We have all experienced mistakes in our quest to be better photographers. It’s part of the process. Some mistakes will be made again, while others have completely changed the course of our photography journey. Our contributors share the photography mistakes that they’ll never make again.
The biggest photography mistake I made was not learning what white balance was when I first started. I could see that my images looked yellow but I had no idea how to fix this. Since my white balance was off my photos looked more like snapshots than the portraits I was hoping to capture. But once I figured out how to use white balance, I saw a drastic change in my photos. I personally use Kelvin for white balance as it is an option my camera has and I find it is the easiest for me to set on the go.
Read more: How to use Kelvins for white balance
When I was first starting out with photography, I made the mistake of only photographing during the brightest times of the day. I found myself opening blinds and getting my indoors to be as bright as possible, otherwise choosing not to photograph at all. While that created some beautiful images, I wasn’t being fair to the beauty that low light offers. I was completely ignoring the magic that occurs when light is limited. Now, I find myself giving low light an opportunity to wow me and create compelling images. Today, some of my favorite images took place in a setting that only offered a sliver of light.
It is super challenging to write that I will never make this mistake again, but I am actively striving towards avoiding it. One of biggest mistakes I have made over the years of learning photography is comparing myself to others. This is especially hard when you are a part of the online world or have an account on Instagram, Facebook, or any other photo sharing type social media site.
It is so easy to see a brilliant photograph that makes you second guess one you just posted that you were proud about sharing. But, what we don’t know is any of the behind the scenes on those brilliant photos. We don’t know how many years or hours that person has spent learning and perfecting their craft. We don’t know if they woke up at 3:00 am to hike 10 miles to get a stunning vantage point as the sun came up.
So instead of comparing myself to others and wishing I could make stronger more impactful photos like the ones I think they are creating, I make the choice to celebrate the beauty they were able to capture and give a silent thank you to them for putting it out there in the world for me to enjoy.
When I find myself comparing, I think, what is it that I love about that photo? Is there a takeaway from that photo I can use in my own photography, like the light or the creative choices or the composition? What can I do to improve my own photography? Now when I find myself starting to compare my photography with others, I work towards celebrating the successes of others and pushing myself forward toward my own goals.
My biggest mistake was not knowing the difference between imitation and inspiration. When it came to creating my own images after seeing other’s work I would often find myself imitating them. Sometimes, it can be a very fine line to walk. Taking images, and directly copying what the original artist did is pretty frowned upon in this industry. I’ve since taken the time to slow down and think about what it is with these images that is moving me. Then, if it’s a direction I want to take for myself, I try to put my own spin and heart into it. Something that makes it mine. And most importantly, crediting back to the original artist- even if just for inspiration- is ALWAYS a good move.
Here is an example from a couple of years ago when I knocked off one of the images from the fabulous Laura Penley. Thank goodness her kindheartedness. She’s now a good friend and I’ve learned a lot from her over the years since.
When I look back on my photography journey, I have so many mistakes I wish I could take back. The biggest would be losing focus on what truly inspires me. With so many incredibly talented photographers and their social media feeds, it became easy to second guess what my focus should be. I now have a picture on my desktop to remind me to capture more of what inspires me instead of focusing on what others doing.
Thinking the Grass was greener on the “other side”. Early in my photography journey, I was a member of a forum where it seemed like everyone was jumping ship and going with Canon. I thought if I could switch, I could “have creamier skin tones” “better WB” etc…but after a while I realized that the pool of people I was comparing myself to was relatively small. Over time, I learned more about my camera, editing, growing my skills (and the pool grew) and realized that I am in love with my gear and would never consider switching!!!! So moral to the story. The grass isn’t greener. Concentrate on yourself and rock what you have.