avoid common photo mistakes
learn from examples of bad photography

Have you made any photo mistakes?  I feel your pain, because I've taken my share of bad photos and made plenty of goofs relating to digital photography.  No worries, help is one the way.


Digital Photo Mistakes -Why don we all make so many of them

Here is a list of the most common photo mistakes people make. Below this list you will find detailed photography tips on how to avoid each of these photography blunders.


Photo Mistakes - Checkmark





blurry photo mistake

Blurry pictures and bad photo compositions are two of the biggest reasons why you are going to see a bunch of examples of bad photography.

Blurry Photos can occur from three main causes. The first reason many photos come out blurry is movement of the subject or of the camera during exposure. Sometimes is is only slight and the photo is only a little unsharp. This is very common mistake amateur photographers make with photos.


"You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can't possibly live long enough to make them all yourself."      

                                                                                                                           Sam Levenson


Want to share your worst photography mistake to this page? We can learn a lot from each others mistakes. Then go to the bottom of this page.

The second blurriness problem is usually caused by accidentally fooling the camera's auto focus. You're going to learn how to trick the auto focus into working the right way for you. The third cause of blurry photos is a dirty camera lens.

  1. There are a few ways to combat blurry pictures caused by camera or subject movement. A fast shutter speed will stop blurry photos from occurring whether it's from camera movement or from the subject moving during the exposure.Try using a tripod or a monopod to stabilize your camera. Steadying the camera by bracing it against a stationary object will also help blurriness caused by movement. If this is a big problem for you, get detailed help by going to the Avoid Blurry Pictures page.
  2. Monopods are probably one of the most useful yet under-used pieces of photography equipment. You can avoid some of the blurry photo mistakes if you learn how to use a monopod.

  3. Understanding how a camera's auto focus works will prevent blurry photos caused by focusing problems. Most auto focusing cameras use the center of the viewfinder to set the focus. Sometimes this is the wrong thing to do.
Using the center-weighted focus mechanism can be a photo mistake
  1. In photo 1 above, the blue oval shows the area used to focus with a center-weighted focusing system. Photo 2 shows that the camera focused too far in the background because none of the the bears were included in the center focusing area.In Photo 3, I aimed the focusing area at one of the bears first, pressed the shutter button halfway and then recomposed the picture before pressing the shutter button the rest of the way down. This "locked" the focus on my subject and resulted in a sharp, focused photo.

  2. The third problem occurs when you have dirt, condensation or a smudge on your camera lens. Keep special lens tissue handy and use it carefully. Your picture quality depends on the quality and condition of the lens. The light has to travel through your lens to get to the camera sensor.If you are shooting in cold weather, keep your camera warm. A cold camera coming into warm moist air will cause lens fogging. Blowing your hot breath on the camera lens was actually a technique in the olden days for creating a soft focus effect. Now if we want to soften the focus just a bit, we do it when we do our photo editing.

bad composition

Here is a good example of bad photo composition. I set my coffee mug on my work bench in my office. 

Example of Bad Composition

Simply by habit and without thinking, many photographers typically shoot pictures while holding their camera in a horizontal position. For this subject, this is Photo Mistake #1.

Another common mistake is not to fill your frame with your subject. The photograph on the right is a much better picture. The mug is vertical, so the vertical format looks much better. Zooming in closer also eliminated the distracting sunlight on the table and eliminated the excessive space around the mug. Learn more about better Photo Composition.

choosing a bad photography background

Back Composition becasue of a very Distracting Background

This is photo mistake #3.

Usually this is best handled by moving the camera or moving your subject to a different spot. In this photo of the dog, you can barely see her head.

There is poor visual separation of her head from the dark background.

In addition to that mistake, the green plastic and the wooden boxes are distracting in the background.

Learn how to look through your camera's view finder and observe the background in addition to just framing in your subject properly. Then, it's simply making an adjustment of your subject or your camera.

Corrected Mistake - Better background

Look how much better this looks than the one up above. Same dog. Same back yard, just a different background and better lighting.

The next mistake made by photographers, Red-Eye Reflections is very common.

red eye reflections

Red eye is caused by the reflection of light off the back surface of the eyeball. When it's dark, our pupils are dilated. This allows more light to enter the eye and reflect back out of the eye. This is a problem when the light is provided by the camera's flash. It reflects directly back to the camera at the same angle and appears red.

The blue line in the diagram below shows the light made by the camera's flash traveling to the subject. The red line is the reddish reflection from the eye heading back to the camera's sensor.

Diagram of Red-Eye and how it happens

How to get rid of Red Eye Reflections

  1. Don't use the camera's flash. It's too close to the lens.
  2. Get more light on your subject, so her pupils constrict. That's the theory behind those annoying "red eye reduction" pre-flashes. The red eye reduction camera setting may help a bit but, usually the main result of using that camera function is bad expressions on your subject's face.
  3. Turn on room lights if possible or move your subject closer to a window.
  4. Use an off-camera flash. This may not be possible with many point and shoot camera's. I use a professional bracket that raises the flash unit high above the camera. This changes the angle of reflection and I never have to worry about this photo mistake.

using the wrong camera setting

Setting the Camera Settings wrong is a Common Photography Mistake

This mistake is made when you don't understand what each camera setting does. Many people take the easiest route and choose Auto or Program. This is okay if you want to be like everyone else.

If you want to take better digital photos, then learn what the camera settings do. Reading the your specific camera instructions before you start shooting is the smart thing to do. It's the best photo tip I can give you. For more information, go to: Digital Camera Settings

Even professional photographers are guilty of making mistakes when taking pictures. I know I have made many. If you want to know what my worst camera mistakes have been, click here: My Photo Mistakes


Another way to avoid common photography mistakes:  Photography Books

pixelation

Photo Mistake Pixelation

Pixelation isn't a real word but it does describe a typical photo mistake that amateurs make.

Pixelation occurs when you try to print a big picture from a small file.

In my opinion, you should never, ever use anything but the highest quality setting on your camera.

You can always reduce the size of a photo when you are doing your editing. If you use a reduced quality setting on your camera, you are ruining what may be a great photo for enlarging later.

The photo on the right of my model shows a lower quality setting. I re-sized it to have the same dimensions of the high quality photo on the left. Clearly a mistake to use a low quality setting.

bad photo exposure

The most common photo mistake involving exposure is usually underexposed photographs. The small built in flash units that come with point and shoot cameras are not very powerful.

Depending on those wimpy, under-powered flashes to get a good exposure can be a mistake.  Camera accessories, like good Photography Lighting Equipment will take care of under-exposure.

Once you get a few basic photo tips on shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings, everything will start to make sense to you. Reading other articles about lighting on this digital photo tips web site will help too. Learn more about Photo Exposure..

Even the pros make common photo mistakes occasionally. Paying attention to how these mistakes are made will help you become a better photographer. Learning from your own mistakes is the best way to learn anything.

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One way to avoid the mistake of bad exposure is to use your camera's histogram. What is a histogram you ask. Find out more by clicking on What is a Histogram?

Another big photography-related mistake is using a bad photo for your LinkedIn profile picture.  Here area a few simple, but very important Tips for LinkedIn Photos.

Also related are the LinkedIn Photo Mistakes people make and how many LinkedIn members don't even realize how much it's costing them to have a bad profile picture.

Explore this digital photo tips web site for answers to all of you questions on how to stop making mistakes and learn how to take better pictures.

Want to add one of your worst photo mistake stories to this page, then do it right here:

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Wedding photo mistake 
One of my fraternity brothers was getting married. He asked me to take pictures for him and his bride. This was back in the day of 35mm film photography. …

Film didn't wind 
I was the "official" photographer for my friend's wedding when were students at Penn State University. I had my Minolta camera loaded with film. After …

Racoon ate my storage card 
When on vacation in the Smokey Mountains I left my digital camera storage card out on the picnic table and the local raccoons stole it and ate it. I never …

Jaundice 
I was asked to take pictures of people in my church to raise money for the youth group. I am going to school for photography, therefore, still learning. …

Bird of Prey 
"I was walking with my fiancee in a park in central Missouri. As we walked through an area that had been recently tilled, I notice a large bald eagle …

Portrait Photography Mistake 
I was approached to do a family portrait on the beach. The family was celebrating a wedding anniversary and was having dinner at 4:00 in the afternoon. …

Mistake to choose digital camera based on CCD vs. CMOS sensor. 
It is now a mistake to choose the kind of digital camera you wish to buy based on whether it's a CCD or a CMOS sensor. In the early days of digital …

Blury Nightmares  
While photographing a little league baseball job. I was shooting the singles and my colleague (employee) was shooting the team photos. After the 5th team …

Photo mistake of using the wrong color setting on my digital camera 
I was taking pictures outside of our local high school before a basketball game, so I set my camera setting on daylight. Then I went inside to do take …

Dead camera batteries 
I was all set to take pictures of fireworks in my home town at our annual 4th of July celebration. I had been taking pictures of all the people playing …

Tennis Senior Photo Day 
=Getting ready to take my son's senior tennis photo, when the camera beeps at me. I attempted to take the photo again and it did the same thing. Thinking …

Autofocus turned off 
I was taking pictures of a family party and it was a dark room. My camera was not focusing right because the subject was too dark and I guess when things …

bad exposure on moon photo Not rated yet
Photographing the moon is easy, if you know a few things beforehand. I made the mistake of trying it on my own without doing at least a little research …

buying an expensive camera Not rated yet
It's a mistake to think your photography will automatically get better from a buying a new expensive camera digital camera. "It's the skill of the magician …

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