Common Photography Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

No matter how advanced our cameras and other photography tools are, we are not machines; we are human, and being human means making mistakes. All photographers, from total newbies to seasoned pros, make mistakes from time to time, so it’s nothing to panic about. Fortunately, most photographers make the same handful of mistakes, so learning what these are and how to avoid them in your photography can make life a lot easier.

Centering Everything

This is one of the first mistakes that any photography teacher will warn you about, but it bears repeating: avoid the temptation to put your subject in the center of the photo. Instead, follow the “rule of thirds” and place focus areas of the image along imaginary gridlines dividing the frame into nine pieces (i.e. dividing it into thirds vertically and into thirds horizontally). Some cameras show you a rule-of-thirds grid while you’re shooting to help with composition, but if yours doesn’t, don’t worry about being precise. Offsetting the subject in some way will make for a more interesting shot, even if you don’t put it exactly on the ⅓ line.

Visual Distractions

Sometimes, we get so focused on our subject and how they look in the image that we lose sight of everything around them. It’s only when we look at the photo later that we realize how distracting the other objects or people cluttering the background can be. To avoid this, try to be aware of potentially distracting things and keep them out of your photos when possible. Your background doesn’t have to be perfectly uniform by any means, but if something really stands out, adjust the shot so that it doesn't take away from the important parts.

Cutting Things Out

On a similar line, it can be easy to cut out a small part of our subject without noticing, especially if the subject is something big, like a building. Even when we photograph people, things like feet, hands, or the tops of heads can be just slightly out of frame without the photographer noticing. Now, you don’t have to include the entire subject in your photos, but if you’re cutting part of it out, make sure it looks deliberate. Headshots, which only show a person’s head and shoulders, look intentional; near-full-body shots that are missing only the lower legs do not.

Light/Color Issues

Every photographer has, at some point in their career, tried to capture a beautiful, vibrant scene only to be shocked by an unsightly resulting photo. Many beginner’s photos, in particular, turn out too bright, too dark, too muted, or with some other light or color issues. The solution for every one of these problems is deceptively simple: get to know your camera. Familiarizing yourself with how to properly adjust exposure and white balance on your camera will go a long way, and once you’ve got it, your photos will look a lot more like the scene you saw with your own eyes.

Distortions and Warping

You may run into accidental vignetting or distorted photos with warped objects. This normally also comes down to using equipment properly. If you use the wrong lens for the type of shot you’re taking, it can end up looking pretty funky. The problem is easily avoided if you know what the focal lengths of your lenses are and when they are best used (and, of course, if you double-check which lens you’re using before taking the shot). There are ways to correct distortions in the editing phase, too, but it’ll be easier, in the long run, to get familiar with your lenses.

How to Fix Mistakes After the Fact

No matter how hard you try to avoid making mistakes, it’s almost impossible to take a photo that’s 100% perfect. That’s why editing was invented! You can use Lightroom to correct just about any problem that you might encounter or mistake you might make in your photography. Most of the common mistakes we talked about today can be improved with editing, and by being aware of these mistakes both during and after your shoot, you can pretty much eliminate them from your photography. If you’re specifically having light and color issues, you can also utilize Lightroom presets to correct the mistakes and give a whole new vibe to your photos, all with one click.


Try not to worry when you notice mistakes popping up in your photography. It happens to the best of us, and it’s how we learn to improve! You can make use of the tips above to avoid some of the most common mistakes, and if you ever run into a problem that really has you stumped, reaching out to peers can be a great way to troubleshoot. As long as you don’t give up, you’ll have things sorted out in no time!

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