5 Photography Mistakes I Keep On Making

I really should know better, but here are 5 photography mistakes I keep on making. Read this and learn from my experiences 5 things you can stop doing right now (if you were doing them in the first place that is of course).

I hope that by committing these faux pas to the world wide web and all you Improve Photography readers I will finally rid myself of these, quite frankly, ridiculous schoolboy errors I keep on making.

OK lets do this. And let me know if any of these strike a chord with you.

1 – Taking too many images

I dream of the day when my image capture is refined to the point where I take 20 pictures, have a quick look (no need to cull) then process and issue to the client, 20 images.

Is this too much too expect?

Maybe. But my point is this. The first image I take of a scene is 9 times out of the 10 the image I go with. It is the best composition. The other slightly different versions of the same scene are completely unnecessary.

Maybe I am just that good that one shot is all it takes?

I wish.

And another thing I have noticed when I am photographing a building (this happened over the weekend just gone) is that I will go back to the beginning and take the same picture again. Why?

I need to trust my instincts more, and go with that first image then move on. I take time composing the images, and the way I take photographs I don’t normally need to worry about exposure and all that technical stuff.

All my commercial architectural photography work is taken with my Canon 6D firmly planted on my tripod. A tip for another time but this helps my composition enormously.

So this is I guess a mistake I will keep on making, I just need to be mindful of this and be more disciplined with my image capture.

By the way – one of the things I hate the most is culling images – it seems to take me forever, even with all the tools available in Lightroom. And refer to mistake number 5 for why I cannot contemplate Photo Mechanic for culling!

2 – Resetting camera settings

A big one this, and a real pet hate. This really bugs me. And gives me an unpleasant feeling in the pit of my stomach when I am out on a commercial shoot.

I am on a shoot. I am in the groove taking photographs. I have my settings just how I like them.

  • ISO 100
  • AV Mode
  • Aperture F8 – F11
  • Shutter speed  – who cares – I am using my tripod and things I photograph aren’t going anywhere (buildings in case you didn’t know, and if you didn’t know where have you been?).
  • 3 shot bracketed image capture – (correct exposure, 2 stops under exposed, 2 stops over exposed).
  • Back button focus.
  • AF set on my lens.

This is how I take photographs. This means I can concentrate on the composure. The only things I need to worry about are where I meter and focus and the composition. I can forget everything else as my Canon 6D looks after that.

All fine then – so what exactly is the problem?

Me. The problem is me.

I decide to do something different – nothing wrong with that of course.

The kinds of thing I am talking about are

  • Changing everything for example to take a panoramic bracketed set of images
  • Going from bracketed capture to singe image capture
  • Change of aperture to say F4
  • Changing the ISO for a specific image
  • Introducing exposure compensation
  • Changing from auto to manual focussing
  • Or anything else that is not my default settings.

Like I said, nothing wrong with this.

But this is the problem.


I forget.

I change from my go to settings for one image – and then forget to change things back.

It drives me up the wall. This is two stops of unwanted exposure!

Interior photogrpher picture of the appliance bay at Dorchester Fire Station. This picture was taken for the architect and the main contractor.
Picture of the appliance bay at Dorchester Fire Station by architectural photographer Rick McEvoy. This picture was taken for the architect and the main contractor. And was over exposed. And is awful.

And this is how this picture of the appliance bay at Dorchester Fire Station should have looked.

And this is how it shodl have looked!

And sometime I get that horrible feeling when I realise what I have done, and the panic sets in. How long have I been shooting like this?

I thought the other day on an architectural shoot that I had done the entire shoot at F4. I hadn’t thankfully.

And the other week I set an ISO of 12800 for the last image, and started the next shoot at that ISO. I was wondering why my camera was telling me strange things.

This might sound like a basic mistake, but I literally made this last week – thankfully I was shooting at 2 stops underexposed, which my Canon 6D, bracketing and Lightroom between them managed to rescue.

I know I will make mistake number 1 – I have to stop making mistake number 2 or one day this will catch up with me for sure.

3 – Not finishing one thing before starting another

I hope that lots of you recognise this one. I buy something, let’ say a book which I have heard about somewhere, so I order it and next day it arrives courtesy of Amazon Prime. I put it on my desk giving it prominence certain in the knowledge that I will read this book then act on what I have learned.

Some time later the book, quickly forgotten, is placed in a prominent place on my bookshelf. I have a place just for new stuff close to where I sit at my desk.

And then at some point in the future, the same happens with another book. I have a shelf now full of books that I have done nothing more than casually glance through when they arrived.

This same principle applies to tutorials, articles, lots of things.

And this is one that I am stamping down on big time.

I have had words with myself, and only buy something now if I need it. I must have a specific need.

And I am even starting to look at what I have bought.

An example of this is the books I bought on Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS1 (I think). By the time I got round to them Lightroom was up to Lightroom 5 and Photoshop was I have no idea where.

Which reminds me. If you are like me


What is the point? There is so much in there I don’t have a hope of finding anything of use. Just use Photoshop for cleaning up images and you will be just fine – trust me.

4 – Photo Apps that I download and never use

These are the Apps on my iPhone that I have never used apart from the day I heard about them and downloaded them.

  • Photo Pills
  • Photographers Friend
  • Periscope
  • Photoshop Mix
  • Vimeo
  • Simply Stats
  • Getty Images
  • Masterfile
  • iStock
  • Keyword tool
  • Shutterstock
  • Instasize
  • Starbucks
  • Flipboard
  • Hyperlapse
  • Photoshelter
  • Lee Stopper
  • Display
  • Canon Bible
  • Spark Page
  • Trigger Trap
  • Creative Cloud
  • Behance
  • LE Calculator
  • Canon 6D
  • Tumblr
  • RAW
  • Flickr

This is ridiculous. If I delete all of these I will never miss them, and probably lose two screens of clutter from my iPhone.

But I’m not going to, am I? Just in case. I know ridiculous.

And don’t get me started on weather apps! OK now I have started I need to get this off my chest. I am in England. In England we love the BBC. But the BBC weather app?? Sometimes it says it is sunny when it is actually raining.

5 – Software

Similar to 4 above, I hear about the latest greatest thing and buy it, download and it and then don’t use it.

For 99.9% of my photography work I use Lightroom and Photoshop. In that order. I use Snapseed for quick alternative edits on my phone or iPad.

I did use Nik Silver Efex Pro until its demise, and am looking forward to its revival.

But what else do I have?

  • Luminosity masking tutorial and panel for Photoshop
  • Luminar
  • Aurora HDR
  • Affinity Photo (on my iPad)
  • On One
  • Topaz Labs
  • Photomatix Pro 5.2
  • Pantour 2.3
  • Picasa 3
  • Digital Photo Professional
  • PT Gui

OK – I did use Photomatix a bit, and also Topaz Labs. And the work I produced was rubbish.

Not the software’s fault – not all at all.

It was all down to me.

Problem is I do not like any of these programmes (can I still call them that) for one main reason – I have;

  • Bought them
  • Tried them quickly
  • Not liked the results
  • Sulked
  • And gone back to Lightroom.

Why would you buy anything and not use it? I would like to say I have stopped doing this, but I only downloaded Aurora HDR the other week – I have not even opened it yet.

Summary of my personal stupidity

That is enough about me and the mistakes I keep on making. I am going to go and sit in a corner and think about what I have done. Don’t do these things – please learn from my mistakes.

Lets all look at this again in 12 months and see how we are all getting on.

14 thoughts on “5 Photography Mistakes I Keep On Making”

  1. I think you are being way too hard on yourself. Taking more photos may lead to more unique compositions. Just going with the first picture you take seems like you would be “mailing it in” and I would think lead to less creativity. Maybe you shouldn’t get so caught up in what other photographers are doing and just do your thing and work with the programs/apps you enjoy.

    1. Hi Craig

      Thank you very much for your comments.

      With regards to image capture if I am out and about taking photos for myself then this is fine. When I am on a commercial architectural photography shoot I need to be more discplined though. The time I have to spend sorting, culling and selecting images is crucial to me.

      It is funny what you say about enjoying the Apps, I am going to do just that with a set of pictures I took in Santorini earlier this year. I am going to give myself proper time to have a play with other software and see what I come up with. Time constraints are going to be removed so I can really enjoy this.

      I guess it all depends on the time pressures and what the photographs are being taken for. I am grateful to be able to enjoy my photography whilst working as an architectural photographer.

      Enjoyment is (or rather should be) the key – you are absolutely right there. Thank you for reminding me of that point!

      WIth kind regards from England


      1. Think about all the extra photos you’ve taken it’s probably made you a better photographer just trying to get a better shot even if you don’t get one every time.

        1. Hi Shawn

          Thank you very much for your comment. It really is great to hear peoples thoughts on my ramblings!

          I think that you are making a very good point here – I do try to get the best out of a scene. One of the points I was making was that, having photographed from one viewpoint, I photograph it again after doing the other parts of a building. I have thought about this a bit more, and looked back on some of my recent work. Pretty much without exception where I have taken a photograph from the same viewpoint more than once the first capture is fine, and the second is just not needed.

          If the light is changing then I will go back and do not have a problem with that of course.

          I think this is just a bad habit I have carried over from the days when I was much less competent than I am now, and when I was less confident about my image capture techniques. There you go – I appear to have come up with the answer to my issue!

          Thanks again for taking the time to read my article and get in touch.

          With regards from England


  2. I keep making these very same mistakes…and more! A timely reminder to get things right. Thanks, Rick.

    1. Hi Abul
      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment – your feedback is most appreciated.

      Hopefully others can learn from (some of) my mistakes!

      With regards from England


  3. Hi Rick,

    Excellent article. Thank you for sharing your insight.

    While I am far from a professional photographer, I know what I like… INRE your appliance bay photos…. at least on my screen, the first image is light and bright and I find it more visually appealing than the second image. For my tastes, the second image is dark, and moody, possibly somewhat depressing.

    My take on the two images – options are a good thing. The client will recognize what they like or don’t like and even a non-professional like me knows… the client is always right!

    Thanks again!

    1. Hi Steve

      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment – I really do appreciate it.

      It is interesting what you say about the picture of the appliance bay. This was photographed for the architect, and he wanted me to show the light through the appliance bay doors, as well as the depth of colours in the fire appliances themselves.

      With regard to the darkness of the image, this is an issue that we all have to contend with – the variable qualities of monitors – not only in terms of colour but also brightness.

      And we all see things in different ways, and like different things in photographs. I guess this is what makes photography so fascinating.

      You are absolutely right though – the client is always right.

      Thank you again for your thoughts.

      With kind regards from England.


  4. Lucky you! Just got back from a couple of weeks in the Cotswolds and Peaks. How can one not keep on taking images. Everywhere one looks there is another stunning scenery, with the exception of finding a place to pull over. A lot of your transgressions are ones shared as I have almost all of the software you listed, but not that many apps. Maybe next time Cornwall and Dorset….

    1. Hi Earl

      Thank you very much for taking the time to comment – and great to hear from a fellow Brit!

      This is a problem. Taking images. It was much easier in the good old film days (yes I am old enough to remember them) when you were restricted to 24 or 36 images and the associated costs.

      I was referring in this article to my architectural photography – I have just done a shoot where I started with one view and finished photographing the same scene at the end. So my image culling process was prolonged for no real reason other than my own incompetence.

      It may just be that I hate culling photographs – having said that who likes that job?

      I do find that I am taking less and less photographs when I am doing landscape and travel photography work, and getting less and less rejects and duplicates, which has to be a good thing. I haev folders of images from great places that I have been to in the past that I have never had the time to properly sort, which is a great shame.

      How many pictures did you take in the Cotswolds and Peak District? Sounds like a hard drive capacity nightmare trip!

      Cornwall and Dorset are good shouts – don’t forget Devon inbetween though!

      Thanks again for your comments which I really do appreciate.

      With regards from Dorset


  5. I try when putting my camera away to reset to ISO 200, shuuter speed 1/100. Helps (i once lost a whole series of shots from being shot at the previous evening’s ISO 1200….. ????

    1. Hi Rickismom (Sorry not sure what your name is)

      This is excellent advice – thank you for this. Sometimes the simple things are the best, and this simple but very effective action get rid of one of my problems. I will try to remember to do that whenever I put my camera back in my bag – I need to remember to turn off my GPS anyway so should be able to remember this!

      I just need to get over the mid-shoot change of settings now……

      Thank you very much for making such a helpful comment on my article, for which I am very grateful.

      With warm regards from England


  6. Hi again. Took lots of images, but definitely was challenged by some of the weather…..

    There is a very good article at Skip Cohen University, called “in the Photography Spotlight–A Portrait by Chris Fawkes.” An interesting read but the point of the article is a reminder that “capturing great images isn’t over until you walk away.” I cannot think how many times I have been some place and figured the good light was over and then things change and it seems to get better….


    From Portland, OR

    1. Hi Earl

      Thanks for this. It depends on what you are photographing. I have just finished a shoot for an architect on a lovely old water mill that has been refurbished and turned into a wedding venue.

      When I am photographing buildings I have a limited amount of time, unfortunately I do not have the luxury of waiting indefinitely for good light.

      I have to make the best of the available light.

      Having said that the shot I took when I arrived at the mill mid afternoon I took again before I left – I will give my client both images as the light transformed the scene.

      When you are taking photographs commercially you have to make the best of what you have. That is the difference between landscape photography and commercial architectural photography I guess!

      I enjoy both, especially the freedom landscape photography offers.

      The good light can happen anytime, you just need to be prepared to capture it.

      Thank you again for your thoughts.



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