Ep 181: 4 Common photography mistakes made by newbies and pros and how to fix them

Are you making one of these four common photography mistakes? Whether you’re a newbie or a pro, this episode covers common mistakes and, most importantly, uncovers how you can fix them.

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89-Year-Old Japanese Grandma Discovers Photography, Can’t Stop Taking Hilarious Self-Portraits Now

Listener Photo Ctritique

What can I do to make this image look better? It was a dreary day and the flash wasn’t working right. Thanks for all the help.

Above image by Betty J Douglass Dye

Sample of edited image with Lightroom adjustments.

4 common photography mistakes made by newbies and pros

Mistake number 1: Focus

In low light or brightly backlit scenarios I ask my model to hold a smartphone in front of their face. This makes it really easy for the camera to focus.
Focus point is over the eye
Focus point is over the ear

Mistake number 2: Composition

  • Camera angle can change everything
  • Portraits keep the eyes in the top third of the frame
  • Landscapes rule of thirds
  • Pre visualise images
  • Compose in camera
  • Use the camera’s rule of thirds grid
Above: The most flattering places to crop a headshot
Above: A headshot looks visually more dynamic if the eyes are in the top third of frame
Above: Giving your model space to look into will also create a visually more dynamic looking image.

Mistake number 3: White balance

  • White balance or color balance is about the colour cast of an image
  • An image with correct WB is all about achieving a white in the image that looks Neutral
  • If you shoot under flouro  lights with white balance set to daylight, the image will look green or magenta
  • If you set your WB to flouro the cast will be gone
  • If I shoot in a house with old school tungsten bulbs the light is very warm or has a yellow cast
  • If I change my WB setting to tungsten I’ll then have a more neutral image
White balance icons on a camera

My Process

  • I set my colour temp to 5200 which is a good representation of daylight
  • I shoot in RAW
  • If colour is crucial (product/advertising/skin tone) I use a grey card to create a neutral base
  • Adjust WB in post
  • If I forget, I select a neutral tone in the image
  • Look for a good white (not blown out)
  • Tweak WB by eye.

Studio-98 20 X 20″ Inch (50 X 50 Cm) White Balance 18% Grey Gray Reference Reflector Card Collapsible Foldable with a Smaller Zippered Carry bag
Digital Grey Card

Mistake number 4: Light

Take baby steps:

  1. Shoot with daylight
  2. Use an umbrella
  3. Move on to softbox/umbrella box/octabox
  4. Then use Grids
  5. After that, try beauty dishes
  6. Then try mixing lighting styles


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About Gina

Gina Milicia is one of the most widely known and respected photographers in Australia. She is the master of capturing that ‘magical moment’... READ MORE

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