I remember when I was 16 and had just started photographing senior photos, someone commented on one of my photos with some constructive criticism. They said that in portraits, the eyes should always be tack sharp, and that I missed it in that shot. At first, I was hurt that someone had something negative to say. But after I thought about it, I knew that person was right and I was SO grateful they spoke up and said it to me. Without that comment, who knows how long it would have taken me to really nail down focusing on the eyes!
Over the years, I’ve noticed a few mistakes that I commonly see beginning photographers do. And since I learned so much from that one comment on my photo, I thought I would share some of those mistakes so that beginning photographers can watch out for them. They’re small things, but to me they are the biggest giveaways for a beginning photographer compared to a seasoned photographer. So, if you want to avoid those pitfalls, here are three mistakes no photographer should make!
Missing the Focus
Pay attention to your focus point. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a photo that was almost flawless, but the focus was on a random spot on someone’s shirt, or their arm, or even their nose and not their eyes. Of course, there are plenty of times where you may not want to focus on the eyes but will want to focus on something else. But always decide where you want to focus and nail it.
And no, you don’t have to use manual focus. I do this by using the spot focusing tool on my camera. Those focus points are there for a reason, so use them! And here’s a quick tip: for ring shots, try focusing on the prong of the ring that is closest to you. It will always look in focus if you do that! Ring shots are one of the only things I actually do use manual focus for so that I can really nail that focus point.
Having Crooked Photos
Never – I repeat – never take a portraits with a treeline, a beach, or any sort of clear horizon line without straightening the photo. If you aren’t shooting where you can see the horizon, pay attention to any leading lines in the photo or lines you can use as guides. If you’re shooting indoors or in front of a building, use those ceiling or roof lines and straighten to those lines. Windows, door frames, and wall corners are also great guides to use to straighten your photo. Whatever you do, just make your photo straight! I, myself, am notoriously bad at taking straight photos. So what do I do? I straighten them in my editing. There’s no excuse!
Not Thinking About Lighting
Last but most definitely not least, think about your light! Look for clean light without color casts outdoors. If shooting indoors, use your flash well or look for window light and have your subjects face the window. Backlighting is not cool unless it’s a moody bridal portrait or silhouette shot or something where you have another light source illuminating your subjects. I’ve seen so many poorly lit photos for no good reason. Sometimes where the photo would have looked so much better if they had just turned the other direction. If you’re not happy with the colors, or the lighting looks weird, move to another location. Always always always think about your light! If you want more help with outdoor lighting, check out my post on My Top 3 Outdoor Photography Lighting Tips.
Those are my top 3 mistakes no photographer should make. Are there any that you would add to the list? Comment below and let me know!!
If you want help with lighting or anything else, I’d love to hop on a coaching call with you. Sign up by visiting christijohnsoncreative.com/strategy.
Follow me on Instagram: @christijohnsoncreative
If you want more figuring out how to blend your passions, your callings, and your business into a cohesive vision for your life, Check out my Freedom to Flourish Membership Community.
Read More Posts:
- Mastering Long Form Sales Page Basics
- How I Went from Wanting to Quit My Business to Tripling My Revenue in A Few Months
- How to Integrate Your CRM with Other Essential Tools
- Project Plans and Teams: A Guide for Creative Entrepreneurs
- Why I’m Loving Airtable as a Business Owner