures in natural light.
The best time to click a picture outdoors in the morning is say about 2 to 3 hours after sunrise, and in the evening is about 2 hours before sunset. Why? The daylight at these times of the day is uniform. It is not directional, focal, too harsh or direct. Rest assured, your pictures will turn out lovely.
As for night photography, make sure you turn on more number of lights in the room (at least for the duration when you will be clicking pictures) so that the place is adequately and uniformly lit. If that is not possible, you can play around with the exposure time for better results. But avoid using the flash.
The simple reason is - flash throws light on only that part of the picture that the flash is pointed at, so that the already dark background appears darker, and fair people appear whiter, like they've just seen a ghost!

When To Go Black-n-White

The tips and tricks of black and white photography are far different from those of color photography. But one general rule that applies is - landscapes look unflattering in black and white mode, while portraits and macro focus pictures look equally awesome.
Just because you like black and white photography does not mean any and every picture clicked in black and white mode is going to look good. Same goes for sepia mode photography. Architecture pictures look beautiful in sepia, but portraits not so pretty.
Earlier photography was black and white by default. But black and white photography has now transformed into an aesthetic technique rather than being a mere limitation. It will take more experimenting than color photography to understand how it works. Give time.

Common Photography Misconceptions

A Good Picture Needs An Expensive Camera

FALSE! Even an ordinary 3.1 megapixel camera can be used to click a good picture. You need not necessarily have a digital SLR camera for that! Get rid of this concept as soon as you can.
Yes a good camera will give you good picture quality, but just because the market now offers a 12 megapixel camera does not mean your 3.1 megapixel camera has lost its capacity to click good pictures!

Only A Professional Can Click Good Pictures

WRONG! There are pictures of amateur photographers that would put professionals to shame!
No doubt having formal knowledge about photography helps you click good pictures, but not everyone wants to be a professional photographer, right? Just want to be able to click good pictures at birthday parties and get-togethers; and you definitely do not need a professional for such occasions (although if you getting married, hire the best one you can!).

Photography Is Not DIY

NEGATIVE! You can totally Do-It-Yourself - photography can be DIY too. Impossible is nothing. You can always learn photography on your own; and become a professional photographer, too. And all this could start in your backyard with a basic camera.

There's Always Photoshop

BAD! Yes there's always Photoshop to correct a bad picture. But why click a bad picture to begin with? Using Photoshop creatively is different from using it to hide your inadequacies. Learn and develop on your skills before you master Photoshop.
Like all things that makes stuff easy, Photoshop is heavily addictive! It's like learning how to use a computer because you hate writing. Avoid.
As mentioned earlier, photography is an art. So do not learn it entirely by the book. You should first experiment with any kind of art - writing, sketching, music. Explore it. Form a picture of it on your own through your experiences before you consult someone. For art learned like this is in its purest form.
The minute somebody tells you a technique, or an approach to learn an art, you limit yourself to it. If you are a writer, then learn to write on your own. If you followed what your school-teacher had told you, each piece of your writing would be all same - technically correct, but aesthetically redundant.
So first get the hang of what constitutes a good picture. And then go into the science of it. Approach any art like this, and you are sure to be revered as an artist one day! All the best!