Posts Tagged ‘avoid’

6 Mistake to Avoid When You’re Starting Out in Photography

15 Jan

Like most hobbies or professions, every photographer started out somewhere. This usually means they also made mistakes along the way from which they have learned.

The thing to remember is that everyone makes mistakes – even seasoned pros might on the odd occasion get things wrong, but the key is to learn from your mistakes and move on. As you become more experienced the mistakes will get less and less, but in the meantime, here are six mistakes to avoid when you’re just starting out in photography.

6 Mistake to Avoid When You're Starting Out in Photography

#1 – Avoid Skipping Over the Camera Manual

I often get asked if I have any advice for people starting out in photography and my first tip is to read the camera manual cover to cover. Even now, whenever I upgrade my camera I always read the manual a couple of times. Besides the fact that your camera is the tool you need to use to capture photos so you need to understand how to use it, the manual also has a wealth of information about photography.

Set yourself a task of reading each part over and over again until you understand it, then practice it using your camera until it becomes second nature to you. In an instant, you should be able to change settings, focus points, review images, and so on.

Cameras these days offer so many possibilities and you can only use your camera to its full potential if you know and understand everything about it.

6 Mistake to Avoid When You're Starting Out in Photography

#2 – Avoid Blaming Your Gear

Every new photographer has probably at some point early on in their photography journey said the words, “If only I had a better camera I could take better photos”. While better cameras allow you to take better photos by giving you more control, bigger image sizes, less noise, etc., that alone will not make you a better photographer and thus make you capture better photos.

A good photograph requires that many elements come together and regardless of the camera that you have, a boring or uninspiring subject will still be boring and uninspiring even shot with the latest high-end camera.

If you really want to improve your photography, first you need to improve the creative and visual elements. Things like being able to light the scene or subject nicely, compose/frame your image correctly and actually find interesting opportunities to photograph. Once you have mastered these parts, your photos will look better regardless of the camera you are using.

6 Mistake to Avoid When You're Starting Out in Photography

#3 – Avoid Skipping the Theory Parts of Learning

Like most things, the more you practice photography the better you will become. It’s easy to forget that there is actually some science and theory behind photography.

Now while you don’t need to understand every intricate part of the theory (unless you want to) and be able to recite color temperatures off by heart, it still does help if you know some of the basics. It can help you in your photography, but also it can give you an indication of the limitations of modern day DSLRs.

The great thing is that there is tons of information about photography online these days and you can learn as much or as little as you want to, at your own pace, in your own time.

6 Mistake to Avoid When You're Starting Out in Photography

#4 – Avoid Comparing Yourself to Others

When you are starting out in photography there will always be a part of you that looks at your work and compares it to other people’s. While you should always look at other photographer’s work and be influenced by those who you admire, trying to compare yourself to others is not only a pointless exercise but it might actually be detrimental to your long-term success.

You will find yourself trying to copy other people rather than developing your own style which is what can help you and your photos stand out from the crowd. So don’t get consumed by comparing your work to others, view other people’s work with admiration but never envy.

6 Mistake to Avoid When You're Starting Out in Photography

#5 – Not Being True to Yourself

One of the great things about photography is that you could send a brief to multiple photographers and they will all likely come back with different work. Whether it’s in their interpretation, their vision or their style – the key is that their work will all probably look different even if that difference is subtle. It’s this uniqueness that makes photography such a wonderful art form to be involved in. But all of those photographers have one thing in common and that is that they stay true to their own way of working.

Sure, at times you’ll have to adapt when working for clients on a brief, but when photographing for yourself, there should always be a synergy in your work. If you want a test to see if you have developed your own style, lay out a whole load of your photos on a table. You should immediately see a connection between them. If you don’t, then ask yourself why and try to understand what is different.

6 Mistake to Avoid When You're Starting Out in Photography

#6 – Not Doing What You Love

Most photographers will tell you that they absolutely love what they do, and they wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

If photography is a hobby for you, why would you want to photograph something you don’t enjoy? Most people get into photography with a part of it that they really enjoy. For some, it’s travel images, for others, it might be food or weddings. Some people like shooting wildlife photos and others like sports photography.

Whatever your passion is, you’ll be far better off focusing on the things you love photographing rather than things you don’t enjoy as that passion will likely be shown in the quality of your work.

6 Mistake to Avoid When You're Starting Out in Photography


While this may seem like an obvious list, it’s incredible how often people still fall into these pitfalls. If you want a few more mistakes to avoid – go here.

Photography for many people is a hobby, and as such should be like any other hobby, an enjoyable activity. Avoid these beginner pitfalls and you’ll be sure to enjoy your photography even more and it will show in your work.

The post 6 Mistake to Avoid When You’re Starting Out in Photography by Kav Dadfar appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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Beginner Photography Mistakes to Avoid

12 Jan

When you’re just starting out in photography there are so many things to learn it can be overwhelming. Here are two videos with some tips on common photography mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistakes to avoid as a beginning photographer

This video by Serge Ramelli will give you 6 things to avoid doing as you start out in photography.

  1. Shooting during the daytime instead of sunset or sunrise.
  2. Not using an ND filter when shooting the ocean.
  3. Not using a tripod for night photography.
  4. Putting too many elements in your photo, not telling the story well.
  5. Shooting JPG instead of Raw.
  6. Not using Lightroom or its presets.

10 More beginner mistakes to avoid

If you’ve got those things covered, here are 10 more beginner mistakes to avoid including:

  1. Forgetting something at home.
  2. Not arriving early enough to the shooting location.
  3. Not scouting the location ahead of time.
  4. Shooting in the wrong lighting (see mistake #1 above from Serge!).
  5. Not moving around enough.
  6. Images that aren’t sharp (use a tripod, etc.)
  7. Going home too early. Stay later than you planned.
  8. Forgetting to set your camera back to zero (default settings, ISO, exposure compensation, etc.)
  9. Don’t worry so much about shooting in Manual mode.
  10. Not getting close enough to the subject, being too shy.


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3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography

11 Jan

Whether you’re a professional photographer or a hobbyist, there have likely been times when you’ve felt ready to throw in the towel and quit photography forever. Those feelings are normal and are usually the result of added stress from things like a looming deadline or a project that you don’t feel prepared to tackle.

Often, once the added stress subsides, so does the desire to quit photography. However, if that stress becomes chronic it can cause physical, emotional, and mental burnout that’s much more difficult to bounce back from.

3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography

One of the most effective things that photographers of all levels can do to prevent and avoid burnout is to set appropriate boundaries. In this article, we’ll discuss a few different boundaries that you may want to consider setting now in order to protect yourself from future burnout.

1. Set Office Hours

Between smartphones and wi-fi access, it’s easy to be available all the time. It’s easy to respond to a quick text while you’re on vacation. Replying to a midnight email when you’re already awake doesn’t seem like a big deal.

On one hand, being accessible to your clients (whether paid or unpaid) can make them feel appreciated and enhance the client experience. On the other hand, it can also lead to exhaustion and burnout because it always feels like you’re “on duty”.

It’s actually okay not to be available 24/7. In fact, it’s more than just okay. Setting boundaries in terms of availability is crucial to a healthy balance between your work and your personal life.

3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography

Consider setting business/office hours, and do your best to stick to them! The client experience is primarily driven by the quality of the service they receive rather than the speed with which they receive it. Most current or potential clients will be satisfied to receive a response within 24-48 hours.

Just because you happen to see a midnight email pop through doesn’t mean you need to respond to it right away! If you’ve always been immediately accessible and are concerned about making this transition, it’s easy to set an auto email or Facebook Messenger reply to let potential clients know that you’ve received their inquiry and when they can expect a response back from you.

3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography

2. Build in Downtime

I know as well as anyone that it can be really difficult to build downtime into your schedule because doing so often feels like you’re either losing opportunities or income. However, when you’re very busy with photography, it’s important to remember to schedule two kinds of downtime in order to prevent burnout – processing time, and days off.

In the spring, summer, and fall, it can be tempting to book photo sessions every night and weekend. It’s not a bad thing to fill your schedule, but don’t forget that your work generally isn’t done once you leave the session itself. Most sessions require some degree of processing time, which could include everything from culling, editing, social media posts, communication with your clients, and arranging for delivery.

When you’re creating your calendar of availability, don’t forget to factor in all the time you’ll spend after the actual session itself and build in that processing time (or plan to outsource it) accordingly.

3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography

In addition to processing time, I have discovered that there’s tremendous value in blocking out a day or two on my calendar as personal days, even during my busiest season. For me, this is so important both in terms of self-care and also in terms of prioritizing and preserving relationships with my family.

Although I started doing this in order to save my own sanity, I’ve discovered that setting and communicating boundaries in terms of my availability has been helpful in other ways as well. Potential clients tend to book more quickly than they used to because they know that my availability is limited. I also receive far fewer last minute requests to reschedule to a different date or time for the same reason.

3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography

3. Communicate Your Timeline

Another small thing that can greatly reduce your stress and frustration is to communicate your timeline with your clients up front and let them know what they can expect in regards to receiving their images.

Make sure that this timeline is realistic. Factor in all scheduled sessions, your post-session processing time, and your scheduled downtime. By doing so, you’ll be able to give clients a more realistic timeline for receiving their images, while also decreasing the number of all-night editing sessions for you.

3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography

Obviously, the timeline for a professional photographer with five weddings in their queue is going to be totally different than a hobbyist photographer taking photos of a friend’s children. However, you don’t know who a client has worked with in the past, or what their expectations are as they enter into a session, which is why it’s so important to clearly communicate your timeline from the beginning!


Do you have any other advice for setting boundaries to avoid burnout in photography? Have you experienced it? What did you do to prevent it from happening again? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

The post 3 Tips for Setting Boundaries to Avoid Burnout in Photography by Meredith Clark appeared first on Digital Photography School.

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How to Avoid Being Overwhelmed When Learning Photography

03 Dec

Likely, you are working hard to improve your photography. You are trying to master all the settings on your camera, trying to control things like depth of field while trying to improve your focus and the sharpness of your photos. And then there are all those rules of composition to think about as well. That is a lot to remember, and it can be overwhelming. Frankly, it is enough to make you nostalgic for the good old days when you put your camera in Auto mode and fired off snapshots.

How to Avoid Being Overwhelmed When Learning Photography

Before you revert to that, however, let’s take a look at a few ways you can avoid that feeling of overwhelm, and continue to grow as a photographer.

#1 – Use Swing Keys

First, you can take a page from other areas of life that subject people to being overwhelmed. Perhaps no activity involves a feeling of overwhelm for the beginner more so than golf. When you are learning a golf swing, it is not uncommon for there to be 12 to 15 different thoughts going through your mind. If you try to do them all at once, the result is inevitably a disaster.

Therefore it is common to hear golfers talk about “swing keys.” This is about limiting your thoughts to one thing that you want to do in that particular swing. The physical nature of the swing key will vary from golfer to golfer. For one it might be to keep the wrist straight, for another, it might be to follow through. It just depends on their swing and weaknesses. It just gives the golfer something to think about to improve their swings and also keeps them from being overwhelmed.

Works for photography as well

I find this a useful analogy for photographers as well. When you are out in the field getting ready to shoot, you may have a thousand different thoughts going through your head. You might be worried about the overall exposure level, setting the right depth of field, avoiding digital noise, watching the focus point, keeping the picture sharp, placing the subject in the right part of the frame, creating an interesting foreground, looking for leading lines, trying to create some emotion, and so on. All this can lead to overload. Having one or two swing keys in your mind can help add some clarity.

How to Avoid Being Overwhelmed When Learning Photography

Personally, I am always thinking about the foreground. Doing so helps me keep my thoughts together. It also specifically addresses issues of focus, depth of field, subject, and overall composition. For you, it might be something different. It doesn’t matter what it is – and it can evolve over time – just try to simplify things. Remember that often the best photos are the simplest. Further, as we’ll see in a moment, you can add more things later.

Create a Checklist

Another way to keep from worrying about all the things you want to accomplish is to create a checklist. When I was starting out, I found that I would get home from a shoot and kick myself for all the things I forgot to do. I would look at a series of shots I took and wonder why I didn’t bracket some of them, or zoom in on something, or add a neutral density filter in a certain spot, and so on.

Having a checklist will keep you from forgetting these things. At the same time, it will allow you to relax and not worry about missing anything when you are in the field. The checklist can be as simple or elaborate as you want. It can be a folded up sheet of paper or a laminated page – it doesn’t matter. Once you have gotten the shots you want, just consult your checklist and make sure you didn’t overlook anything.

How to Avoid Being Overwhelmed When Learning Photography

Having a checklist can remind you to do things like adding a shot using a neutral density filter.

Use a Building Process

Another way to keep from being overwhelmed is to avoid attempting to do too much at once. Instead, use a building process to create your pictures step-by-step. You’ll be amazed at how simple photography can be when you use this process.

What do I mean by that? Let’s start with an example of a dramatically lit portrait. Trying to create the whole thing in one shot could result in failure and frustration. Therefore, break the final picture down into steps. You might start with a few shots that get the background lighting correct. Once you have that right, then add your flash or strobe, but even then don’t try to control or shape the light yet. Spend a few shots getting the quantity of light the way you want it, and only then move the light off to the side and start working on shape and directions.

In this way, you’ll find that what seems overwhelming at first, actually becomes pretty simple. I have been to enough photography workshops and seminars to confidently state that many masters of photography work this way.

How to Avoid Being Overwhelmed When Learning Photography

In night sky photos, I find it works best to start by just getting the sky right and then worrying about the foreground elements later.

Build a landscape the same way

It works in other contexts as well. A landscaper photographer might find a great background and work on setting that part of their shot up before they start looking for a foreground. Once they have built that part of the picture they might look for additional aspects to use as a subject or center of interest. After that, they might wait for something to happen to add interest to the picture. As a result, the final picture looks very complicated, but it was built step-by-step.

In fact, the famous street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson worked this way. You may know him as the master of the “decisive moment,” but he was always building to that moment. He would find a great spot to use as a background, set everything up, and then wait for something to happen. That way when the decisive moment happened he was ready for it and created an overall wonderful picture. It didn’t just come together in an instant as it might otherwise appear.

The point of all this is to show you that if you start simple, you can avoid being overwhelmed. Once you have established one building block of your picture, add another one. This will not only improve your pictures but will result in you having more fun – and certainly fewer feelings of being overwhelmed – while you are doing it.

Ideas for How to Avoid Overwhelm When Doing Photography

This started as a simple shot of a barn. We added lights as we went. The white streamers were ultimately lit by a person with a flashlight.

Take Advantage of Digital Technology

Finally, as you take your photos, keep one thing in your mind.  Remember the magic of digital photography is that you get to take as many exposures as you want and it costs nothing. There should not be any pressure!

Not only that, but you are getting instant feedback on what you just did via your LCD screen. You can just delete the bad ones (and we all have bad ones) and move on. No one is going to look at your SD card and judge you on the pictures that don’t work out. They’ll only see the ones you show them.

Ideas for How to Avoid Overwhelm When Doing Photography

Similarly, don’t worry about any sort of “hit rate.” Frankly, if you end up with a high hit rate, that probably just means you need to take additional pictures and experiment more.

A Never Ending Quest

Done correctly, photography always involves learning and experimentation. Therefore, while I have aimed these comments at those just starting out, these things really apply to everybody. The feeling of overwhelm never really goes away.

Once you master the controls on your camera you will add other elements to your pictures. Ultimately, you have to find your own way to relax and keep everything fun. Hopefully, these tips will help a little in that regard though.

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How To Avoid 4 Photography Mistakes That Will Hinder Your Development

21 Aug

Teaching photography workshops has made me aware of four mistakes people make which hinder their development as photographers. If you can learn to avoid doing these four photography mistakes you will become a much more creative photographer and find more enjoyment in using your camera.

4 photography mistakes 01

Mistake #1 – Always thinking your camera is not good enough

Most people who join our workshops come with DSLR or mirrorless cameras and have made a reasonable financial investment in this equipment. They have researched what to buy, carefully chosen and purchased a camera they decided will be right for them.

But many people still are stuck on the idea that if they upgrade their equipment their photography will improve dramatically. This can be true in some cases, but generally, it’s a mistake to be easily avoided. It’s most often a mistake to think like this because you are telling yourself you cannot improve unless you get new gear.

4 photography mistakes 02

Changing your thinking about wanting new camera equipment is the best way to avoid getting stuck in a photographic rut. Sticking with the camera you have, getting to know it and love it will enable you to become a far better and more creative photographer. I’ve had my main camera now, (a Nikon D800,) for over five years – a long time for any digital hardware, and I am more than satisfied with it. I have come to know it well and therefore, use it easily. I’ve been using Nikon cameras for over 30 years so am pretty familiar with the way they work.

Sticking with the camera you have, and getting to know it well will enable you to concentrate more on composition, lighting, and timing. You will not be distracted trying to figure out which dials and buttons to use to set the camera the way you want. Making these settings will become second nature once you are intimate with your camera. By upgrading your camera too often you are not as likely to get to become truly familiar with it.

4 photography mistakes 03

Mistake #2 – Not studying how to use your camera

Another mistake I find people often make is not learning how to use their camera. We had a customer recently who had studied photography in high school and also taken courses in photography at university, but they did not really know much about using their camera. I was shocked!

One of the easiest ways to avoid frustration and undoubtedly help improve your photography is to study your camera before you study anything else about photography. Learning how your camera functions and how to control it should be the first step you take in your photographic journey. Unless you are confident with your camera and can use it with ease, you will be distracted from the more creative aspects of photography.

4 photography mistakes 04

Picking up most camera manuals it’s not difficult to understand why people so often do little more than skim a few pages before putting it down again, as they are notoriously challenging to make much sense of. There are other ways to learn about your camera settings.

Getting online and using Google and Youtube will typically result in an incredible amount of good information about most camera models. Many top brands have authors who write independently about their cameras and the information in those books is often far easier to digest.

By deciding to enjoy the camera you have and learning how to use it, you will be avoiding two of the biggest mistakes I find people make that hinder their growth as photographers.

Mistake #3 – Using your camera infrequently

Hopefully, if you are committed to avoiding the first two mistakes you will naturally avoid this third one I find many people make – not using your camera frequently enough.

4 photography mistakes 06

If you only use your camera when you go on vacation, or for family gatherings or to photograph your kid’s soccer game, you are not using it enough to become a really proficient photographer. This is an easy mistake to avoid if you build a healthy habit of taking your camera everywhere, (and you don’t just leave it in your camera bag).

Using your camera frequently, every day preferably is the best way to integrate what you have learned about your camera into practical experience. Taking up what’s known as the 365-day challenge is a great way to help form a creative habit which will do more for your development as a photographer than any other method I know. Choosing to pick up your camera and take at least one photo a day, every day of the year, is a commitment destined to shape and speed your development as a photographer.

4 photography mistakes 07

Mistake #4 – Relying on auto exposure

Most people who join our photography workshops have their camera’s set to one of the auto modes, typically aperture priority, at the start of the day. Before we are through the first hour, most have their cameras set to manual mode. I am very good at convincing people to make the switch to manual because I passionately believe it is a big mistake to allow your camera to make the creative choice of setting the exposure. Your camera is smart, the artificial intelligence in modern cameras is incredible, but your camera is not creative.

4 photography mistakes 05

By taking control of your exposure using manual mode you are avoiding one of the biggest mistakes people make. Knowing how to use manual mode on your camera will empower you to become so much more creative, but you must first overcome the mindset that tells you it’s too difficult. It really isn’t, especially if you are avoiding the first three mistakes I’ve written about in this article.

Camera manufacturers love to promote all the new technology in their cameras and you never see much encouragement from them to use manual mode. I believe learning to use your camera in manual mode is a lot less complicated than learning all the auto settings. Learning to set your exposure manually you have control over the way your photographs will look and you will truly be able to develop your own unique photographic style.

4 photography mistakes 08

Take creative control

By making the mistake of relying on the camera’s AI and using your camera on auto you are relinquishing creative control to a piece of equipment manufactured to return standardized results. If you want to avoid all your photos looking like most other people’s I would encourage you to switch to manual mode and take creative control of your photography.

This is a big step for many people and does require practice to learn the principles of exposure. We have had so many people leave us lovely reviews and thank us for encouraging them to make the switch to manual mode.


4 photography mistakes 09 4 photography mistakes 10

Even if you can avoid making one or two of these mistakes you will notice an improvement in your photography. Managing to avoid all of these photography mistakes will take some time and commitment, but to excel in any creative expression does not happen easily for most people.

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7 Common Mistakes That Every Photography Business Needs to Avoid

11 Aug

Everyone makes mistakes. When growing your photography business, you will make more mistakes over than the years than you can count – and some of them you will even look back on and cringe.

Mistakes are all part of the process. But also part of the job of being a photographer is figuring out how to minimize these mistakes, especially the ones that can set you back a long way. Learn from your peers so you can avoid their mistakes.

Photography Business Marketing

Here are some of the main pitfalls that plague photographers. Just fixing these alone can save you a lot of money, and even more importantly, a lot of time.

Mistake #1 – Not Charging Enough

When you are first building your portfolio, certainly you might have to do some jobs for free or at a reduced rate as you build your skill level. That part is fine, but once you have that portfolio and are a full fledged business, you do not want to sell yourself short.

Photography may seem to others like a passion job – that you just show up for an hour or two, take some photos, and send them over. But it is about so much more than that. It’s about building your skills, learning about light, composition, fixing mistakes on the fly, editing, and learning how to work with clients. It’s traveling to and from the location, paying your expenses, spending the time to market yourself to get the job, paying the bills to keep the lights on, and feeding your family. And it’s about having some time left over to enjoy yourself.

Photography Business Marketing

Create a spreadsheet and calculate these costs so you know what you have to make per job to survive and thrive. This will give you the confidence to ask for what you are worth. If you’re not able to cover all of these costs, then you’re not running a true full-time business, you won’t survive in the long run, and you’re lowering the value of the work itself.

Stay away from the cheap jobs and the cheap clients. They will just suck your time away and demand more and more. If the requirements for a client on a particular job suddenly change halfway through, ask for more money.

Sometimes you will want to do work for less than you are worth if it is the right type of job or the right type of client, but this should only be situational. There will be many points in your career where it will be more valuable to spend the time on your marketing and business development than on the job itself.

Mistake #2 – Not Reaching Out to People and Being Proactive with Marketing

Photography Business Marketing

Jobs are not going to come to you at first, no matter how good your work is. You will have to go out and find your clients, so create a list of your ideal client types and of the best ways to reach each of them.

Work within your personal network, canvas local businesses, attend events and offer your services to individuals. The more you put yourself out there, the more business will come to you. But at first, every job you receive will come as a direct result of you proactively contacting someone or figuring out a strategy to get your work in front of them.

Mistake #3 – Not Collaborating and Working With Other Photographers in Your Space (i.e. Your Competitors)

Photography Business Marketing

Other photographers can be one of the biggest helps to you along your journey. They’ve been there before, they have a lot in common with you, and they could become great friends. Learn from them and offer to help them.

Often you will get some of your first jobs from other photographers, whether it be assisting them or taking some of their overflow. Many established photographers still have a portion of their income come from helping out other photographers in their community.

In addition, accountability can be extremely important for your growth. Find a photographer in a similar place (level and business-wise) as you and work together. Have strategy sessions and share what is working and what is not. Having someone in your life like this can be integral to your success and for getting you through the hard times.

There will be a portion of photographers who see you as a competitor. They will not want to talk to or worth with you. That’s their problem, and the collaborations that you do with the willing photographers will help you both jump ahead of the ones who don’t.

Mistake #4 – Not Responding Quickly Enough

Why don’t photographers respond as quickly as possible to job inquiries? Either way, it makes things easier for us when the competition is slow to respond. I hear it all the time, how surprised people were by how quickly I responded to them, both at the beginning and throughout the entire job process. This shows a level of dependability, and in addition to helping people to want to work with you, it will also make them want to refer you. The more dependable you are, the more your clients will want to help you out however they can.

Even if it’s not a job inquiry, respond quickly. You never know when a casual conversation or advice that you give will turn into a job or reference. Often, it will turn into nothing, but when those one or two out of 10 turn into jobs, in the long run, those will add up.

Mistake #5 – Not Spelling Out the Terms of a Job from the Very Beginning

Photography Business Marketing

Being a skilled photographer is not just about creating beautiful pictures. A big aspect of the photography business is how you handle the job from start to finish, and often the most important part is the very beginning when you spell out the terms and requirements.

It is really tough to know exactly what a client is envisioning for the job, so it helps to ask a lot of questions. This will even help them figure out what they want, as many of them will not have any experience with hiring a professional photographer. It will also help you justify your price when you talk out the steps of a job with them.

Make sure they know that if the parameters of the job change (through their decisions), you will have to charge more for the extra work. Most clients will think it is not a big deal to add something that was not specified ahead of time, but this is just more work they are giving you that was not spelled out originally. It happens a lot of the time, so it’s very important for your photography business to learn how to handle it correctly.

Mistake #6 – Not Having a Contract

Similar to the last point, while you both need to come to an agreement on the scope of any photography project, you also need to spell out those terms in a contract. Without a contract, you can easily be screwed over, and many photographers learn this the hard way. Hire a lawyer to give you advice, and look into, which provides a variety of photographer contracts. These can save you a lot of time and money.

Read this on contracts: The Biggest Legal Mistake Photographers Make

The contract is important for setting the boundaries of the project. It will be easier to ask for more money if the scope of a job changes when you have a contract that spells out the exact requirements that were drafted.

Mistake #7 – Not Having an Efficient Workflow

Photography Business Marketing

Efficiency is one of the most important aspects of running a photography business, and unfortunately, speed is something that is learned over time. Create a speedy and organized system for how you work. Import a job, cull the selects, crop, do the post-production work (light, color, contrast, etc.), export, deliver, and invoice. The more efficient you are with this, the less you will procrastinate. There is nothing that will cause a photographer to procrastinate more than staring at a mountain of unedited images.

While this tip may sound simple, jobs that might take beginning photographers three hours to edit, can take an experienced photographer an hour. It took me much longer to edit a job when I started, and this organization and efficiency can give you so much more time to spend on everything else.

Also read: Photography Workflow Tips – From Memory Card to Computer and Beyond

Always tell a client that you will get a job to them a couple days later than you think you can. This will allow you time to screw something up and still get the work to them on time. Usually, you will get it to them early which will make you look even better (this is called under promise, over deliver).

Mistake #8 – Bonus Tip: Learn When to Say No

Photography Business Marketing

It’s hard to say no as a photographer, especially if you are growing your business and are under booked, but some jobs or some clients are just not worth it. If you are not being paid enough and the job is not good for your portfolio, if the client is tough to work with and overly demanding, save that aggravation and pass.

Some of these clients will prey upon young photographers to squeeze as much out of them before the photographer wises up. Just avoiding these jobs alone will save you so much time, and allow you to put it towards marketing and business development efforts that will set you much further ahead than by taking a less than desirable job.

Your time is very, very important, so don’t waste it. Saying no can be one of the best decisions you make.

If you have a photography business and have any other tips for newbies just getting started, please share in the comments below.

For even more business help – join the Focus Summit 2017 Online Business and Marketing Conference for Photographers on Sept 26-28th 2017. We will cover marketing, business development, law, SEO, branding, blogging, and much more. Use the code “DPS” for a $ 50 discount.


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Warning: Avoid This Scam Targeting Photographers

07 Jun

Over at All Things Photo, I’ve shared a video detailing a scam targeting photographers selling prints online. Also included in the video are 7 tips to avoid being scammed online. While the video is on the long side it’s worth a listen to protect yourself and learn the limitations of fraud protection with your bank and insurance companies. If you’re driving you can also listen to the podcast recording via the All Things Photo podcast.

If you haven’t already I welcome you to follow All Things Photo on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

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Avoid These 5 Common Camera Setting Mistakes Made By Beginners

31 May

Over the years, I’ve taught many new photographers and observed how they used their cameras. I have noticed a handful of common mistakes that many of them make. While there is a lot more to learn about photography, if you can avoid or fix these issues alone, you will find that your photographs will be much sharper and of much better quality.

Avoid These 5 Camera Setting Mistakes Typically Made By Beginners

1. Not raising the ISO high enough

It used to be commonly taught that you always needed to go as low as possible with the ISO for digital cameras. This was because early digital cameras had horrible noise at higher ISOs. These days, that has completely changed. Newer digital cameras can shoot with incredible quality at ISO 800, 1600, 3200, and even 6400 for higher end cameras. The noise is much less noticeable than it used to be, and it is much more pleasant looking.

Avoid These 5 Camera Setting Mistakes Typically Made By Beginners

This has changed how we can shoot. While your ISO should still be as low as possible when the camera is on a tripod when you’re shooting handheld you will often want to raise your ISO up much higher. Unless I am purposely shooting with a very large aperture such as f/2.8, I typically keep my ISO at 400 in sunlight, 800-1600 in light to dark shade, and 3200 and 6400 when handheld at dusk or at night. This allows me to use a faster shutter speed to offset handheld camera shake or motion in subjects, along with a decent depth of field. My shots are much sharper because of this.

Unless you are shooting in Manual Mode, I suggest taking your camera off of auto-ISO. You never want to let your camera choose two of the three settings (shutter, aperture, and ISO) because it will mess up your photographs a lot of the time. The camera should only be choosing one of those three settings for optimal use.

2. Using a shutter speed that’s too slow

Avoid These 5 Camera Setting Mistakes Typically Made By Beginners

To offset the handheld camera shake, the shutter speed always needs to be ONE over the focal length of your lens. So if you are shooting with a 50mm lens, your camera will need to be at 1/50th of a second (or faster) to make sure the image is sharp. This comes even more into play with a zoom lens because a 300mm lens will need a 1/300th of a second shutter speed in order for the image to not look blurry. This is because slight vibrations are much more noticeable when you magnify a small area in the distance. This is also why I will often raise my ISO when zooming at far distances.

For subjects in motion, you will need a fast enough shutter speed to freeze them. I prefer a minimum of 1/250th of a second to freeze people walking. You will need an even faster shutter speed as you get to subjects such as cars.

3. Not using exposure compensation (+/-) or the right meter mode

Avoid These 5 Camera Setting Mistakes Typically Made By Beginners

If you are using Aperture or Shutter Priority mode, Exposure Compensation is your best friend, particularly in scenes with tricky lighting. Your camera’s light meter is not creative – it wants to make everything look a neutral gray, but that is problematic in images with lots of dark or bright tones. Maybe you want those tones to look gray for creative purposes, but most likely, you will want them to be true to the scene. This is where Exposure Compensation (+/-) comes into play.

For instance, in scenes with lots of bright snow or a bright sky, this could trick the camera into thinking that it needs to overly darken the image to make those white areas look gray. Or if you are shooting at night, or in a dark alleyway, the camera’s light meter will try to make those dark tones look like a lighter gray, thus brightening the image too much. Similar problems can also appear when shooting in areas with both bright highlights and dark shadows, or if your subject is backlit.

On a related note, many photographers keep their camera on the wrong metering mode. There are three main metering modes; Evaluative, Center-weighted, and Spot metering. Evaluative will expose for the entire scene, Center-weighted will expose based on the spot that you focus on and an expanded area around it, and Spot metering will measure the light based on only the spot that you point to. I personally find Evaluative to be too broad and Spot to be too focused, so I mostly use Center-weighted metering mode.

Read more here: Cheat Sheet: Understand Metering Modes On Your Camera

4. Not getting the focus point right

Avoid These 5 Camera Setting Mistakes Typically Made By Beginners

Some photographers leave their focusing completely up to the camera. This is a terrible idea as the camera will often focus on the wrong point, ultimately ruining your image. You need to be in control of your focusing and put the focus on the most important subject in the image.

On a similar note, it is common for photographers to get that new 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 lens and immediately think that they need to shoot everything at f/1.4 because they can. Some situations will be good for f/1.4, but it’s important to realize how shallow the depth of field is at that aperture.

If you are shooting with a really shallow depth of field, the focus needs to be perfect and exactly right on the most important subject. If you are photographing a person and you put the focus point on the person’s ear or nose instead of their eyes, it will be noticeable and it will mess up the photograph. Often, I prefer to shoot portraits like this at f/4 instead of f/1.8 or f/2.8. There is still a beautiful background with bokeh, yet more of the person is in focus. This minimizes any focusing mistakes as well.

5. Using image stabilization when using a tripod

Avoid These 5 Camera Setting Mistakes Typically Made By Beginners

The image stabilizer in your lens or camera will make your photographs sharper when handheld. However, it can also create minor vibrations while keeping the camera steadier, and these vibrations can actually backfire when you are on a tripod. Sometimes they will introduce blur. So always make sure to turn the image stabilizer off when you are using a tripod. If you ever notice your photographs on a tripod are slightly blurry, this issue and wind are the most likely culprits.


There you have it. The bottom line is that if you can learn to conquer and avoid these five common beginner mistakes, you’ll be on your way to better photography.

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5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

01 Feb

For today’s photographer, post-processing is a critical element of image making. Sure, when you first get started with digital photography, you might shoot in JPG mode and allow the camera to make decisions about things like color and contrast. But when you’re ready to take control of your images, it’s time to shoot in RAW format and make the important decisions about how you want your final image to look yourself.

Estuary in Campbell River BC by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

When you first start shooting in RAW, you might think your images look a bit gray and bland. That’s because the decisions that the camera was making before are now left up to you. That can be a bit daunting! But here are some tips to help you avoid the most common post-processing mistakes and make sure you are helping your images and not hurting them.

Remember, the purpose of post-processing is not to fix bad photos, but to bring out the best in good photos.

Mistake #1 – Lightening shadows too much

Always try to get the best exposure possible in camera. You’ll get a better result when you start out with a good exposure rather than relying on the highlights and shadows sliders in post-processing to balance it.

That said, sometimes you will still want to use the shadows slider to lighten your shadows to bring more detail in the darker areas of your image. Just be careful not to overdo it, or you’ll end up with an image that no longer looks natural.

This is overdone, the shadows have been pulled too far here and it no longer looks natural. Notice it also introduced noise into the sky.

Convict Lake, California by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Shadow adjustment in moderation is better.

If you try to equalize the brightness of the highlights and shadows, you’ll end up with a photo that not only looks unnatural, but the lack of contrast will make the image look boring. Contrast is a good thing! This is especially true when you have a scene with a reflection. The reflection should always be darker than the scene it is reflecting, as it is in nature.

Mistake #2 – Over saturation

Another way to create an unnatural looking image is to over saturate everything. It’s a tempting thing to do because a little bump in saturation and vibrance makes such a big difference. Again, just don’t overdo it. A little goes a long way.

Before you touch those sliders, spend a bit of time thinking about your image and the colors in it. Sometimes adding saturation globally is not the best idea, especially if you have a scene that contains many different colors. Instead, consider using the HSL (Hue/Saturation/Luminosity) panel, choose Saturation, and use the target tool to add saturation to one color in your scene. For example, you might want to add saturation to the main subject to draw attention to it.

Over saturation leaves the colors looking odd.

Yellow flower with bee by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Better saturation levels.

Mistake #3 – Over sharpening

First of all, never use sharpening to try to fix a photo that is out of focus. It just doesn’t work. Sharpening cannot fix blur. However, if you have an image that is in focus, adding a bit of sharpening can make it extra crisp and realistic.

Again, consider adding sharpening locally (to one select area) not globally, especially if you have areas of your scene that are purposely out of focus, such as when you have a shallow depth of field. Also, the sky usually looks better when it is smooth, so you don’t want to add sharpening there. Keep in mind that adding sharpening will increase noise, which is another reason not to add it globally. Rather, just add it to the main subject or areas of your scene with a lot of detail.

This has been over sharpened, you can see artifacts throughout the image here.

Deer by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Better level of sharpening.

In Adobe Camera Raw, use the Detail panel to add sharpening. Then, hold down the option (or alt) key and use the masking slider. As you move the slider, the areas that appear black do not have sharpening applied and areas that are white do. This is an effective way to add sharpening to the areas of your image that have details. Another option is to use the adjustment brush to brush sharpening on where you want it.

Mistake #4 – Over cropping

The crop tool is a handy way to refine your composition, remove unwanted elements on the edges of the frame, and make sure your horizon line is straight. But don’t use it to remove all the “negative space” in your scene.

You don’t need to fill the frame with your subject. A little breathing room keeps the image interesting. Think about creating a balance between the space taken up by your subject and the space around it. This is not necessarily an equal balance.

Cropped too tight on the subject.

Bisti Badlands, New Mexico by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Cropped to leave negative space and lead your eye to the subject.

Mistake #5 – Too much Noise Reduction

Sometimes the nature of the light requires the use of a high ISO. Perhaps you need both a small aperture and a high shutter speed for your scene, so increasing the ISO is the only way to get a good exposure. That’s okay. The noise caused by using a high ISO can be reduced in post-processing using the noise reduction slider.

But nobody said that all images must have no noise. Not all images have to be perfectly smooth looking. Especially if there is a lot of detail and texture in your subject. Using too much noise reduction can create blurry splotches in areas that were previously sharp.

Too much noise reduction has been applied here and overall the image now looks blurry.

Kofa National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona by Anne McKinnell - 5 Common Post-Processing Mistakes to Avoid

Noise reduction scaled back.

You may have noticed a theme in these common mistakes. Don’t over do it! Small adjustments go a long way to bringing out the best qualities of your images, but taking it too far can just as easily ruin them.

After you process your image, take a break from it and look at something else. Maybe even give it a day to settle. Then, when you look at it again, it will be more obvious if you have taken the processing too far.

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10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

21 Jan

Studies state that one time or another, about 80% of the world population experiences some kind of back problems or pain. This is either due to nerve and muscular problems, degenerative disc disease, arthritis or some kind of trauma. Age, poor physical fitness and being overweight may explain some causes of back pain, but the main reason responsible is for sure bad posture.

A lot of jobs require physical efforts like lifting, pushing, or pulling while twisting your spine, but sitting at a desk all day may be just as bad, as a static posture increases stress in the back.

Nick Haskins

By Nick Haskins

Photographers are for sure high-risk candidates to back pain, either for carrying heavy cameras or bags on their necks or shoulders or by spending a long time at their computers editing images. Every photographer I know always complains about how bad their back hurts after a long shooting session or many hours editing images.

For many years I was one of those photographers with constant back pain. I was always trying to relieve it with pain medication or visits to a chiropractor until the day I woke up with my left arm completely numb. The doctor told me I had two really bad herniated discs in my cervical and that I needed surgery to fix it.

It was not an easy surgery let me tell you; the recovery was long and painful and it all made me realize that I could have avoided reaching this point if I had paid more attention to my posture. So here are some tips I have learned along the way that can help you take better care of your back while doing your photography work, so you can avoid what I went through.

#1 – Trade your shoulder bag for a backpack

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

A shoulder bag is a signature style for most photojournalists, and it is indeed practical when you need to have easy access to your equipment while on the move. But it is also a big enemy of your posture, as it puts all the weight in one of your shoulders making your spine curved and unbalanced.

Backpacks distribute the weight equally on both shoulders, making it a much better solution for carrying your equipment. Rolling trolleys are an even better option, but they are not as practical if you need to move fast and don’t have smooth terrain.

#2 – Trade the neck strap on your camera for a sling strap

Having a heavy camera and lens hanging from your neck by a strap is obviously a really bad idea. It causes a lot of stress on your neck, leading to issues with either the spinal discs or in the joints of the cervical spine. Sling straps minimize the impact of the camera’s weight, hanging it from the shoulder and across the torso. This makes it easier for you to move around and reach the camera, reducing the impact on your neck.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

#3 – Get a good office chair

If you spend a long time working on your computer, then a good office chair is something you must invest in. It is really important that your chair is adjustable, and can be regulated to your size, and the position you adopt in relation to the table and the computer you are working on.

The optimal angle position between your legs and back is around 125 degrees.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

Also avoid chairs with wheels that cannot be blocked, as they tend to move back and forward leading you to bad posture while seated. Also, avoid arm rests as they might cause pressure on the elbow tendons leading to tendinitis and ulnar nerve compression.

#4 – Adapt the computer position to your body

Almost everyone uses their computer in the worst possible position as they are most of the time located very low, especially if it is a laptop.

Hunching over and looking down for a long time causes really bad stress on the cervical spine and neck muscles, This can lead to a stiff neck, headaches, and in a long run degenerative spinal problems. The correct thing to do is to place your computer monitor in a position that you can look straight ahead without having to curve your neck.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

#5 – Use a pen and tablet instead of a mouse

A mouse is a fundamental piece of hardware for most people’s computer work, but at the same time, it is a bad ergonomic tool. It forces your hand to stay in an unnatural position, leading in the long run, to hand, wrist, shoulder and arm problems like tendinitis and arthritis.

The use of a pen and tablet, besides giving you much better control of design functions in image editing software, allows a much more natural hand position, avoiding health problems.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

#6 – Take regular breaks and stretch your body

A common mistake we all make is to stand in the same position for long periods of time whether it is photographing, driving, standing at a desk, or simply just relaxing on the couch.

It is fundamental to take small breaks in your daily activities and simply just stretch, allowing the fibers in your muscles to move and avoid cramps and contracting.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

#7 – Get your blood flowing

Poor circulation is the starting point to a lot of really serious health problems. Of course, we would all like to have a healthier life, eat better, and exercise more, but the truth is that it takes a lot of time and discipline.

A great way to overcome this is to turn your regular activities into small exercises.

Simple things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or turn a walk down the street to the coffee shop into a power walk, just by adding more movement to your arms while you walk, can make a big difference in your overall physical condition.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

#8 – Always lift with your knees, not your back

Most severe back injuries come from trauma or heavy weight lifting. Trying to pick up something heavy from ground level, using just your back, is a true recipe for a disaster like a herniated disk.

The trick here is to always keep you back straight and use your knees as a lever to lift up the weight. Your legs muscles are much stronger than your back, trust me.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

#9 – Adjust your sleeping position

We spend roughly one-third of our lives sleeping, so if we worry about our posture during the day, we should also worry about our posture while we sleep.

Most hard working people I know are so tired when they get to bed, that they just lay down, close their eyes and get to sleep right away. Most of the time that’s in really awkward positions and they spend most of the night wrestling with their pillow or sinking in really bad mattresses.

The best sleeping position is a really controversial discussion as it is a personal thing due to your body shape, weight, breathing difficulties, etc.

We move a lot in our sleep, but whether you sleep most of the time on your back, side or stomach, always try to have a mattress and pillow that keep your spine as straight as possible. You will rest a lot better and wake up a lot more fresh.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

#10 – Hydrate yourself properly

Our body is 90% water, but yet we tend to forget how much we need to drink water just to be alive.

If you are a busy person, it’s not easy to reach the 2 liters per day of optimal water intake. But if you just make an effort and carry a water bottle around with you and drink regularly during the day you will see that your internal organs will function a lot better, your skin will look younger and your joints and bones will not get old so fast.

10 Tips to Help Photographers Avoid Back Problems

Conclusion – over to you

So there it is, a small list of simple tips that might make a significant change in your life.

They may seem obvious for most people, but the fact is that we are all so busy with our daily life and work routines, that we seem just to forget to take care of ourselves and only realize when it is just too late.

What about you, do you have some tips we could add to this list to help other photographers avoid back problems?

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