How Photography Can Be Ruined By Bad Habits

Leaving The Camera At Home

Even if it’s your smartphone the camera you have with you is always the best one. Not every photo you take will be of commercial value or be photography-competition material. Nevertheless, if you leave your camera at home what use is it having a DSLR with an optimum lens and huge megapixel count? Take it with you if you’re being serious.

Relying On A Single Memory Card

What will come back to bite you is the temptation to be frugal when you know that it is expensive to buy lots of those little storage cards, but, when you’re shooting that “money shot”– e.g. when the entire group is smiling at you, or when the light is just right– this is precisely the time that your memory card will fill up according to Murphy’s Law. Simply buying more memory cards is the remedy to this.

Not Backing Up Your Photos

Another dangerous habit is filling up those memory cards only to buy another to fill up with images and so on. Precious photos will be lost if you fail to back them up or put them on a hard-drive. But, what’s worse is having all your commercial photography work that, say, you’ve done over the past year being lost because your hard-drive fails too– the pain will be indescribable. We recommend that you store your photographs in three different locations just to be super-secure.


Chimping is the term that decribes constantly checking your images on the LCD display of your camera. If you’re at a party, or a wedding, or you’re into street photography then you might want to do this and there may be nothing wrong with it per se, however, the tendency of chimping leads to an engrossment of perfectionism that will ultimately hinder you from capturing that decisive moment!

Shooting From Eye Level

Holding the camera at head-height is a tendency of amateur shutterbugs. If you want predictable results this technique will always get you those, however. Learning to “work the scene” when shooting in a location is a must. Search for fresh angles by lying on the ground or dropping to your knees, for example. Aerial perspectives are also stunning. Remember that your feet are the best tool of composition.

Failing To Consider The Background

Your subject should always be in front of a simple background and that is something that you should be looking for. For example, avoid having a telephone pole (in the distance) that appears to protrude from a person’s head. Backgrounds can be blurred by depth-of-field and narrowed, which is a technique you can employ if you have a long lens. The trick is achieving a degree of separation to isolate your subject from the clutter beyond.

Centring The Subject

Ignore the rules of composition at your peril. In blissful ignorance, most folks like to place their focal point slap band in the middle, but it is better to use the Rule of Thirds to make a photo stand out. Or, by tilting your camera at an angle you can add extra dynamic. Landscape orientation versus portrait orientation are always worth considering before you take the photo to ascertain how different types of framing will affect your shot. Even a really wide panoramic crop could alter the sense of subject in positive ways.

Making Sure The Lighting Is Right

Fair-weather photographers will be the first to say that for capturing good images strong light is necessary, and back in the older days of film this was certainly the case. Lowlight situations can make a cause for taking good photos hopeless, especially if your equipment is a digital camera that can only recognise images in strong light situations. A white haze from a cloudy sky can completely wash out a picture whereas clear, blue skies will provide better framing for your shots. However, images may even lack form and not look three-dimensional if short shadows are cast by a harsh midday sun. Human subjects may squint into the sun, or blink. Sometimes it is better to pose people in the shade when it’s sunny like that because of phenomena such as the ugly “sun-dial” effect on people faces. It’s all about discerning how to use light in whatever situation you’re called upon to shoot your images. For example, for situations like waterfall scenes it would be mandatory to work with diffused light that is softer; landscapers should also be accustomed to working with these types of conditions. Blue skies may be great for clear light but they cannot give you that sense of foreboding that is introduced by thunderclouds overhead. Golden hour lighting will exude warmer tones and longer shadows.

Not Reading The Camera Manual

Let’s say you’re so eager to use your new gadget that the camera’s manual stays inside the plastic bag when you put the box away after buying your new camera. Now would be the time to dig out the manual and use a highlighter pen to attack it. Looks at each function of the camera and work through the manual diligently and methodically. You may find features you didn’t know existed!

Shooting On Auto

Shooting in Automatic mode will inevitably place restrictions on you and your photos may suffer as a result; again, this could be from not reading the manual. There is a lack of consistency to producing shots on Auto and although you can obtain some great results on these amazing modern cameras it is better to take control yourself. Items like Shutter or Aperture Priority are great semi-automatic shooting modes that the professional photographer should attempt to learn to use. Once these have been mastered the next step would be to be extra brave and shoot images on Manual.

Thinking That Post-Production Can Fix Everything

There’s no point being lazy. Blown-out highlights cannot be retrieved after a shot so it’s much better to get the correct exposure from shooting right in-camera in the first place. When cropping, or rotating, on a computer after you may find that you lose the edges of your images if the horizon was not straight to begin with so ensuring that you have taken this into consideration is paramount. There should either be a spirit level fitted on the hot shoe or a 3×3 grid on your LCD display to help you fix this during the shooting process. ND and ND Grad filters are worth buying if you are shooting landscapes. One filter whose effects cannot be replicated using software is the Polariser. The tedious job of all is being forced to clone parts of images out in Photoshop– better to do a bit of gardening and remove those distractions from a scene while on-the-job.

Shooting Only Jpegs

There is a certain amount of compression added to JPEGs for convenience. According to the camera’s presets, changes in colour, as well as the dynamic range of your photographs can be narrowed when shooting in this format and it can’t be undone. The more forgiving approach would be to choose the RAW file format to shoot in. When it comes to using computer software to edit images, those images can be more easily sharpened and things like colour and correct exposure can have their latitude altered when shooting in the RAW format. Think of RAW files as digital negatives, that need processing and fine tuning.

Posting Too Many Photos

An unsuspecting public has no need to be inflicted with blurry and badly exposed photos even despite the fact that all good photographers still take poor pictures from time-to-time. Carefully select only your best images, then process these on the computer. Submitting minor variations of the same shot can be a drawback so essentially you want to display a variety of images on social media and on online galleries but these should always be limited. Think quality not quantity!


Words by Elijah James (Content Marketer).