Bad habits might not completely ruin your photos, but they can hold you back from creating the best images possible. The worst part about them? We tend not to realize we even have the bad habit until it’s pointed out!
Here are 6 bad habits that can prevent you from being your most awesome photographer self.
1. Standing Still
Keeping your feet still when you’re shooting is a surefire way to limit your creative potential. But it’s an easy habit to fall into, especially if you use a zoom lens. Instead of shooting a scene from just one perspective, get into the habit of walking around, moving closer and stepping back. Don’t rely on the zoom! Use your feet, and see how quickly you start getting way more interesting perspectives.
Note: If you’re shooting a 2 min long exposure you can completely ignore this advice. In that instance, standing still is a very good thing. ;)
Chimping is the act of taking a photo, and then looking at the result on the back of your screen while going “Ooooo!”. There’s nothing inherently wrong with checking out your photos on your camera — it can be a great way to learn, and fix any glaring mistakes. The problem exists when you do this, and in the process, stop paying attention to what’s going on in front of you and miss capturing a great moment.
So use the back of the screen only when completely necessary (checking your exposure in tricky lighting, for example) and then keep your eyes on the scene, ready to get the shot.
3. Bringing The Camera Down To Change Settings
This goes along with chimping, but is a different bad habit. And even though I’ve been shooting professionally for 6 years now, I still do this all the time. I don’t know why! But basically, when I need to change my ISO, I bring the camera down, look at the screen, and change it. And by doing this, I take my eyes off the scene, and miss important moments.
It’s taking a considerable mental effort to force myself to adjust my settings while keeping the camera up to my eye. It requires memorizing where all the buttons are, but when you do manage it, it will really help you to stay focused, and keep careful watch on your subject. Don’t wait until you’re actually in the middle of a shoot to practice this. Take some time on your own to make sure you can change all the important settings without bringing the camera down. You can even do this while you’re just sitting on the couch reading articles about bad photography habits. ;)
4. Talking From Behind Your Camera
Have you ever been directing your subjects, and received a puzzled look and a “Huh?”, then realized that you had the camera covering your face for every word? If you have this bad habit, it’s definitely an important one to break! Not only does clear communication help your subjects to relax, and feel more confident in your abilities as their photographer, but showing your pretty face (complete with a genuine smile) will truly help put people at ease. This is critical whether you’re shooting a paid client or a stranger in another country.
5. Neglecting To Square Up
Careful composition is a hallmark of great photography, so sloppy habits here will definitely hold you back. First, if you have a horizon in your image, make it level. The human eye expects horizons to be level, so one that is slightly tilted will be distracting. If you have trouble with this bad habit, you can install a grid in your viewfinder to help you out.
Note: Sometimes it can aid your image to have a tilted horizon (perhaps to create a sense of movement), but it should be a conscious decision, not a careless mistake!
Then, when you’re shooting against a wall or a building — something that has straight lines — be sure that you are standing perfectly square to it. If you’re at a very slight angle, the lines won’t be straight, and it will again feel distracting. This rule can be broken as well, as long as you make the decision to do it!
6. Thinking You’ll “Fix It Later”
This habit can apply to anything from shooting with an incorrect exposure, failing to move a stray hair, or leaving a small piece of garbage in the frame. It’s easy to get caught up in wanting to get the shot, and thinking you can just fix these little things afterwards on your computer. And you can. But it’s at the cost of improving your skills and being an efficient shooter.
It’s simple. Get as much right in camera as you possibly can. Don’t let digital processing be a crutch that prevents you from strengthening your technical skills!
And seriously, you’ll be cursing yourself when you have to edit that stray hair out of dozens of photos, spending hours on the computer, when you could have spent 10 seconds to move it during the shoot. That’s a mistake that you’ll hopefully only make once!
Bad habits are easy to pick up, and difficult to break. But if you keep working on adopting good habits, and getting rid of the bad ones, you’re sure to see your technique, and your photos, just keep getting better and better!
What are some other bad photography habits that you should break? Tell us in the comments below!