Essential Mistakes to Avoid as a Beginner Photographer

It’s human nature to make mistakes, especially when you are still new at something.

We should use mistakes to learn and evolve, and this is true for pretty much anything we do in life.

But even though all mistakes have educational potential, most of you will agree that avoiding some of them just makes life easier.

It’s always better to learn from someone else’s mistakes before you make them yourself. It is the way of the wise, but that’s not to say you won’t have your share of slips on your journey to becoming a better photographer.

As always, our mission is to educate and inspire photographers, be they first time shooters or seasoned professionals looking to constantly learn something new. With that in mind, here are a few mistakes you could easily live without making.

Not Looking at Enough Photos

With so much visual content all around us, it’s virtually impossible to live a modern life without being bombarded with all sorts of images.

Just think about how much time you spend on social networks like Instagram looking at other people’s photos…

But spending hours each day looking at popular Instagram accounts isn’t enough for developing your sense of aesthetics. Writers read a lot of books, filmmakers watch countless movies, and good photographers study the work of others.

Spend some time studying full bodies of work. Curiosity is of the essence!

Once you stumble across an inspiring image, do a bit of research, find out who took the shot, and dive into their portfolio. The chances are that you’ll find more fascinating work.

Do this again and again. Finding your personal style has a lot to do with how you interpret your influences, and this is something often neglected by aspiring photographers.

Not Shooting Enough

This should be a no-brainer, yet it is a path very easy to slip on.

A day without shooting turns into a week, which later becomes a month, and so on. Real progress should not be expected without serious work.

Talent has a lot to do with being a successful photographer, but in the overall scheme of things, it has a lot less to do with getting where you want to be than good old hard work.

Shoot as much as you can and turn uninteresting subjects into creative challenges because, ultimately, you have to nurture your imagination.

Choosing Poor Subjects

With billions of images being taken every day, it can be extremely challenging to find interesting and inspiring subjects.

Finding the motivation to pursue something that has been photographed countless times is also part of the equation, but the trick is to not let it get to you.

Always push yourself to photograph any subject in a personal manner, and try to stay away from subjects that have been exploited over and over by previous generations of photographers in your area.

Not Acquiring Editing Skills

Editing is an essential part of the creative process, and ignoring it and relying on your camera to do all the work will take away a lot of the potential from your images.

You don’t have to become a Photoshop guru, but mastering the basics of editing will greatly benefit your portfolio.

YouTube is full of awesome tutorials that will get you started, so spend some time experimenting and learning new things on your computer.

In the meantime, check out the in-depth video above on developing a post-processing workflow in Lightroom by Elias Sarantopoulos.

Over-Investing in Gear

This is by far one of the most common beginner mistakes.

It’s natural to feel insecure about something you don’t master, but trying to compensate by purchasing too much gear or getting the most expensive items on the market will not make you a better photographer.

Making smart decisions when it comes to buying gear is the best way to invest in the long run. You don’t want to end up with items you don’t actually need or to make costly investments that will bring you no return.

It’s very easy to get carried away, and this is totally understandable. But here are some of the basic items you actually need to start working on an impressive portfolio.


A good mid-range camera is a safe long term investment.

Entry-level models often limit photographers after a couple of years, but something a little more advanced will work just fine after you develop a decent skill set.

The good part about buying a mid-level camera is that you have a lot of options, especially if you are not yet committed to one system or another.

You can even go for a secondhand camera, and this will allow you to dip your toes into professional camera land.

Some great professional cameras are now available for a lot less than they used to cost when they were new, and the image quality is still very good in most of these cameras. Just think how long it took the Nikon D700 to truly become obsolete!

A Good Shutter Release

All photographers should carry a remote shutter release, but up until recently, the more capable models were very pricey.

A company called Alpine Labs has changed this with what is perhaps the most revolutionary product in its class that we have seen in years.

Pulse is a wireless shutter release (seen above) that can be fully controlled by your iOS or Android device.

The great thing about is that it gives you complete control over up to three cameras.

That means you can change exposure settings, ISO, and aperture, but you can also review your photos on your device in real time.