Common Mistakes #1
Centering your subject in all images
Centering the subject in all your images isn’t great. It is fine in lots of situations like headshots, but not everything. I want you to think of the Rule of Thirds. The Rule of Thirds divides your image into 9 equal sections using two lines vertically and two horizontally. If you still don’t know what it is, google it. The idea is you put points of interest at the junction of the lines or on the lines. A point of interest could be someone’s head or eye.
If you take a photo using the center focus point you need to crop the image in processing to move the point of interest. The problem is the image is cropped and smaller. If it’s cropped too much you might not be able to get a large print done.
So the best way is to think about the Rule of Thirds when shooting. Place the subject so that their eye is roughly at the junction of two of the lines. You need to imagine where the lines are and change the focus point accordingly to the point of interest which is normally the closest eye.
This will reduce the number of times you crop your images and speed up the processing time.
The Rule of Thirds will make a huge difference to your work.
Cutting things off at the edge of the frame
When I see a portrait of a family and someone only has one arm in the frame or everyone’s feet are cut off, my blood pressure starts to shoot up. OK, everyone takes one of those pics from time to time, but you should delete them, not show the world.
As you frame the image check the edges and make sure everything is in the frame. I’m not saying everyone has to be whole, just don’t cut people off at the ankle, the waist is OK.
Thinking that having a great camera is enough
Having a great camera won’t change your quality. If you can’t get great results with an entry-level camera, you won’t with a $4000 camera. The only way to produce excellent photos consistently is to learn how to control your camera and the available light.
Knowing 5 or 6 poses will help you way more than an expensive camera. I would guess that 99.9% of your customers wouldn’t know the difference between a Canon T7 and a 5D MK4. All they want is good-quality photos. If you don’t understand how to light your subjects it doesn’t matter how much your equipment costs, the images will be the same with either camera.
Taking attention away from the main subject
You want your photos to draw the viewer’s eye to the subject. If you capture something in your photo that is unrelated to the main subject it will pull the viewer’s eye to it. I was looking around online for examples and came across a photo of a church, in the foreground, someone is getting into a car. If the photographer had waited 1 minute they would have driven away and the distraction would be gone.
For me, the biggest cause of distractions is using too deep a depth of field. When everything is in focus, everything demands your attention. A shallow depth of field gives a blurry bokeh, and because only the subject is in focus the eye is drawn to it. So if you are shooting a portrait pull your subject away from the background and use a shallow depth of field. In processing, you can use vignetting to concentrate the viewer’s eye on the subject. Vignetting creates a darkening or lightening around the subject. There is a setting for this in Lightroom.
The next mistake expands on distractions
Not looking at what is behind your subject
Not checking out what is behind your subject is something all photographers do at some point. Before you point the lens at your subject, take a look around for a nice-looking background. Even if the background is a beautiful forest, try different angles. Make sure the tree branches don’t look like they are coming out of the subject’s head.
Taking a portrait with a parking lot behind them, or people walking by. You want the background to be passive.
It only takes a few seconds to check before you take the photo. If you don’t you will have a large collection of images that you can’t use. Your customers will spot the issues straight away. So get into the habit of qualifying the background before you position your subject.