You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take stunning photographs nor do you need a massively expensive camera. Educating yourself on the basics of photography, how to use your camera, and what makes a good photo can result in impressive improvements in your photographic skills. By fixing the following common mistakes budding and professional photographers alike often make, you can continuously challenge yourself and wow your friends and family with your creativity and skill.

Only Shooting from Eye Level

Many photographers snap photos without thinking. They just want to remember they were there and don’t think about composition. Instead, think of where you could stand to give an interesting angle to whatever you are photographing. Would shooting from above or on the ground be more interesting? Remember that when you take a photo and you aren’t inspired enough to find a neat way to capture the subject, your audience will feel the same. 

Not Knowing Your Location & Subject Well

Can you only access a popular attraction at certain times of the day or year? Are there spectacular sunsets near the subject of your photograph you could wait to incorporate into your frame when shooting? Or, are there certain times when an area gets so crowded it’s impossible to take a decent picture? Do your research about a location and what you’re shooting before you set out to photograph it. Find the best time, location, and angle ahead of time, so you can just focus on having fun while you’re there. 

Packing Too Much Gear

Ask yourself if hauling 3 bags of gear will be worth it. Are you going on a hike or just a quick trip? Take the essentials but nothing more unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you’re missing something, take it as a challenge to find a new way to frame up a shot. You just might find a new and excitingly creative way to take your desired pictures. Plus, you’ll thank yourself when your back isn’t hurting from lugging gear you didn’t use to multiple locations.

Not Knowing Your Camera Settings

Manual mode can seem daunting. Take baby steps by trying and mastering other settings on your camera or trying out the basics first. Then, build upon what you already feel comfortable with. If you’re traveling somewhere with difficult to capture subjects, such as the Northern Lights, it’s best to research the best settings beforehand and practice. That way when the time comes to photograph your subject, you can apply the settings with ease.

Not Telling a Story

You don’t need to tell the same story as everyone else nor do you need to take pictures just to take them. Think about your shots and how you can make them interesting and memorable. If you’re traveling, what can you do to help you spark a meaningful memory of a place you visited? Tell a story with each photo, or at least a few, to mix up the status quo.