I keep seeing online articles trying to reel photographers in, regarding the things they should avoid when starting to get into photography.
As a self taught photographer, I believe there are things you must do wrong in order to notice them in the future and to know how to transform them into something amazing.
Yes, I agree, this can be stressful at times and it might even make you miss that one time shoot, but I guarantee you, it will make you a better photographer.
Shoot in JPEG
If you have been following other photographers and websites dedicated to the subject, you must have come across the never ending battle between JPEG and RAW files. (If you’re not sure what that is, I wrote an article about it here.)
Yes, I was telling you in that post to start shooting Raw, but being restricted by the file format, will make you think of your shoot in a different way. Having that safety net of a Raw file that can be transformed in post-editing will make you lazy with your photography.
My advice is to set yourself a challenge and shoot in Jpeg for a day or two, heck if you feel like making it really hard on yourself do it for a month even! Pay close attention to how your attitude towards taking images is changing in that time span and use that when you’re going back to Raw files (if you’ll do that again).
Having to shoot in Jpeg gives you less options in terms of the editing process after you took the image and it will pressure you into making sure you get the image as close to how you want it by just using the camera, settings and environment available.
Use the wrong settings
I know this one might not make a lot of sense at first, but you just need to bare with, and follow along.
If you go on google and search for something such as “best settings for…(insert here type of image)”, you will find an endless sea of articles, videos and people telling you what the right setting is for a particular shot.
I think that as a beginner photographer you can’t see yet how that is wrong on so many levels.
While I agree, some of the settings recommended will work in some cases, this will be very limiting to your journey as a photographer.
The reason why there’s no such thing as a set of settings to be used for particular shots is the light! Move one inch to your left and the light will change massively. hold your camera at a different angle and you got a different light, and so on.
If you search settings for portrait images, most likely you will find tons of articles that will suggest you use a low Iso, an open aperture (f 1.8- f4) and auto-focusing. This will work in some situations, but what happens if you are shooting in a low light environment and your lens won’t open so wide? What happens if your subject is moving quite a lot or if you want to focus on something else and the camera keeps focusing on the wrong spot?
Play around with the settings, take blurry, darker, brighter images and analyse your settings, see what happened, what went wrong and try again.
I do suggest looking up Ben Sasso on Instagram, as he has such a different and refreshing outlook on this subject, since I’ve discovered him I wish all of my images were a bit blurry!
There’s no such things as the perfect settings for a particular image, because our environment, camera and subject is different, not to mention how unique we are as individuals.
Use an old camera
Give yourself a challenge every now and again. Photography is not always about having a billion mega-pixels, a huge sensor and unlimited lenses at your disposal.
Go out with an older camera that you still have laying around, heck, even a film camera if you’re lucky to have a functional one around you.
In this era of technology everyone gets the impression that in order to create amazing photos you need to have the latest gear available.
Look at some famous photographers and their images. Some of the most acclaimed images were done with “regular” cameras. You need to understand that is not the gear you have but how you use it.
So challenge yourself to shoot with an older camera and get something out of it that makes you proud. It doesn’t have to be super sharp or perfect, the only thing that needs to happen is for that image to “bring you joy” (If I were to quote Marie Kondo 🙂 ), it just needs to mean something to you!
I’d love to find out how many of you will be trying to make these mistakes again, and would be so happy to talk to you guys about your process, so please, feel free to reach out to me, either here or on my Instagram account.