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This week’s Wisdom Wednesday is all about common mistakes that new (or even experienced) photographers make!


We all have to start somewhere. Every photographer started out by simply picking up a camera and giving it a go. Unfortunately, there is more than “giving it a go” to good photography! Here at Backdrop Outlet we see a LOT of photos from a ton of different photographers and we have noticed some common mistakes that seem to haunt many of them.

Keep in mind, these mistakes are not necessarily always bad! It is very possible to have amazing photos that may seem too blurry, or overexposed, or not using the rule of thirds. We simply see these techniques done far too often in the wrong way and mostly by accident.

So let’s check out our top ten mistakes photographers make!

1Taking blurry pictures!

When intentional, blur can be a great component to a photo. You just have to be sure you have complete control over the blurriness in your photography. For example, when taking a portrait photo, you want to make sure that the focus and sharpest part of the photo is on the eyes.

Tips for sharper photos:

  • increase the ISO sensitivity.
  • Make the shutter speed faster. Ideally your shutter speed should be at least 1/focal length. So if you are shooting at a focal length of 80mm with a full-frame sensor, your shutter speed needs to be at least 1/80 second. For a crop sensor camera such as APS-C, then an 80mm lens is equivalent to 120 or 130mm lens (80mm x 1.5 or 1.6 which is the crop factor). So your shutter speed needs to be at least 1/125s to avoid shake.
  • Turn on image stabilization either in-camera or on your lens which can allow you to shoot at a slightly slower shutter speed than the above rule specifies.
  • Use a tripod where possible.
  • Avoid shooting at very wide apertures like f/1.8 as this can affect the perceived sharpness of a photo, especially if focus is not spot on.

bad blur

Clear shakiness that is completely ruining the photo


good blur

Nice and crisp photo with the focus directly on the gorgeous eyes!


2They give up on using Flash.

Many photographers will mess around with their pop-up flash and notice that it creates a harsh and flattening effect. This will result in some of them immediately giving up on Flash as a whole.

An external off camera flash will open up so many possibilities for your photography. With this new external flash unit that is completely in your control, we believe it will change your mind on the usefulness of flash and really make your subjects shine!





You can check out some external flash set-ups on our site!

3Too much contrast!

Increasing the contrast with the camera (or in post) can at first look quite appealing. It can seemingly take a bland photo and turn it into a colorful wonderland! However, we strongly encourage you to not OVER contrast your photos as this will cause them to look fake and one dimensional.

It is also important to not add the same amount of contrast to all of your photos as the right amount will depend on the light levels. Perhaps try adding in a flash and underexposing your image a tad to see the difference it can make.


bad contast

Notice how all the colors are completely washed out and overpower the subject


good contasrt

We chose this photo because while there may be a lot going on, the photographer kept the photo’s tone down a bit by keeping the contrast low and balanced


4They are too far away.

For some reason we have noticed a pattern of photographers standing too far away from their photos and then zooming in to frame their shot. Always try to frame your shot without using zoom and throw on a wider lens so you have to get right up in there!

You can always seem to tell when a photo was re-framed in post and getting up close allows you to really feel out the photo.


bad distance

Simply too far away from the subject!


good distance

Nice and close to that adorable face


5Composition is off.

Composition is extremely important for a photo to have a nice flow and balance. The problem is that many photographers do not consider, or forget composition entirely during their shoots!

A good place to start is using the rule of thirds. Using lines to cut your image in thirds both horizontally and vertically will give you good guidlines of where to place your subject for a compelling image.

Don’t forget, you can always adjust your composition in post with selective cropping!




bad composition

The subject is directly in the middle of this wide angle shot making the photograph quite boring


good composition

With the subject following the rule of thirds with this wide angle shot you can see it instantly become a more intriguing photograph


6Using the wrong lens!

As discussed before, many photographers shoot too far away, and this often comes down to simply using the wrong lens. You should only be using a zoom lens when absolutely necessary! Usually you want to stick to a solid 50mm lens that forces you to move close to your subject.

It is also important to get a quality lens. Stock lenses will never get the job done! A good rule of thumb is to spend at least as much on your lens as you did your camera. Do not skimp on the lens and you will be amazed by how your photos turn out!


7Busy Photos!

Time and time again we see photos that just have too much going on. It is important to keep a picture interesting, but you want to keep your photography focused and digestible.

What we are really trying to say is, less is more! You want to create a composition where the eye is immediately drawn into your subject without much distraction. Make sure you are not using too many props or colors to achieve a nice balanced and succinct photograph.


bad busy

Very cute photo, but the background is completely conflicting and taking away from the subject



Nice simple backdrop to really make the subject the star


8Photos are low resolution.

First of all you want to make sure you are shooting in RAW format or a very large JPG. Too often a photographer will take their photos in a small JGP file in order to load up more photos into their camera.

It is important to take larger size photos (even if you need to get a couple memory cards!) because as you edit your photos and save them they will lose resolution. You can always downsize a photo but you can never upsize one, so always go with the safe bet of a large file size.


bad resolution

Look at those pixels! Yuck


good resolution

Ahhh, much better


9Photographs are not consistent.

While we believe it is important to have a large range, it is also important to develop your own style of photography. If you are spread too thin with your photos you will never become a master at one certain type of photography.

Keep your photos in specific groups to show your knowledge about a certain style. When people are looking for a “look” with their photos you want to be the person that specializes in it!

10Too many photos on display!

Lets face it, not every photograph we take is going to be amazing (No matter who you are!). It is beyond important to only release your best work.

It is very common for us to see hundreds of shots on display for a photographer when only about half are their best work. You never know if someone’s only impression of your photography is going to be one photo that you weren’t even happy with.

As always, we hope this installment of Wisdom Wednesdays was insightful and can propel your photography career to new heights! These mistakes are common place but at the same time pretty easy to fix with some practice and focus! Again, these are only examples of common mistakes and we encourage everyone to experiment and work outside the box if they wish.

We look forward to hearing your feedback so don’t be afraid to comment off to the right!

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Until Next Time

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