Photography is a complex thing that requires a combination of technical skill, creative vision and (if you’re a professional) business acumen to succeed, making it easy to fall prey to pitfalls that can derail you along the way. road. Here are five subtle mistakes photographers make that can negatively affect their experience, images, or career.
Emotional connection with images
Photography can be a deeply personal activity for many of us, and there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it can give us the passion and drive to continually push ourselves to become better at our craft. After all, we should all enjoy the process of creating images. If not, why are we doing this in the first place?
It can be a double edged sword, however. This becomes a problem when we allow emotion to override our ability to objectively assess the quality of our images. For example, let’s say there is a park near where you grew up, a park in which you have created countless memories. It may not be remarkable or very different from thousands of other similar parks, but for you it is special.
Now let’s say you capture a beautiful sunrise there one day. For you, this image can be really special, something that evokes feelings and memories of an important place. But for other viewers who don’t share those experiences, it’s just a landscape image. And because of that, if you want to share it with the world or sell it, it has to stand on its own, which means you have to be acutely aware of your own bias when evaluating it.
I was guilty of it for a long time. I let photos of people I loved or places that held memories override my ability to be objective about image quality, and it hurt both my professional standing and my growth in as creative. I finally solved the problem by implementing a simple rule: if I had to explain an image to justify it, it was not worth showing outside of my private collection.
Working for an unsustainable salary
This is the one that appeals to many beginner photographers. To be clear, this is not to say that you should only try to accept high level prizes when you haven’t progressed to that level. Rather, it’s aimed at photographers who are pricing themselves at levels that simply aren’t sustainable.
People do this in hopes of building up a loyal following when they raise their prices to more reasonable levels. The problem with this is that a customer you get by offering basement prices is not likely to be loyal to you. Rather, they are likely customers who are simply buying at the lowest price, and when you no longer offer that, they will switch to whoever does.
Instead, you should aim to start at prices that match your skills and experience (which is why you should wait until you’ve acquired good skills to start charging) but are sustainable, and then increase them as you go. as your skills, portfolio and experience grow. It’s better to have five loyal customers than 50 who are only with you because you’re the cheapest in the neighborhood. It’s a lot less work too.
The old classic. Still, it’s worth saying. That’s not to say gear doesn’t matter. This is a vast oversimplification. The truth is, gear matters. Better equipment can produce better image quality, make editing easier, and may even allow you to get shots that wouldn’t otherwise be possible.
However, we tend to make two mistakes about this. First, we overestimate how often we really need new equipment to have the ability to get a certain picture. More often than not, what we really need is to work on our technique. Be brutally honest with yourself. Have you really maxed out your camera’s capabilities, or would a little practice solve the problem?
The second mistake we often make is to overestimate the importance of improving image quality. Generally, more expensive cameras and lenses will produce better images. no one disputes it. The question is: how important is it? If you typically only post to Instagram or the web, you don’t need mountainous amounts of megapixels or clinically sharp lenses. Better image quality is always nice, and more resolution can help, but think carefully about where your images end up and whether they will actually benefit from the extra resolution, larger sensor, etc. Ask yourself if your post-processing style really requires more dynamic range.
Filming for the approval of others
Social networks have been a real driver of this phenomenon. Instead of exploring their interests and developing a unique creative voice, photographers chase trends and popularity. Find any popular hashtag or location on Instagram to see what I mean. Or check out Insta Repeat.
If you’re an amateur, the only person you have to answer to is yourself. And you’ll find photography much more satisfying if you shoot and edit the way you want instead of chasing after likes and follower counts. There’s nothing wrong with using emulation as a learning tool, but make sure it doesn’t become a substitute for developing a creative voice.
If you are a professional, guess what? You still don’t respond to random people on social media, only your customers and yourself. And while it may benefit you to stay on top of mainstream trends in case a client asks, ultimately they hire you because they’re drawn to your unique creative voice, which is why so many professionals preach on the importance of personal projects.
“Your first 10,000 photos are your worst”, said Henri Cartier-Bresson. It takes a long time to take 10,000 photos. It takes a long time to become a proficient photographer, and it can be daunting. If you’re tempted by shortcuts, there’s a reason so many popular photographers sell presets.
The problem is that shortcuts like purchased presets rarely produce the results you’re looking for, and worse, they don’t teach you how to look at an image and how to get it where you want it, making you dependent on others. . tools instead of your own skills.
That’s not to say there aren’t legit shortcuts out there, though. For example, editing actions can make you more efficient by automating tedious repetitive tasks. But before considering any shortcut, you need to ask yourself two questions: “Would I consider doing what this shortcut does without it, and could I do it manually?” Only if you can answer “yes” to both questions should you then use the shortcut.
These are five common mistakes that I have seen in others and made many times. Have you noticed any others?