Avoid these 5 mistakes! (Not related to camera)

Everyone makes mistakes. I did and still do. From creating film-rolls which were a total waste to present day digital files from which not even a decent image can be recovered.  Yes. I do commit mistakes and keep on doing so. Here is a list of non-technical mistakes that I find quite common (by me and my photography colleagues). Some of them are technical whereas others are related to expanding our visualization of photographs.

 

Horse driven carriage

(This moment enchanted me. There was this beautiful carriage, which looked right out of a fairy tale, on a cobbled road. In the background was an old building with wrought iron railing and lamp-post and even a couple of grilled windows for basement. The image as a whole is fine but is not powerful. It does not have the impact which all of the above subjects would have had individually. Maybe I should have clicked a shot of the carriage at slow shutter speed while panning, a close up of the lamp-post and a third photograph of the grill from an angle going from one end of the frame to the other.)

 

Visualization Mistakes

Mistake 1. Sharp image of a blurred concept
This is my favorite mistake which everyone makes. I am also guilty of this. A photographer should first visualize the image and then press the shutter release button. The image should stir the same feelings in the viewer that it did in the photographer. The image has to speak for itself. Do a quick google search for Pulitzer prize winning photographs or iconic photographs of some of the famous photographers (Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, Alfred Eisenstaedt, Irving Penn…. few names to start with, that come to my mind)

 

Mistake 2. Weak Composition
This mistake is also linked to the importance of concept outlined above. The impact has to be there. There are tricks that can help get the impact initially. Decentring the subject, eliminating everything that is not required from the frame, going close, leading the eye around, capturing the decisive moment, using color theory, cliches like fractals or frames, drama or tension within the elements of the image….. the list is endless. These can be good starting steps but one has to go beyond these. (Composition Clichés – Part I,Composition Clichés – Part II)

 

Mistake 3. Not visiting museums
This is something which every photographer should do. Museums have a collection of powerful artistic works. Paintings especially can help in developing strong visualization capabilities. Admiring the work of other artists and photographers on computer helps but not as much as actually seeing the real paintings. It is one of the easiest ways to strengthen visualization (A strong composition). Do read these too – Learning from Monet, Learning from Rembrandt

 

The Storm on the Sea of Galilee

(Rembrandt – The Storm on the Sea of Galilee, 1633.  Excellent use of the diagonal lines, placement of the subject, use of light and shade and the hues! Sadly, the painting is still missing after the robbery from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990. Photo : Creative Commons License)

 

Mistakes out of our habits

Mistake 4. Carrying excessive weight but forgetting to carry essentials
When I coach photographers, one question that I ask everyone in the group is to tell what equipment is there in the camera bag. The reply, followed by a check of the images clicked, shows how much of excess weight everyone carries. Unused lenses, filters, speedlights, sometimes even tripods/monopods which never get used. Excess weight is tiring and takes the zest out. Our subconscious mind looses the knack to visualize images. This has to be cut down. What do I find missing? Snacks, Water, Notepad and Pen. These four things are the best support system for any photographer planning to spend a long day photographing outside, away from the comfort of home or studio. I carry a chocolate or energy bar with a small water bottle. My doctor tells me to control weight but trust me when I say that nothing works better than a quick loading dose of calories for starting to visualize powerful images. If you are a nature photographer and consuming energy bars, then a small reminder – never leave anything in the wild (which definitely includes your energy bar wrapper) except for footprints and never take anything from the wild except for memories and photographs. More about my camera bag – Inside my camera bag

 

Mistake 5. Laziness
Landscape photographers swear by the golden hour which happens at sunrise and sunsets. Bird photographers spot the early birds before they even catch their worms. Street photographers shed their fear of people and strive to establish contact. Whatever be the genre, one has to be proactive to create great images. Laziness creeps in without knowing and takes a toll on the images. Ample amount of rest is required for the body to rejuvenate itself and creative juices to flow but this should not convert into laziness. For most hobbyists, the time available for photography is very limited. Make full use of it. More on time management and another one on laziness – Time Management & Photography, Getting out of laziness

 

Further Reading:
5 Common Technical Mistakes
Top 10 Photo-editing Traps

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