The 5 Stupidest Photography Errors You Don’t Even Know You’re Making

They can happen to anyone who thinks he’s a good photographer. They can even happen to a professional photographer who has had years and years of experience in the industry! What…is “they?” In this case, “they” is a reference to the absolutely worst photography errors that you don’t even know you’re making.

Photo by Felicia Simion
Photo by Felicia Simion

No matter how good you are or think you are, they have a nasty penchant of creeping up on you just when you least expect them to. They can sometimes catch you off guard, or they can take advantage of your overconfidence. Either way, they’ll get you…they’ll always get you!

Is there any way that you can prevent making photography errors? Sure, it’s by being highly aware of what they are, so that you can recognize them and stop yourself from making them in the first place. With that in mind, get a load of these stupidest photography errors.

1. Blurry Pictures Are the Scourge of Photographers

Blurry photographs come from either one of two causes: Your subject is moving as you snap the shutter, or you actually shake your digital camera. In any case, your picture won’t be something that will show off your photography skills.

Photography Mistakes 1
This blurry photo is making my eyes and head hurt! Photo by Richard Riley.

To totally remove any outside chance of shaking, you should use a tripod. Amazon has a fine selection of tripods that are ideal to combat shaking. Unfortunately, though, using a tripod is only going to help if your subject is perfectly—and we mean perfectly!—still. If the subject moves, then even a tripod won’t help.

So what do you do? Just utilize the action mode of your camera. Your camera may refer to this mode by a slightly different term, so check your instruction manual. What the action mode does is optimize the camera’s shutter speed in the quest to capture any action automatically.

2. Red-Eye Makes People Look Scary and Weird

No photographer wants red-eye in his shots. It makes people look bizarre and totally ruins the shot. This unwanted occurrence happens when the light that comes from the flash of your camera reflects off of the retina of the subject’s eyes. This major photography error is one so widespread that even the best of photography pros will not be immune from it!

Photography Mistakes 2
This dude’s red-eye effect is scary as hell! Photo by Low-Power Design.

To completely make sure that you won’t get red-eye when you snap a picture, just turn off your flash when you take a picture. Of course, sometimes, you’ll have to use the flash anyway since the environment will be excessively dark. In such a situation, direct your subject to face your camera when you shoot, but tell him never, ever to look right into your lens.

3. Misuse of Wide-angle Lenses

You’ll be surprised at how often photographers simply misuse the wide-angle lens in their quest to get shots from different perspectives. Suffice it to say, wide-angle lenses have their time and place, but not when you’re too lazy to look for unique angles yourself! The whole point of photography is to learn how to develop your own eye for what angle looks interesting and unique.

Photography Mistakes 3
These wide-angle lenses are not to be abused. Photo by Narsuitus.

Of course you’ll want a lens like this by your side when you tackle things like landscape, architectural and interior photography, but, for anything else, it’s usually excessive. Utilizing a lens like this for, say, portraits is the epitome of misuse because it’s not proper to just want a “cool” look to your portrait. The only thing you’ll end up with is such massive facial distortion that it’ll be laughable.

So before you shell out big bucks on wide-angle lenses, only use them for the right situation.

4. Overreliance on Your Photography Gear

Sure, great photography gear is always nice to have, and it can make your life as a photographer so much more effective at the right times. However, that’s the extent to which cool photography gear, such as that on this nifty Amazon webpage of some of the nicest photography gear you’ll ever see, will serve you.

Photography Mistakes 4
Never rely too much on even the fanciest photography gear. Photo by Mark Sebastian.

Real photographers know that they ought to depend on themselves and their creative thinking, first and foremost. You can’t substitute gear for a photographer’s knowledge, experience and creativity—that comes from you and your learning capability. At the end of the day, your digital camera is just a device.

A healthy way to approach thinking about all of your fancy equipment—such as your professional camera and lenses—is that you could’ve taken the same quality shots with cheaper equipment and just a bit more effort on your part!

5. The Dual Scourge of Overexposed and Underexposed Images

Let’s get something straight here: Overexposed images are those that are excessively bright, and underexposed images are those that are too dark due to inadequate light. Overexposed images can be caused by strong sunlight or flash while underexposed images can stem from failing to get in close enough to your subject, especially if you’re shooting inside.

Photography Mistakes 5
This is an overexposed picture; note the excessively dark and light sections. Photo by Horizon2035.

It’s typically quite easy to determine if you’ve just snapped some overexposed images. They may feature really dark or really light sections. On the other hand, underexposed images are just very dark all over.

To avoid taking overexposed images, don’t stand too near your subject if you’re using flash, and find some shade if you’re taking pictures of a subject on a sunny day. To avoid taking underexposed images, think about manually adjusting your digital camera’s shutter speed. You can also shoot closer to your subject and shoot closer to a window for extra light.

Photography Errors Make You Look Bad

Not knowing that you were committing any of these errors is not an excuse—it still makes you look bad that you were making them in the first place! But chin up. Now you know what’s not acceptable when it comes to taking pictures, so you can improve and make sure they never happen again. Don’t fret, though, because you’d be surprised at how many professional photographers keep slipping from time to time.

Photography Mistakes 6
You’ll feel ashamed if you make any of these errors. Photo by Kurt Dressler.

So how about it? Are you brave enough to divulge your worst photography errors? How many times have you committed the errors on this list? Maybe you have some errors that didn’t even make it here. In any case, don’t be shy, and tell us all about your worst photography errors in the comments section.

By Marc Schenker

Marc is a copywriter and content marketer who covered photography. These days, he runs The Glorious Company, a content marketing agency


  1. Valid points, but there’s a really good portrait of Lee Marvin on the set of Pocket Money, taken by Terry O’Neill, that uses a wide-angle lens (a 24mm, I believe).

    Which famous photographer was it that said that the use of a wide-angle lens would make the most beautiful wife look like a pig at a trough? Was it Henri Cartier-Bresson?

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