6 Wrong Ideas That Will Stop You From Improving Your Photography

6 Wrong Ideas That Will Stop You From Improving Your Photography

A lot of things are said about photography that are not always correct. Many photographers might get the wrong idea about a lot of things. Are you one of those photographers?

Do you read discussions about equipment, about old technologies and how the newer types of cameras are supposed to be so much better? Or perhaps you believe manual mode is the only serious way of setting up your camera. Maybe you are one of those photographers that is convinced shooting JPEG without editing is the only real truth. Or do you think shooting in raw is scary?

If you do, you are not the only one. I believe, no I am convinced, a lot of these things are not the truth. Perhaps it is based on something real, but slowly grown into something completely different. I believe these things will prevent you from growing in photography, or at least build some barrier that makes it difficult to grow. I have gathered six wrong ideas that will prevent you from improving your photography in some way or another.

1. Thinking Post-Processing Is Not Necessary

Believe it or not, there are still a lot of people that think a photo can be produced without post-processing. Some even refuse to believe a photo cannot exist without some kind of post-processing. Because if you don’t do it yourself, the camera you use will do it for you with the settings that are programed by the camera manufacturer.

When you let the camera do the post-processing, you will end up with an average image that often has no punch or too much punch. The standard post-processing programed in a camera is only optimized for a very limited amount of average photos.

By post-processing the images yourself, you can optimize the settings with every image and with every light situation. Perhaps the most important of all, you can compensate for the limitations of a digital sensor, making the image more like the human eye will see it.

Post-processing will take your photos to the next level.

Post-processing will take your photos to the next level.

2. Thinking Shooting Raw Is Too Difficult

Shooting raw will give you the flexibility to improve your images a lot. Small mistakes in exposure, white balance, and a lot of other things can be corrected without a loss in quality. And with software like Lightroom and Luminar, it is very easy to make the perfect JPEG image from your raw file.

Don't be afraid of raw file format. It won't bite, and the modern software is friendly enough to make it easy.

Don't be afraid of raw file format. It won't bite, and modern software is friendly enough to make it easy.

3. Being a Natural Light Photographer

Are you only shooting with natural light? In that case, you might call yourself a natural light photographer. It means you will rely on high ISO values when light is not present and ugly shadows when the light is not good.

Or are you shooting as a natural light photographer because you don’t know how to use flash? In any case, you are limiting yourself and not able to produce the best photos in every light situation.

Often, the excuse is about unnatural results with flash. But if you practice and even take courses, you will find out that flash is very versatile, and you are able to blend the flash with the ambient light. That way, you are a natural light photographer and flash photographer at the same time.

Don't limit yourself by ignoring the tools that can improve your photography. Only be a natural light photographer when the situation is perfect for it.

Don't limit yourself by ignoring the tools that can improve your photography. Only be a natural light photographer when the situation is perfect for it.

4. Believing a Good Exposure Is Only Achievable in Manual Mode

I do find this one of the strangest beliefs among photographers. Some even believe a photo will be more beautiful when shot in manual mode. 

When shooting in manual, you need to have an idea of what settings to choose. You rely on the exposure meter inside the camera, looking at the scale that indicates how much stops you are away from the correct exposure. You have to dial the settings in until it is okay. Did the light situation change? Then you have to correct again. When shooting in aperture priority or shutter priority you let the camera take care of one of the settings, making it very easy to adapt to changing light situations.

Or course, there are situation when shooting in manual has its benefits, but semiautomatic modes can be beneficial too. A good exposure is a good exposure, regardless of how the settings are made.

There is nothing wrong of shooting manual, just like it is perfectly alright to use aperture and shutter priority. Ignoring these possibilities is like keep shooting with the first cameras that had a light meter.

There is nothing wrong with shooting in manual, just like it is perfectly alright to use aperture and shutter priority.

5. Shooting Too Many Photos of the Same Subject

Do you take a lot of photos? Well, I do. But after importing all those images into the computer, we need to sort them out, select them, and choose the best out of… well, how many did you take?

Just look back to those images, and discover how many are exactly the same or almost the same? Could you have sufficed with just one or two images instead of 10 or 20?

Shooting too many images is like prize shooting. The more images, the greater the chance there is also a good one. Photographing is not about quantity, but about quality. Perhaps you should have looked at the subject a little bit better. Perhaps you could have looked for the best composition, the best angle, the best moment, instead of shooting with the hope you would capture the perfect shot.

Some kinds of photography do benefit from shooting a lot, but not always, and not every kind of photography needs a lot of photos. Just take your eye from your camera more often. Perhaps you end up importing just a couple of pictures that are really good, instead of many photos that are nothing but mediocre.

Shooting too many images of the same thing is a waste of time. Unless you are shooting sports or animals in action like this, of course

Shooting too many images of the same thing is a waste of time. Unless you are shooting sports or animals in action like this, of course

6. Publishing Too Many Photos Online

The last thing relates to the previous one. I see a lot of photographers publishing a batch of images online that are practically the same. The differences are in the details that are not always obvious. Sometimes, these photographers even ask your opinion. They want you to decide which is the best.

Consider this when you take the best photo ever, a perfect shot with amazing light and a composition that is really amazing. When posting this image online, it will become an unique image. It will be one of a kind. Imagine, when you take the same image five times, with some small, insignificant differences in focal length, composition, or exposure. Suddenly, that unique image will become not so unique anymore. It is one of many, and thus become mediocre.

My advice is to just show the world your best work, not the second best, or third best, not even different versions of a perfect shot. If people only see your best work, they will be amazed by your work and tell everyone how good you are.

If you have produced an image, don't ask your followers on Facebook to choose between two versions. Make your own decision. That is the only thing that matters.

If you have produced an image, don't ask your followers on Facebook to choose between two versions. Make your own decision. That is the only thing that matters.

What Do You Think?

Perhaps you can think of a few wrong ideas yourself that I did not mention. Please leave a comment with your wrong ideas that can prevent you from improving your photography. I love to read what you come up with.

Log in or register to post comments

57 Comments

Stoopy McPheenis's picture

This article is excellent! Really great advice.

Richard Twigg's picture

Bracing for the screaming about #3 in 5....4....3....2...

jim hughes's picture

Yes I expected that too. I hate flash.

Nando Harmsen's picture

I am curiuos. Can you explain why you hate it?

jim hughes's picture

I think flash always looks just a bit like flash. Like when my Dad used those P25 bulbs that went off like atom bombs. And because when people know you're using flash, they start fixing their hair and posing.

Ok in reality, because I don't know how to use it right and I'm not really much interested in photos of people anyway.

Nando Harmsen's picture

hahaha
A beautiful answer. I love your honesty in the last paragraph and I love those P25 bulb from the old days. That was really FLASH with capital letters.

Eric Robinson's picture

Martin Parr one of the most successful UK based photographers has built one part of his career of using flash, often on camera, in a very creative way. Go check him out.

Possibly McNalley, or Syl Arena... doesn't matter who particularly... stated something on the lines of "use the available light!" followed by "and if the available light is a strobe/speedlight, use that!" When I was learning about light in photography this was the statement that drilled it home. I've only improved my photography because of it (using artificial lighting correctly, meaning... to get the result I am envisioning). Also, this applies to many more situations that portraiture (Jim).

Nando Harmsen's picture

That is a nice quote
I have to remember that one...

jim hughes's picture

Good post. Many readers no doubt have their favorite myths they'd like to explode, but the points made here are subtle.

I have a couple axes I like to grind whenever I get a chance. One is the misconception that "moving up to Full Frame" is going to somehow instantly make your photos better because... well... it's "Full". Another is that anyone ever really cares about sharpness in the corners.

Nando Harmsen's picture

I had that one about full frame also in the original idea of this article, but I skipped it. Perhaps for another one, part 2.
Abou corners is also a good one. Thanks

Patrick Rosenbalm's picture

Good article!! Spot on in my book!!

Trafford Steele's picture

That you should not use AUTO ISO

Eric Robinson's picture

Auto ISO while shooting wildlife is for me essential.

Nando Harmsen's picture

I agree, auto-ISO is wonderful.

Wolfgang Post's picture

Good article, although I can hear the Followers of the Manual Mantra already in the background ..
Not sure about the intention of #5. I can see several situations where this is simply required:
1) Testing various settings or equipment
2) Testing different angles
3) Different / changing light conditions, subject movements ..
At the end one might have hundreds of pictures to see what works and how / what to do (or skip) next time. But that also goes hand in hand with #6: don't post all that online, unless one runs an educational blog.

Nando Harmsen's picture

That is true. If it has a reason, its perfectly okay. But sometimes I see people shooting a nice scenery over and over again,within minutes. Then I ask myself why? As if they forget to look at the scenery.

I think that the last point in particular is a reason why Social Media isn’t for photography

Nando Harmsen's picture

I don't think it has a direct correlation with social media. I saw this happen in photography forums as well, when social media was not yet establishes as today.

I'm a 13 year old kid interested in photography, and maybe i'm just feeling this bcos i don't have much experience (shooting for 4 years)

but why do u HAVE TO post process an image if ur happy with the unedited photo?

Nando Harmsen's picture

Shooting in raw will give you not the optimal quality regarding to contrast, details and that sort of things. You need post-processing to have the best possible quality

Eric Robinson's picture

I thinks that’s a good question, one that one day you will have the answer to.

Nando, you are very correct. I may add:
7. Believing in technology rather than talent or skills.
You can carry a bag full of lenses and two bodies around (sometimes it makes sense though), you still can shoot with one body and lens at the time only. It is not the gear, it is the photographer.

Nando Harmsen's picture

Thank you for this good advice.
I had four additional things, and your advice was one of those. Perhaps I will make a follow up

Stuart Carver's picture

Believing you are better than you actually are is a massive blocker on improvement, thats in literally everything in life, not just photography.

Also one i seem to pick up on the internet all the time is people claiming to have a 'soft copy' of a lens or 'slow auto focus' etc... those people need to take a longer look at themselves and think about if they actually do believe their own BS.

Stoopy McPheenis's picture

Over-confidence can certainly hurt a career, but lack of confidence will hurt it more.

Stuart Carver's picture

Yeah its definitely a fine line, there is a difference between being confident in your ability and being confidently deluded though. Like im confident i have the skills to go out and capture a shot im aiming for, but i need to work on composition and working with light as im nowhere near good enough, that knowledge of being nowhere near good enough means ill definitely get better because i will consciously aim to improve.

More comments