Are You Guilty of Any of These Bad Photography Habits?

Are You Guilty of Any of These Bad Photography Habits?

There are things professional photographers do that are almost certain to get them placed on Santa’s “bad guy” list. Are you guilty of committing any of these photography "sins"?

Tis the season to own up to some of those habits or moments that you may not be so proud of. I took a few minutes to inquire among colleagues about some of those less-than-professional habits. Here are a few of the responses I received.

Neglecting to Clean Equipment 

It appears that even the busiest photographers are guilty of neglecting to service their gear. We all know this isn’t a wise practice and that proper maintenance is a requirement associated with any mechanical device. Most manufactures recommend having your cameras inspected once every one to two years. The environment you expose your gear to will obviously play a role in how often you clean and service your equipment.

I’ve owned and used my Nikon D810’s since their release. They’ve never been cleaned. I’m going to hell for sure.


While some may have the confidence to shoot a remarkable set of images without ever needing to peek at the LCD on the back of their camera, others admit to a practice referred to as chimping.

I get anxiety if I don’t at least peek at my LCD screen every now and then during a set. I admit that I do it a lot less if other photographers are nearby.

Forgetting Memory Cards

If you’ve ever reached for memory cards that you neglected to include in your kit, you know the sinking feeling that comes following the realization that you’ve forgotten one of the most essential pieces of your shoot.  

Last week, I was asked to come to a private airstrip for an emergency recon of the wildlife reserve I'm staying at. A member of the anti-poaching unit thought that he heard a shot. Four of us jumped into the chopper. Just as we were about to take off, I realized that I had forgotten my SD cards. I didn't say anything. The pilot/land owner/South African Crocodile Dundee/sharpshooter circled the interesting areas a second time. 'I'll just circle again for Mike.' I recorded it on my shi**y Honor 9 phone camera. He hasn't asked for the footage yet. I've a sinking feeling that I'm going to be used as leopard bait.

Shooting Group Portraits at f/1.4 or f/2 on Accident

Ever relied on aperture priority mode during an event, shooting at apertures like f/1.4 or f/2 and forget to switch to a more appropriate aperture for group portraits? Umm, yeah, me either. It’s always a facepalm moment when you realize most of the party in your group portraits are out of focus.

Faking the Funk to Land a Job

When potential clients call you up to do a type of job you’ve never done before, but you just act like it’s an everyday thing to land the gig. 'Oh that’s no problem at all, I can give you my standard quote for that.'

No One Is Perfect

We’re all likely guilty of photography practices we’re not exactly proud of. Whether you’re the type that sticks their finger in the cake while shooting a wedding to taste that delicious frosting before anyone else gets their paws on it, or you’re a repeat offender of chimping during a shoot, there’s help for you somewhere. I think.

Confess your photography sins in the comments below.

Lead image by Free-Photos via Pixabay.

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Adriano Brigante's picture

Neglecting to clean equipment: Guilty.
I own and use dozens of old film cameras and cleaning them all is a huge task, so I admit I don't clean them as often as I should.

Chimping: Not guilty.
What's an LCD screen? :) I'll see my pictures when I get home and develop the negatives (sometimes, this takes place months later...)

Forgetting memory cards (or in my case, film): Not guilty.
I've never forgotten to take film with me. As a matter of fact, I usually take a lot more than I need.

Shooting Group Portraits at f/1.4 or f/2 on Accident: Not guilty.
All my cameras are manual only. So I have to check the settings before each shot. Plus, I only have a handful of lenses that open wider than 2.8, so...

Faking the Funk to Land a Job: Not guilty
I don't shoot pictures for clients. I sell prints to clients, so I don't need to fake it, because they know in advance what they're buying.

My personal bad habit: Carrying too many cameras in my bag.
I usually don't know in advance what I'll be shooting, so I often take too many different cameras in my bag, just in case: a medium format TLR camera (because I just love TLRs), a 35mm SLR camera (because having 36 shots per roll is cool), an old box camera (because I've wanted to try this one for a while), an old folding camera (because it doesn't take much space in the bag, so I might as well take it too), and what the hell, let's also take a pinhole camera (because you never know when you gonna need one)...

I shoot film and digital. I turned image review off on my 5D III.

Zac Henderson's picture

I've definitely forgotten cards before. Worst feeling in the world.

And I guarantee you have about 6 of them lying around...

Mr Hogwallop's picture

I often wonder why, on a photo related website, the writers often use a RF stock photo instead of their own...

Cleaning- I have never ever seen a manufacturer recommend cleaning the camera every year or two. Maybe I never read an entire manual but the only thing I may have read was clean with a soft cloth when needed. Don't dunk in a bucket of soapy water. I do know people send their camera in to clean the sensor, but they do an oil change every 3000 miles
Chimping - If the shot is important I will chimp. If I am getting paid for it I will chimp. If I am collaborating with others I will chimp. Maybe because in the film days it cost $1 a Polaroid to chimp. Today it's free :)
Forgetting - I have a card holder in the case and I also have a couple old cards stashed in my car, or the strobe case or laptop case just in case. When I was assisting the photographer put the wrong case of 8x10 holders in the van instead of the one I had loaded. We did get the second case of holders to the location on time but that was burned into my brain.
Groups at f2 - No but I have shot at f5.6 when it should have been F8, good thing I chimped. :)
Faking the Funk - Never heard that term before but I like it! I have had clients say they liked how I shot the one project, can I get a similar look/style/feel shooting shooting a very different project. I say sure, let's do it. But I don't lie and say that I can do something I know I can'.t
Bad habit - Over shooting and over packing. As a test I took one camera and a 35mm f1.4. with a 8GB card. Everything was fine.

Neglecting to clean equipment: Not Guilty, I'm pretty good cleaning and prepping before a shoot :-)

Chimping: Not guilty ish… I do quite a lot of tethered shooting so... :-D but when I'm not tethered I keep looking at the screen to a minimum

Forgetting memory cards: Not guilty, Firstly nearly all of my cameras have 2 card slots. The second slot is always filled with a standby card that is very rarely used, so very really taken out. Before any shot I will do prep, this involves checking and formatting cards.... however... once or twice the standby card has been used... :-]

Shooting Group Portraits at f/1.4 or f/2 on Accident: guilty ish… F2.8 lens wide open... not great...

Faking the Funk to Land a Job: Not guilty Bullshitting is a bad idea...

My bad habits... I would have to refer you to my assistant... lol

Chimping is not a sin. Neglecting to chimp is a sin.

Ed Sanford's picture

Chimping actually gives you a chance to correct a stupid mistake....

isnt this one, of the many many reasons, that we shoot DSLR?

Richard Twigg's picture

I don't understand chimping - what does that make shooting tethered? Super chimping? Elite chimping?

What the heck is wrong with "chimping"? If you want to check what you just took why not? Isn't that one of the benefits /advancements made over film so that one can correct or instantly be satisfied with what one captured?

Haha. Guilty as charged. More in the early days. Not much now. My biggie was checking that everything was in the bag only to see after arriving at the shoot that the camera was no where to be seen. Shooting wildlife with a mobile phone was not an option. :)

Vincent Alongi's picture

Calling out someone for chimping is snobbish. I want to make sure I got my shot - composition, focus, etc. It's called checking my work. I'd rather chimp and re-shoot, than to get home and realize I missed the shot. Can you say cutting off your nose to spite your face? Nah. I'll chimp the key family shot, thanks.

Not a pro but sometimes when both camera and speedlight are set to manual, I forget to adjust the settings. Chimping? On one Facebook group that I follow, they constantly preach to check the histogram and blinkies. The group is very big on using the gray card for setting exposure and white balance.

Jordan McChesney's picture

I've never heard of "Chimping" before, but why anyone would consider it a "sin" or a "bad habit" is beyond me. The idea of "Chimping" doesn't really apply if you're shooting a moving subject handheld, especially in low light. Not checking your photo and just packing up would be negligent, which is the real sin.

Sean Sauer's picture

Nothing wrong with "faking the funk" (lol) to get a job and it's not a bad habit. Being deceptive to a client is wrong but the only way to gain experience is to take on new types of work and learn from them. If you act like you've never been there before you won't get the work. You could get stuck in your career if you don't (what we use to call) "fake it until you make it" on a certain level. In today's world of tutorials online learning how to do a paticular job is readily available.

stir photos's picture

i was taught that chimping was spending too much time looking for settings and/or spending too much time trying to figure out what you were trying to do and/or fix- not simply looking at the screen briefly. but, i don't spend too much time looking for my settings or figuring shit out on the fly any longer. yay! :)

i forgot memory cards before... once i had zero (fucking ZERO, not even one haha). it's funny cos i always likened this to running out of gas, "who does this" is what i always thought until i did it. haha. another time i had a single card with me (and it was one of my oldest one's)...

never faked it; have shot groups wider open and as long as folks were in focus it was cool; and not a necessarily a great cleaner of my equipment, but eh.... the worst i've ever had go wrong due to cleaning negligence is that i had a spot on a lens once; again, eh...

absolutely my worst habit is not practicing enough, with trying to do too many things in a single shoot a close second. i'm also forever at the mercy of my a.d.d. whereby i'm the worst planner, and the worst at losing stuff.

of course, i'm an amateur, i don't take photography (or anything else) too seriously, and when all's said and when all's done, i always remember my grandmother words, "don't worry, everything works out in the end."

Nothing wrong with occasionally checking your pics. It's better to know if you need to make an adjustment than to waste your whole day. Not chimping is like saying, look ma, no hands! just before you crash your bike. Not necessarily a point of pride.

Deleted Account's picture

I turned the LCD screen off (auto review) on my camera and the battery lasts much longer