Hey, how’s it going? I’m Andy Jones and this is episode 126 of the Photography Side Hustle podcast.

This week’s episode is a day late due to two things. First, it’s Thanksgiving in Canada and second, we put a new window in our kitchen. So I’ve been busy and the podcast was pushed back just a little.

Anyway, this week’s episode is Common Mistakes 7.


Copying Other Photographers Too Closely

Now I do think you need to copy photographers whose work you admire. But, copying them constantly without developing your own style isn’t good.

Use other photographer’s style as a starting point and add to it. In most cases trying to copy someone else’s work isn’t easy, and you end up with different results anyway.

So if you decide to copy a style make sure to add your own flare.


Next is …

Not Embracing Failure

It doesn’t matter what you do in life you have to embrace your failures.

If you turn up to a photo session late and your customer is very upset, don’t just shrug your shoulders and say ah well. You need to accept you screwed up and figure out why. The most important thing is to avoid doing it again.

When you have some photos from a session that didn’t work out and can’t be used, you need to figure out why. It’s no good to ignore the problem and do the same thing at your next session.

Don’t get stressed out about screw-ups, just figure out where you went wrong, and don’t repeat them.

Unaware of Legal Considerations

Now this can be very costly, especially if you live in the US. Not protecting yourself is dangerous.

So make your customers sign contracts that lay out what they are hiring you for, and everything that you require from them.

Without a contract, you are leaving yourself open to being sued if things don’t turn out as expected.

Get yourself some business insurance that will cover you if you mess up, and don’t ignore this side of your business. 


Not using a Tripod or Monopod

There are plenty of times you will need to use either a tripod or a monopod. 

In low-light situations putting your camera on a tripod will allow you to use a slow shutter speed without the risk of getting a blurry photo.

If you want to shoot sports consider using a monopod. Lenses with focal lengths of 200mm and higher are heavy and using a monopod takes the strain away. It also reduces the chances of blurry images.

Next is …


Ignoring Depth of Field

If you have listened to me waffle on about depth of field you will know how important it is. 

If you’re not sure what depth of field is, listen to Episode 63 – Aperture and Depth of Field from July 10, 2022.

You need to control the depth of field in every photo you take. Doing this will allow you to make your subject the center of attention.

Here is an example: you are taking a portrait with a 50mm lens of a couple sitting on a farm gate, and behind them about 50 feet away are some trees.

If you used f/18 everything from right in front of you all the way to the trees would be in focus. The couple would be blended into the background.

If you know how depth of field works, you would choose f/4 so that the couple is in sharp focus and everything in the background would be soft and blurry. This makes the couple the center of attention.

So don’t ignore the depth of field.


No Portfolio or Website

If you want to make money as a photographer you need a portfolio and a website to put it on.

Without the website-portfolio combo, you are going to struggle to convince anyone to book you.

There isn’t much more to say about this, apart from you need to get a website and put a portfolio on it as soon as possible.


Not Engaging with the Photography Community

Now this can mean online on Facebook groups or any other social media platforms, or in person.

Back in 2008, I had a studio and decided to start a local strobist group. Strobist was a website all about off-camera flash, it was set up by photojournalist David Hobby.

So I invited local photographers to join me and try different off-camera flash techniques. There were 10 or 12 people that turned up and it didn’t turn out how I thought it would. 

None of them could shoot in manual mode, they all used AUTO. So the first meeting was me teaching how to shoot in manual mode.

Anyway, I ended up hiring one girl to do the Photoshop work at skating events. Another guy was a diving instructor and took photos of shipwrecks. I still check his photos out today.

By not being part of the photography community you will miss out on opportunities to learn, share, and collaborate with fellow photographers. So make a point of being a part of the photography community.


Next is …


I see this quite a lot, where the editing has gone so far that the whites and blacks have no detail at all. 

When you are editing you need to preserve the details in the shadows and highlights. You also need to make your subject stand out from the background, but if you overdo it they look like a bad Photoshop addition.

So keep an eye out for your whites and blacks, the highlights and shadows, and make sure they have detail.

Just do everything in moderation.


Not Using a Polarizing Filter

There are lots of times when a Variable Polarizing Filter is needed. They help reduce glare, reduce reflections, and enhance colors.

If you are taking a portrait next to a white-sided building or any surface that is bouncing light into your scene, try using a variable polarizer.

Landscape photographers use them a lot. Shooting a waterfall, a pond, or a river with a polarizer will remove the glare from the surface and allow you to capture things underwater. You get the same effect when wearing polarizing sunglasses.

When using a variable polarizer you can change the amount of polarization as needed.

The colors are more vibrant when you use a polarizer, creating more contrast in your image.

So instead of taking photos with too much glare, use a polarizer and take more usable photos.


Neglecting Maintenance

Not looking after your equipment, leads to reduced image quality, and not being able to work at 100% efficiency.

The obvious things are cleaning your lenses, and cleaning the camera sensor. But you need to look after everything you use. 

I have used a cheap monopod that kept sliding down while I was shooting. I missed so many shots that day because I tried to save money on a crappy monopod. 

When I did buy a good quality monopod I always had an Allen key in my bag so I could tighten the locks when needed.

My first camera bag was used until it fell apart, which wasn’t good because it was mid-session. The zipper locked up when fully opened, so I had a backpack full of lenses and accessories that I had to carry very carefully as we tried different locations in the park.

I knew it was close to failing as I had been having trouble with it for a few weeks. If I was shooting a wedding when that happened I would have been in big trouble.

Make sure all your equipment is working properly. Don’t take a risk and hope it makes it through a session replace anything that is not looking too good. Clean everything that needs to be cleaned and stay on top of your equipment. 


Okay so that is Common Mistakes 7

If you need help with anything you can find me in the Facebook group or through Facebook Messenger. I’ll also check out your website and portfolio and give you honest feedback.

My Photoshop course is available at 

Right, I’ll be back next week with an old camera bag full of waffle. Talk to you soon, bye.