These 7 Bad Habits Scream “Amateur Photographer”

These 7 Bad Habits Scream "Amateur Photographer"

This article from PictureCorrect was written by photographer Ray Salisbury.

I’m ashamed to admit it but whenever I’m doing a photoshoot I am relying on a single memory card. Well, at least I have one card for each of my cameras, so I’m not completely lost if one of them fills up or gets destroyed… But still, I know I should be prepared for the worst!


Same old story: you buy a new camera, put the box away and the camera’s manual stays inside the plastic bag. Perhaps you were too eager to use your new gadget. Well, now it’s time to dig out the manual, and attack it with a highlighter pen.

Be methodical, and diligently work through each function of your camera. You may find features you didn’t know existed!


Ignore the rules of composition at your peril. If you want your photos to stand out, learn and use the Rule of Thirds rather than place your focal point bang in the middle, like most folks do, (in blissful ignorance). Or, add dynamic by tilting your camera at an angle. Don’t forget to try different types of framing: portrait orientation versus landscape orientation. Or even a really wide panoramic crop.


Look for a simple background behind your subject. For example, avoid having a telephone pole in the distance that appears to protrude from a person’s head. If you have a long lens, you can employ a narrow depth-of-field to blur the background. This will isolate your subject from the clutter beyond, achieving a degree of separation.


Constantly checking your images on the LCD display is called chimping. Nothing wrong with it, unless you’re into street photography or at a wedding or party. You may miss that decisive moment, as you’re too engrossed in the perfectionistic tendency of chimping.


Those little storage cards are expensive, but the temptation to be frugal will bite you on the bum. Murphy’s Law states that your memory card will fill up precisely when you’re shooting that money shot, when the light is right, or when the entire group is all smiling at you. The remedy? Buy more memory cards.


Amateur shutterbugs tend to hold the camera at head-height. However, this will produce predictable results. When shooting in a location, learn to ‘work the scene’. Drop to your knees, or even lie on the ground, searching for fresh angles. An aerial perspective can be stunning. Remember that the best tool of composition is your feet.


We all take poor pictures, badly exposed or blurry, but there’s no need to inflict these on the unsuspecting public! Carefully select only your best images, then process these on the computer.

Read the full article over at PictureCorrect.

Source: PictureCorrect


This article was written by an amateur.

If you’re shooting people, you want to be around eye level. Go ahead and take a picture of a selfie queen from the ground up and see what happens.

As for chimping, I head a lot of “pros” say not to do it. But if you have shot at least one wedding, you’ll know that you need to chimp when shooting formals, especially these days since people behind you are whipping out their cell phones to distract members of the bridal party. Also check for people blinking, and people who moved and are now in a shadow or blocked by someone else’s head. Don’t chimp and lose out on potential sales.

I shoot twelve hour weddings and don’t have to change out my memory cards ever. Get a large enough memory card and you’ll never have a problem. “oh but the memory card might fail on you.” Not if you buy a well known brand, treat it right, and format ever time you stick it in your camera.

Take a highlighter to the camera manual?? That’s amateur work. Any pro obsesses over brand new gear. None of us are dropping coin on a new body we don’t understand. We will read 1,000 articles, compare it with everything available on the market, and even write our own blog about it’s features before ever touching it. Pros geek out on gear and they buy what they already know inside and out.

youube can be your friend and answer many questions you might have, also you can learn so much more bout your camera i shoot nikon and love it

Only 2 comments. First I am an amateur photographer. I like to consider myself a good one as well. I will never be a professional because I don’t want to do it for a living, I do it for myself and a few friends. Amateur does not mean bad just as much as professional doesn’t mean good.
Second. I do post a ton of pics, even some of the bad ones. Why? because I do my kids sports. and sometiems even though it isn’t perfect, it gets the play which will evoke the memory of that play in the future.
Other than those 2 I think this is spot on.

Ther’s more than one type of photography. What you’re describing is photo journalistic style. Different shots of a sporting event that may look similar, mean different things to different people (parents, fans etc.)
I think the point of not showing every picture relates more to a gallery situation – where you want to only display your best work. It’s good advice if you don’t want to bore the crap out of people with a collection of similar pics as ‘art’ rather than coverage.

I say unto thee…..just because continuous shooting produces a pile of images is no cotton picking reason anything but your best of any hour of the day should be showing let alone comments, excuses why anything, or that you judge and speak of the value of your own images.

1.) A bad background can sometimes be negated with a limited depth of field, and putting the background out of focus.
2.) The Camera manual…. There is always something that I find new about my cameras when I go back and read the manual. Something that I never paid any attention at any previous time that I looked at the manuals. I also always download an electronic version of my manuals in addition to the paper manuals. Things about your cameras will catch your attention in one medium that you skipped over in the other.
3.) The rules of composition are a guideline. Not an iron-clad rule. Always consider what you are doing and why you are doing it. Don’t let the rules of composition get in the way of being creative.

Great advice ! Especially in regard to Depth of Field isolating your subject from a background that’s busy or not appealing . Sometimes it has just the right color or shadows , shapes that when dropped out of focus the subject will just POP out from it and turn into a great shot !
Learning DOF is crucial !

bad background? that’s what photoshop is for, right?

glad to see the list didn’t include “chimping”, as that is sometimes necessary in varying light environments (or for portraits, to check for blinking).

but the over-posting of photos gets me. i take pictures for my church, and only post the best 20 or so from any event. But another lady (who uses either her phone or a cheap point & shoot, i can’t tell), posts HUNDREDS. Just dumps them all into a facebook album. WTF? Who are those for?

Who are they for? Sometimes the reasons for dumping are not in the slightest related to any photography values. The same individual often displays other personal shortcomings that are also excessive. On sites where no rules or critique is exercised the oddball and unusual should be expected. At the very best I think these situations are in the category of one-ups-mans-ship.

bob, The list did include “chimping”, sorry. Sometimes it is necessary to see if the shutter speed is fast enough to stop blurring, blinking, etc. There are times that I have to chimp.

Worthless drivel? No, not really. I came here because of some critical comments on FB, but thought that these weren’t bad things for a beginner/amateur to be mindful of (I’m a professional photographer and have been since graduating from Pratt in the ’90s.)

One of the most illuminating assignments I had: go into Manhattan and expose a roll without once looking through your viewfinder. The happy surprises in composition as a result of breaking the frame, unexpected dynamics, etc. taught me the importance of pushing boundaries and the notion of what I THINK I know.

I “chimp” regularly. I did it yesterday. I was photographing some interesting houses in a tricky lighting situation; my through the lens light meter took powder a while ago, but I know enough about exposure to get the right f/stop and aperture setting 95% of the time. I thought I had the exposure, I looked, and I was wrong. It took me two more shots before I nailed the exposure.

I also “chimp” because (having learned on film for many years), I still enjoy seeing the results and with my DSLRs I can see the results immediately.

I also “chimp” because I can see if there are any problem in the photo (horizon isn’t straight, tree growing out of my wife’s ear, things like that).

“Chimping” can save a photo experience. This year I finally visited the Grand Canyon; the night before I took some night time photos and changed the ISO; I forgot to change it back. I took two photos of the Canyon, saw how over exposed they were, and promptly changed the ISO.

You may laugh at me as being an amateur, but I will continue to chimp. All of this writing has made me hungry, I need a banana.

I don’t think “chimpin” is a bad thing. Checking exposure and white balance in focus? Sometimes it is better to fix it in the field rather discover you had forgotten to turn off some feature of your camera..

Totally disagree with “chimping”. At live events it is critical to monitor images that are being recorded. Live events only happen once. Quickly reviewing images is imperative and if you don’t it will bite you someday guaranteed. If you miss things because of it you are doing it wrong.

I think articles like this are a bit ridiculous. If you are going to write an article like this include when you might and might not do these things. PLENTY of amazing images are centered. It is its own kind of composition. All photographers are on a journey and we go through some of these stages. I Am so over photographers being so arrogant about rules when all pros know we break rules all the time. Don’t make new photographers feel like if they do this it screams they are “less then” which is what you are saying amateur is in this article. Rather talk about how we all have gone through these stages and discuss when it is even good to know when to sometimes break away from rules.

About chomping, as it’s apparently called. Keep in mind that s a professional photographer we are shooting manual. This requires constant adjustment particularly when I’m shooting events outside as I frequently do with varying lighting conditions and especially in sporting events. I shoot horse racing and Polo and will often be making on the fly adjustments, even weddings if the conditions are varying I’ll often adjust often just for effect. I often have people asking how’s it look? Making the same mistake in assuming I’m looking at the image. We are not always looking at the image.

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