I’ve never taken any photography classes, everything i’ve learned, i’ve learned by doing it wrong first. And i think anybody who’s ever gotten into photography has experience going back and looking at their earlier stuff and screaming. There were some pretty severe photography sins that i used to commit, that i feel like i’ve overcome and i’m going to talk about them today.
- Not Shooting in RAW
I never shot in raw! For years. And i think this is probably the ultimate photographer’s sin people will judge you for and if you aren’t familiar with what raw is, versus jpegs, raw files are uncompressed, they’re the highest quality that you can shoot in, and they have a lot more data than other file types. They’re also massive and will take up a lot of storage, but the reason that shooting raw is so amazing is it gives you so much more flexibility in editing. I can shoot a raw photo where the subject is almost completely dark and you can’t see any details about them and i can completely recover the shadows in lightroom.
- Over Editing
Over editing. To be fair, i think anyone who has ever had an instagram account is guilty of this one, I mean there was a time where we actually thought that over saturated/clarifying filters like kelvin and x-pro looked good, and brokeh hearts, remember that? when you could not post a photo without some brokeh, like some really fake bokeh accent just hanging out in the photo. And the tricky thing with editing is when you’ve stared at a photo for a really long time, your calibration for what looks normal gets completely thrown off, I will spend like an hour editing a photo and i will think “wow, this looks great” and then i’ll get up and walk away from the computer and do something else for a little bit and when i come back i’ll look at the photo and be like “oh my god what have i done to my skin?” and my skin is like straight up orange, which when i was in the editing rabbit hole i thought “oh this looks really glowy, i look like i’ve been on vacation” when in reality, i just look like Donald J Trump. So now i have mandatory editing breaks, when i think i’ve finished editing an image i have to take a break and come back later with different eyes.
I overexposed everything when professional looking photos started becoming more popular on instagram. I kept seeing these feeds that were so light, godly, airy and beautiful and i assumed the way to achieve that was just to crank up your exposure, but as it turns out that’s not usually how that’s done, it’s usually done in editing, so i ended up with all of these photos with a completely white sky, when you’ve overblown the highlights so much that you can’t even tell.. like it could be cloudy, it could be a pink sunset, you have no idea what that sky looked like.
- Not Shooting Unless the Conditions are Perfect
Not shooting unless the conditions are ideal. I always just wanted to live in a world where every sunrise and sunset is a perfect golden hour, but i’m continually finding that sometimes it’s the imperfect conditions that create the coolest images. I went on a field trip last year and it rains a lot in the inside passage of the Elwah River, but i ended up getting some really amazing foggy, rainy images and video that just wouldn’t have been as cool if it had been perfectly sunny.
- Shooting at too Wide of an Aperture
Shooting at too wide of an aperture. I feel like this is a rite of passage for everybody with photography. At some point you get your first wide aperture lens maybe it’s an f2, a1.4, a 1.2 and you’re so blown away by the depth of field it can create that you just start shooting everything with the lens wide open no matter what, and for a long time i did this to a fault because i really like a shallow depth of field. I would take photos where the eyes are in focus but the nose is out of focus and i just had this assumption that a shallower depth of field inherently made an image look higher quality, when a lot of times it actually distracted from the image.
- Sticking to the Rules
Sticking to the rules too much, specifically the rule of thirds, which says that an image should be divided with lines on all of the thirds making a nine square grid, and important elements should be placed along the lines or their intersections. I learned this in school, and essentially this is a great rule for a lot of compositions, but i definitely used to use it too much, or i felt like I had to use it, that this was the only composition to use. I always admire photographers who are good at breaking the rules and thinking outside of the box, because i think that’s really how you get those once in a lifetime amazing shots, because they’re not the standard composition.
I’m learning new stuff about photography every single day. And I can’t wait to get more opportunities to see new places and get better at capturing those once in a lifetime moments on camera.