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It’s exciting starting a new hobby like photography. There is so much to learn, so much possibility. But it can be hard to know which newbie photography mistakes to avoid when you’re in the beginning stages.

To help you avoid as many photography mistakes as possible (you WILL make them), I’ve compiled a list of some of the photography mistakes I see a lot of newbies do… and some seasoned photographers believe it or not.

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8 Newbie Photography Mistakes To Avoid

1. Selective colour

I’m only putting this at the top because it gets so much hate in photography groups, usually because it’s often used for the sake of it and with the wrong kind of photos.

If you post a bad selective colour image in a group, or your portfolio is made up of selective colour edits that don’t really make much sense, then people are going to assume you have only just used Photoshop for the very first time.

Selective colour is rarely ever done well and it can look very gimmicky, especially if it’s used a lot or for no particular reason.

It’s a totally subjective thing of course, as is all art, but if you want to use selective colour then do it with purpose. Making a bride black and white in a colourful wedding photograph will only make her look like a corpse but making a London bus red in a black and white street scene can work, even if that concept is a little overdone.

Newbie photography mistakes - Selective Colour
Example of bad selective colour

2. Not learning manual settings

This doesn’t mean that every professional or experienced photographer always shoot in manual. They don’t always. Some of the most experienced photographers often shoot in Aperture Priority mode for example.

BUT, you should learn how to shoot manual regardless of whether you use manual mode on every shoot or not. Getting to know your settings, inside out, is incredibly important.

3. Not paying attention to your horizons

We’ve all done it, taken a few photos and then realised the horizon is a bit wonky! Check to make sure your horizon is straight in-camera before shooting, so that you don’t have to crop out any of your image.

Wonky Horizons
Example of a wonky horizon.

4. Overcooking your images in post

Personally, I think an image isn’t really finished until it’s been through a little post processing but sometimes you can go too far.

You can easily over-saturate an image or make someones skin look too fake while smoothing it out and those overdone vignettes should really be a thing of the past!

Knowing when to take it back a step and when your image is edited just right is a valuable skill.

Try some of these editing tutorials for Photoshop to get you started on the right path.

Example of over saturation and white vignette newbie photography mistakes
Example of over saturation and dated white vignette

5. Not paying attention to distractions

When you’re photographing your subject, don’t just think about how they look in the scene.

Be sure to also look for any distractions in the background or foreground.

It’s easier to work around them in camera than it is to remove them in post processing, especially if you’re new to photo editing.

6. Focusing on the wrong spot

There’s a running joke between a lot of photographers that when we are finally IN a picture, the focus is usually on the background instead of us.

It happens a lot, when we hand our camera over to someone inexperienced, the focus often gets missed.

Make sure you are focusing on your actual subject and not the background. If you’re photographing a portrait, then your subjects eyes are the most important thing to focus on.

Related: 40+ Photography Terms Explained For Beginners

7. Over/under exposing your images

Taking an image that’s too bright or too dark is something we all do from time to time but it happens a lot more in the beginning.

When we aren’t as familiar with our settings and how that’s impacted by our lighting situation, we can end up with pictures that aren’t correctly exposed.

Getting to know your manual settings will help with this and practising reading your light situation.

8. Leaving dust on the sensor

There’s nothing worse than taking a bunch of pictures with a small aperture and then realised that they have camera dust all over them. It’s a bitch to edit dust out of tons of photos.

I use a simple bit of kit to clean my sensor, just make sure if you’re doing it to yourself that you follow the instructions carefully and you get the right size set for your sensor. Alternatively most camera shops have a sensor cleaning service.

You can check if you have dust on your sensor by taking a picture of a light plain wall at a small aperture of f/11 or smaller.


What photography mistakes have you made so far? Let me know in the comments!

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8 Newbie Photography Mistakes To Avoid