The Ten Most Common Photographic Mistakes

Here is a quick rundown of the most common mistakes people (like me) make that mess up a good photo or prevent us from taking a good photo. It is a big leap for me to start talking about taking photos, since it is so much more subjective than writing Photoshop Tutorials. I am on a journey and often times I look at older pictures on this site and wonder why I even took the photo (at least I have some negative examples to show you). I am taking the easy way out, starting with things that can go wrong, to kick off this series on photography techniques.

1. Images are too cluttered (less is more)

In Photography, less is often more. Before pressing the shutter-release button, ask yourself what you first noticed in a scene that made you want to take this photo. Then try to isolate whatever you saw, without including too much in the scene. Otherwise the viewer will get confused and will start wondering what you wanted to show and why you bothered taking the photo in the first place.

Compare this photo of Downtown Philadelphia...

Philadelphia Downtown ClutteredPhiladelphia Downtown Cluttered
This image outlines how tight the space is in the city.
Philadelphia ReflectionsPhiladelphia Reflections Philadelphia Apartment BuldingPhiladelphia Apartment Bulding ...with this photo of the reflection of an old building in a new building (left).

The second image (left) is contained within the first image; however, the second image really brings out what I wanted to show - the contrast of old and new. Most "snapshots" would include a lot more of the scene than even the first image shows, dwarfing the actual subject even more. 

The human eye and mind tends to see a 3-dimensional scene differently. You automatically blend out things you don't care about. In a photograph it's exactly the opposite.
The things you didn't even see in the first place tend to pop out and come right at you: Wham, in your face viewer.

The first image is still a good image if you wanted to show how space is at a premium in large cities and how tight the buildings clinch together. For that matter, I didn't even bother correcting the perspective (narrowing down towards the top of the image) as it tends to increase the feeling of tightness.

Even though the photo of the Apartment Buildings (right) is not exactly a photographic masterpiece, it shows exactly why I even bothered to look at the building (repetitive pattern of windows).
Had there been more in this picture, it would be a lot less interesting.

Here is an example of too much going on:

Bruhls Terrace DresdenBruhls Terrace Dresden
If someone even bothers to look at the picture, his eyes will start to wander. Once you are at the parachute in the lower left corner (your eye is almost out of the picture now), you start to wonder about the person that's not even in the picture anymore and you are out of the picture. A good photo however, should draw the viewer in.

2. There is no Bad Weather in Photography

This is a myth. For Photography there is no such thing as bad weather. In fact, I have consistently taken my best photos in what most people consider bad weather. Some places look "just right" with thick thunderstorm clouds, like this image of Half Dome:

Half Dome Winter StormHalf Dome during a Winter StormThat day I saw many tourists leaving the park in disappointment while many others like me took photos with umbrellas and rain gear.
Often I hear comments by people complaining that they don't have a clear blue sky (I call it a boring sky) and that their photos would look dull. Most don't even bother to take a photo. Big Mistake!

3. No Patience

Sunset on El CapitanSunset and Storm with El CaptianVernal Falls with RainbowVernal Falls with Rainbow Patience is a virtue. I took one of my best images in Yosemite in Winter. Winter can really test your patience. The whole day was rainy and foggy (zero visibility - exception for #2) and not very interesting in terms of photography (even Half Dome was hidden in the clouds). However, I stuck around hoping for a clearing and it really happened. I was rewarded with a dramatic shot of El Capitan peeking through the clouds, bathing in golden sunlight (left).

I admit, sticking around for a whole day is a bit extreme. Here is another example (right).

I knew that if I waited long enough for the sun to set behind me, a rainbow would show up in front of Vernal Falls. I had to wait 90 minutes for this to happen (and it only lasted a minute or so). While I was standing there in the cold mist, wondering if the rainbow would ever show, I was passed by many other photographers who stood around for a while, wondered what I was looking for, got bored and left.
Two more guys, who joined me after a while, held out with me and we had a wonderful reward.

4. The Digital Attitude

Digital Photography is a blessing. You can take as many photos as you want without paying a dime and you can get instant feedback in the field.
However, people often use the feedback the wrong way. When you ask ten people with a "digicam" what they like best about their camera, a large percentage will tell you that the best feature of digital cameras is that they can delete pictures they don't like !!!!!!
Since when is deleting a picture a good feature?
The quality of a picture can only be judged on a large screen, and unless something is really wrong (e.g. someone walked into your frame while you pressed the shutter), you should NEVER delete a picture in the field.
Correct exposure can only be judged by means of a histogram (those screens are not calibrated and may not look right in the bright sun).
Only use the metrics (histogram, exposure, aperture, ISO) to judge your image exposure.
Never judge by how it appears on the camera screen. You can always delete the pictures at home (if you are trigger happy), but I usually keep everything. Flash Memories are incredibly cheap. I usually carry an image tank with me; this way I can back up my cards and never have to delete anything.

5. The Photoshop Attitude

I recently wrote a post about this: Photoshop it Later. A "photographer" took a photo of a group and noticed that the flash hadn't fired. He put the camera in his pocket with the comment "I'll photoshop it later".
There are so many things wrong with this (read my post if you want to know more), but even if he could solve all his problems with Adobe Photoshop (he would at least get increased noise levels), he would need to spend a lot of time on the photo.
Taking a second shot with the flash enabled would only take a few seconds. So if you think a photo didn't come out right and if you have the chance, always take another one (but don't delete the first - see 4, someone might have their eyes closed in the new one or there might be some other reason the previous shot turns out better).
Photoshop is an invaluable tool for photographers (I even wrote some Photoshop Tutorials myself); however, it is not a remedy for everything and you cannot turn bad photos into good ones with Photoshop alone.
I am a technical (computer) geek and we used to say, Garbage in - Garbage out. The same applies to Photoshop.

6. Unwanted things in a scene

Polynesian Idols with cluttered backgroundPolynesian Idols with cluttered background Polynesian IdolsPolynesian Idols Isolated
Often you thought about everything and you think you got the perfect shot. When you review the photo on your computer you see an ugly tree branch, a power line or something else that you didn't recognize while taking the photo. Just as it was true in mistake number 1, the brain plays tricks on us. Before pressing the shutter, take your time and scan the scene through your viewfinder. Scan it with your eye from the upper left all the way to the lower right, focusing your mind on trying to find these items.
Often times a slight change in angle or a step left or right can solve the problem and make a photo so much better.
In the two pictures above, I had shot the Polynesian Idols as I approached them. I quickly realized that the background was competing with the figures. This is due to the fact that the three dimensional scene is mapped to a two dimensional photo. The background distracts too much from the idols. Taking two steps to the left allowed me to isolate the subjects.

7. Always shooting from eye level while standing up

Oftentimes a scene can be much more interesting if photographed low (i.e. on your knees or belly):

Oregon Dunes Grass BushOregon Dunes Grass Bush
I took this photo lying on my stomach.
Lying on my stomach close to the ground, I could make the small bush dominate the entire picture and show the curvy windswept texture of the dunes.

Here is another Example from Baltimore.

For other photos consider climbing to a higher vantage point:

Nevada Falls - YosemiteNevada Falls - Yosemite
Shot from the trail
Often you won't have the choice of a much higher vantage point. You can climb on a tree or stand in the doorframe of your car (the picture above was shot from the trail though).
It is just a matter of deciding to go the extra few steps and climbing a nearby mountain to gain a slightly different perspective that may work much better. It won't always work out, but you will soon learn to appreciate seeking different angles and Points of View (POV). Those will make much more interesting and less static images.

For this image of Cusco Peru (left),
Cuzco Plaza de ArmasCusco Plaza de Armas
It wasn't easy to find the perfect vantage point for this photo.
I walked around for a while, always keeping in mind how I wanted to photograph the city.
Rattle SnakeRattlesnake I kept searching for a good place that would let me include the market, the two churches and the hill with the writing, but however much I kept wandering around, my sight was either blocked or I couldn't get everything in the picture I wanted to include.
After a while, I found an old abandoned church and a little girl was friendly enough to guide me up the spire (she was somewhat the unofficial keeper of the key).
I repaid her with a tip for her kindness and both of us were very happy.
I was able to get a photo that nobody else had, because I spent the extra time looking for a better vantage point.
In fact it is very hard to photograph the city square from anywhere else, since there is no open view.

For the image of the rattlesnake, getting down eye to eye with the snake made it that much more dramatic than just standing up. (A glass window kept me safe; the image was taken in the Zoo, thanks for being concerned ;-) )

8. Placing People in the Picture

Most people don't take a single photograph without posing in front of a perfectly good scene. Don't get me wrong, its nice to see someone was somewhere, but how many of those can you really look at and stay interested? The pictures feel extremely static and people always pose the same way. You might as well pose in front of a blue screen.
I don't mind a few vacation snapshots and some of them can be quite funny, but I think it is a much better idea to capture the moment. People laughing and joking or having fun going after some activity is much more interesting than having them pose together in front of the camera.

9. Not including other people

This one is a 180 degree turn from the previous item on the list. There are perfectly valid reasons to include people in photographs. Often I wait for people to leave the picture, not realizing that they belong in the scene. For reasons of copyright, I usually only publish images of people whose faces cannot be recognized or who agreed at least orally to being published.

The three most common reasons to include people:
  1. Guiding the Viewer into the Scene. Placing a person outside of the main area of interest and having the person look into the photo. The viewer can identify with the person:
    Condor Viewing in Peru

  2. Giving a sense of scale. Only with the person in the scene can a viewer truly grasp the size of Delicate Arch in this scene:
    Visistor at Delicate Arch

    Or giving depth to a scene:
    Hikers in Death Valley

  3. The Person is part of the scene itself, an actor or the person is the scene (sports)
    Actor on the Mayflower

  4. Documenting the life of people, the person being tightly related to the scene:
    Girl on Taquile Island - Peru

    Quechua Boy

10. Wrong Perspective

Your camera has a zoom function, doesn't it? Use it!!!!

Again coming back to the tourist photographs. Most people that pose in front of a great scene, let's say a mountain, get their photo taken from up close. In the photograph the mountain scene will be dwarfed by the size of the people in the scene. If you step back as far as possible and zoom into the scene, the size of the people in the scene will still be the same (you can zoom in until you are satisfied).
However, since you zoomed in, the mountain will now be much bigger, making the whole photograph appear much more dramatic. Every one of your friends will envy your great photo, since it is not just another face shot, but it also has another big and interesting subject (the mountain).
The same is true for photographs without people. If you have a foreground and a background subject, move away from the foreground and zoom in. This will accentuate the background much more, yielding a much more balanced shot.
Santa Ines Mission with small crossSanta Ines Mission with small cross Santa Ines Mission with large crossSanta Ines Mission with large cross
The only difference in the two images above is where I am standing. The cross and the bell tower are at the same distance in both images, but the image to the left compresses the depth between the tower and the cross (too much for my taste, so I stepped a little closer). Often the situation is exactly the opposite, and by stepping back you can bring the background closer.

Moving close to the cannon accentuates the cannon and dwarfs the fort in the background (in this case the desired effect, since I wanted to show the size of that cannon):

Cannon Baltimore FortA cannon at the Baltimore Fort


Art is not something we can grab and hold in our hands. There are no rules and there is no right or wrong. Rules are meant to be broken and often some of the most amazing pictures I have seen did not abide by any rules.  This article is meant for novice photographers to inspire the process of thinking.
I am still learning and developing my style, too. In no way do I claim to take perfect photos. Some people like them, others don't.
However, I have made the first baby steps, and I am more than happy to share my insights with my readers.

This article will be the first in a series about Photography. So far I have focused my writing mainly on tool tips and technology.
Nevertheless, we are all first and foremost trying to improve our skills as photographers and artists.

During the next months I hope to write a lot more articles about Photography, trying to dive deep into the techniques (Exposure, Depth of Field ...) the artsy aspects (Composition,  Format, Placement ...) and the more elusive (what to keep, how to predict the conditions ...).

I hope to see you back soon.


Great article, Andre! You've listed some interesting and very helpful tips. Can't wait to get out again and try some of it.



Glad you liked it. Come back in a couple of weeks for more.


Wow, some interesting tips. I've never been much into photography, but it's going to be hard to avoid some of this advice the next time I snap some pictures.

Not really

All it takes is not to be static. Move around while you take photos. Change your POV (point of view) as much as possible. Crouch down, stand tall, move left, right, and forward and zoom into the picture, always scanning through the viewfinder.
Snap not one but multiple pictures of each scene and eventually you will figure out what works and what doesn't.
Don't just get out of the car and take the first picture. Take your time to evaluate the scene.
There is a nice saying in German:
"Es ist noch kein Meister vom Himmel gefallen."
roughly translated:
No man was born a master.
Translated directly: "No master craftsman ever just fell from the sky."

Eh, no.

As a pretty well known photographer once said: "Rules don't matter a whit if the subject is truly interesting".

I guess some photographers need the rules. Artists, however, take pictures of interesting things.

Great article!

I loved the article. It pointed out some things that I obviously do wrong(?) in my photography that I can keep in mind and hopefully use to take better pictures. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on your RSS feed and come back to read some more. Thanks!

I have just spent 4 years in

I have just spent 4 years in university studying photography, (Fine Arts) bfa.... im not sure how great any of these pictures are.. theyre fine and all.. but i think the best advice anyone could ever have is, shoot alot, exparament, find YOUR STYLE of shooting, and as cappa said

"If your pictures aren’t good enough, it’s because you aren’t close enough."

i think thats often very true.

if anyone really wants to see some good photography, the shoudl get out of the flikr accounts and into galleries and fine book stores that sell art books, and photo books.

id highly recommend

ed Burtynsky
richard Misratch
chuck Close
sally Mann
duane Michals
james Nachtway
robert Frank
phil Burgerson
gregory Creudson
Phil De Corcis
andres sarronno.
renjak djkerstra

great photo essays, animated!

(spelling is probably way off.. google will fix any of these)

its great to shoot a lot.. but you have to know what the best of the best are doing. that will help as well.


Junior photographer

I'm going to precis this article for my young son who has recently taken an interest in beginning photography.

Dave Bradley

great tips

for somone like me who wants to learn this is a good resource

Great tips

Nice Write Up, Very Useful

Great tips

Some great tips thanks will bear them in mind next time I go out with my camera.

The composition rule is missing

I think you've missed one important point:

1) Cut your picture with 2 imaginary lines vertically and horizontally to split your picture into 3 equal bands vertically and 3 equal bands horizontally.

2) The points where the lines crosses are the strong points. Subjects placed on this point will have more impact on the picture.

3) If you are taking a portrait, have the person or animal or whatever look through the picture and not look "outside" of the picture. This means if the person look right, the he should be placed on the left on the imaginary vertical line.

4) Colors are important. Red for instance will drastically attract attention while blue and green are less attractive to the attention. If you have a great subject you want to focus on, then remove that person with a red shirt behind, it will totally unbalance the picture.

5) Look for patterns in nature. Horizontal is calm, vertical is daring, diagonal is crazy. Cercles are peaceful. angular shapes are aggressives.

Awesome tips.

I am about a week away from buying my first digital camera, and this article will be bookmarked. Great writing, great article. I look forward to getting to know the rest of your site.

Very good resource, Thanks

Very good resource, Thanks


A good camera with a decent lens can make you a good cameraman regardless of your knowledge. Most modern cameras comes with automatic preset functions.

Spaml free disposable email addresses


This is a great article

I am a musician myself, but find any art interesting.

If you think it deeper, I can apply these advice to my music development

for example: less is more
I often fill my music tracks with too much instruments and samples, instead of focusing in the most important sounds (what I am trying to say in the first place)

Thank you very much

You've been very helpful


I've not thought of zooming like that before. I've always tending to shoot for the web and so a higher DPI and "snap" I can crop it later. It's probably my strongest skill (cropping).

Idiots who say things like

Idiots who say things like this:

"As a pretty well known photographer once said: "Rules don't matter a whit if the subject is truly interesting".

I guess some photographers need the rules. Artists, however, take pictures of interesting things."

Annoy me to death. I am a photographer. Yes, I work as one. Professionally. And let me tell you that saying this is so cliche, and often way fucking off.

A good photographer doesnt just find a intresting subject and just snap on, without thought to composition. Thats what a amateur would do.
In your definition, is a photographer someone who just finds intresting things to shoot, and then just snapshot it?


Do you find that a cheaper camera can't take better pictures? My roommate had a 600 dollar camera, and I sometimes envied him. Is it possible to do a lot of what you said with my shitty 250 dollar camera?

Thanks for sharing your valuable advice

Though the mistakes that you have identified appear to be insignificant, but a photograph without them shows how importance.

Thanks for summarizing them.

I loved the article. It

I loved the article. It pointed out some things that I obviously do wrong(?) in my photography that I can keep in mind and hopefully use to take better pictures. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on your RSS feed and come back to read some more. Thanks!

Good article , but whats

Good article , but whats with the bashing I see this more as a way to help beginner photographers or just people who have other hobbies/jobs that do not involve photography to be able to have few nice pointers that may help them be able to take a better picture.Not some guide for the pros or enthusiasts.

Good reading

This article is helpful for both amateurs and professionals.
Thanks for the sample images that you use to support your tips.

Good reading

This article is helpful for both amateurs and professionals.
Thanks for the sample images that you use to support your tips.

there just photos..........

there just photos..........

Well said!

Good tips for anyone to remember. Thanks for sharing!

Amazing work

Some of your pictures are amazing, patience is something I find hard since you never really know if you're going to get that great an image especially for time sensitive shots.

These pictures are aweful

These pictures really blow. If you're going to do tips on better photos, you should really consider good photos for examples. Makes someone lose all respect man, seriously.

Great Suggestion

Its a worthwhile suggestions for poeple having interests in photography.


BTW this page is on homepage of delecious

Camera Use

I know good techniques will help, but how much of this is also having a good camera? It seems like that would level the playing field a little.


Great work man! I will try these tips out this weekend. That zoom tip is new for me.


True artists hone their craft and learn what works before claiming to BE artists. Obviously the rules or more like guidelines. However, if you just run around taking photos without understanding WHY they look good, you will never be as good as you could be.

my take

Photos are an acquired skill, practice lots and look critically at your work.

Look for the background that will fill the photo, look for the lines that will emphasise what you find interesting, look for colour/ light/ detail contrast that will frame your target, look for the human element that makes it interesting to you, concentrate on composing the photo when you take it, even if you take a bit more around the edges and crop later.

And work fast! Images pass very quickly.

Digital helps, as you can take lots of shots and correct many of them, but remember that a camera at hand taking a photo is better than no camera-no photo. You got to be there to take the shot and sometimes the best camera accessory is a warm jacket.


I think you've got it

I think you've got it backwards. Lazy 'artists' take pictures of interesting things. Artists can take something mundane and make it into something truly interesting.

I think I better quote is "You have to master a rule before you can get away with breaking it."

The rules of photography are great for people that are starting out and can't afford to use anything other than household objects and what's in their immediate area.

Vacation companions impatient?

Great tips, thank you. The tip titled "No Patience" and the photo of the town in Peru spoke to me most - I always try to wait for the right conditions, or go to the perfect vantage point. However, the person/people I am on the trip with can sometimes get impatient with me, and I feel pressured to move on without getting that perfect shot, since hey, it's their vacation, too, and they have a right to not be bored.
Do you have any advice on this issue, other than just splitting up for a few hours?

Ten Most Common .....................

Nicely Done !!

Do you have a regular spot where you give tutorials? You have a very nice style of writing and explanation.

I have shot photos all my life, and have taken many classes and still learned from your posting.

If you do have a site for this, here is a suggestion. Have readers send you some photos and you explain what is right and wrong using their photos instead of yours. I suggest this only because ALL of your examples are still very nice shots. Many times, I see peoples shots (often times they are shooting something for me), and I just wish I had taken the picture. And typically what I notice is simply because it is NOT my frame of reference. I am not judging their efforts, just simply noticing an element of the shot that I would have caught had I taken the shot. Even your worst shot is better...................

Just a thought for you. Very enjoyable article. Good job.


Comment to the person who said "Rules don't matter"

I don't think this article is about "rules" and adhering to them to make a great picture. It's more about some common pitfalls of boring photographs. It's all about what affect you're going for in a picture, and how to get the best image you can.
I've accomplished great things in life by breaking the rules, but if I didn't know the rules to begin with, I wouldn't have necessarily have broken them in the way that I did.

excellent tips thanks

excellent tips

About the overcast sky

One tip i really disagree with is about cloudy sky. Well of course much depends on what you're shooting, but at least for me in most cases sky used to ruin everything. Most vulnerable are city scapes and landscapes where sky plays a major role. Try gray old-towns accross Europe and what do you get? A burned out sky or dark as hell buildings. Here "i'll photoshop it later" attitude works: take two pictures - one with long exposure, another with short one - and glue them together in the end. That's probably the only effective technique i know. In case of sunlight through clouds or some clouds in the blue sky - sure - it works, just wait till you have sun-lit object you're picturing and there you go. But the periods which are so common here where i live - a plain gray-white sky - are a killer.

In case anyone was looking

In case anyone was looking for the correct names:

Edward Burtynsky
Richard Misrach
Chuck Close (Though, he isn't really known for photography.)
Sally Mann
Duane Michals
James Nachtwey
Robert Frank
Phil Burgerson
Gregory Crewdson
Phillip Lorca DiCorcia (P.L. DiCorcia)
Andres Serrano
Rineke Dijkstra

As he was saying though, if any of you really want to improve, start looking at photobooks, and not the piles of boring flickr DSLR crap on the internet. A lot of what people comment as "AMAZING, TRULY AMAZING" on the internet is absolutely nothing compared to what true fine art photographers are showing in galleries everywhere.

uh, yes.

there are principles trained artists follow to create engaging art. as he said, rules are meant to be broken, but being aware of a few of them can really help. for instance, you may find a piece of trash on the floor that's really interesting, but if you don't shoot it from a good angle, you might not capture everything in the photo that you could see in 3 dimensions.


Philip Lorca DiCorcia
Rineke Dijkstra
Gregory Crewdson
Andreas Serrano
Richard Misrach
Duane Michaels

saying 'google will fix' is the same as saying 'i'll photoshop it later' you lazy git.

hugh o'malley


The level of arrogance in this comment is appalling. What a condescending and horrible thing to say to someone who's just learning about photography and wants to be nice and share that knowledge with other novices.

I think this is a great article, especially for people who aren't sure what to focus on, or how to compose photos. I look forward to reading further articles in this series.

very good explanations. I'll

very good explanations.
I'll put a copy in my photobag.

Yeah, it really is a good

Yeah, it really is a good resource for non-experts who want some ideas to help them get started.

I don't know if you can

I don't know if you can learn photography by simply reading a list of "mistakes", if that's what you want to call them.

Personally, I believe the most important thing is to figure out how to interpret photographs. As in, figure out how an average person would feel if they look at a certain photo. From there, you can figure out what kind of message you want to send, and what techniques will help you send that message.

Giving black and white tips like these will just guide even more people into believing that photography is made up of strict rules that everyone must follow. It will simply increase the size of the "You don't follow X rule" bandwagon.

Photographic techniques like the ones you discussed should solely be used to help you transform the image in your mind into the image the camera takes. That which is a "photographic mistake" could be something you wish to employ, depending on the photo and your message.

Great Tips

Practice makes perfect. With digital cameras it's easy to see the result and make adjustments and you don't have to wait for the film to develop like you had to do with traditional cameras. Also check out photo sharing sites like flickr for some great ideas and photos

Thank you for this very fine

Thank you for this very fine and well written article.
With full credit to you, of course, on my own blog, I copied one of your pictures, wrote about this article and created a link to your site.

Shirley Buxton

Good article, lots of good

Good article, lots of good points in a short format.

Just a couple points of clarification regarding: "For reasons of copyright, I usually only publish images of people whose face cannot be recognized or who agreed at least orally to being published." This is not a copyright issue, people do not own a copyright to their face. It is a privacy issue, and (like copyright) privacy laws vary from place to place and from situation to situation. Also, oral permission probably isn't going to mean anything in court, so if you're going to bother getting permission as a way to avoid legal troubles, you might as well take the extra step of getting it in writing. There are some simple model/subject releases (and property releases, since it's not just about people) available for free, a quick Web search should bring some up. They might not be "perfect" legally for the relevant jurisdiction, but they can at least demonstate the intent of the subject more than "well, she said I could..."

Very Nice

I love the pictures.

Don't listen to the "I'm so much better" minority

Thanks for the tips. disregard the comments from the snoots in the back row. I appreciate the advice.

Great! And a couple more...

These are great tips. I often use the getting down on the ground trick for road action shots; it completely changes the scene. I will add these two basic tips, however:
1: Take the shot. You can fuss around with the camera all you want, fuss around with the framing, or whatever. But nothing else matters if you don't get the shot. I've seen people miss once in a lifetime shots after they became too obsessed with the details, and when the moment that they'd been waiting for came, they weren't ready to click the shutter. Do your prepwork in advance, and Take The Shot!
2: This goes along with #4, The Digital Attitude - Shoot, shoot, and shoot pics some more. Don't save your pictures for only the perfect pictures. And, as Mr. Gunther posted, don't delete them! Maybe you're on your way to get a shot when you see something neat, but you're worried that it's not the right angle, that the framing isn't right, etc. Don't worry, just get the best shot you can and move on to what you were doing in the first place. If it doesn't come out right, you're not out anything. This is digital, this isn't film - you're not wasting precious and expensive film if the shot turns out not to be right! I've gotten some good shots that my friends have passed up because they figured they couldn't get the shot right. Again, it's not like they'd be wasting film. Do this and you'll likely be pleasantly surprised when you get home and download to the computer. Many favorite pictures are taken on a whim like this.

rules and that

In regard to Anonymous and James' comments above, I would say that it's not so simple as that. While it is important to develop one's own photographic style and so forth, I firmly believe that one must have a basic grounding in what works in photography and (more importantly) why. Things like the rule of thirds, back up and zoom out, etc, give beginners basic tools to get off the ground and produce competent images.

When they've mastered these ideas (such as in Andre's article here) and start to move on into their own style, they do so with an understanding of the fundamentals, why they work, and under what circumstances to damn the torpedos and do something different. As an old serviceman told me in my USAF days, "First you learn the rules, then you know the rules, THEN you break the rules." (or, for you cooks in the room, you have to understand French Traditional before you can really understand Nouvelle).

To beginners here, take in the rules. Learn what does what to your image. Pick up as many tips as you can, and get them down pat. Then, when you hit a situation where you say "OK, I know the rule says 'this', but I think the image would look better like 'that'", GO FOR IT. Don't be afraid to experiment every which way. Look for the picture no-one else is taking. Keep at it, and your style *will* emerge.



And if I could, I'd just like to add Philippe Halsman to the list above. An amazing portrait artist with a real knack, but I like 'em best because, working with Salvador Dali, he brought surrealism into Photography. His "Dali Atomicus" is one of my fave pix ever.

Great article, I'll have to

Great article, I'll have to keep those tips in mind in the future. Thanks!

my #1 problem

is winding up with a good portion of finger over the lense. sometimes they look like a nice pair of legs, though.


"For reasons of copyright, I usually only publish images of people whose face cannot be recognized or who agreed at least orally to being published."

I don't quite understand this statement. Anyone in public can be photographed. You're missing a lot of good photographs if you're only taking pictures of the backs of people's heads.
No one has a copyright on their face.

Santa Cruz

I saw that you had some pictures from Santa Cruz Ca
I grew up there, and did live there untill I was 19,
I miss the area, and I wanted to say the pics you took
there are awsome, I've seen so many sunsets that
looked like one you had with a sail boat, but I didn't
take pictures back then, you do a great job.

Great article, after taking

Great article, after taking over 5000 pictures I still make some of the mistakes you have listed.

Great stuff!

This was a great article to read. The whole "take now, photoshop later" attitude really annoys me - makes for lazy photographers!

Great example pics as well.


Thanks everyone for your kind comments.

Nico: That one was intended for a later post ;-)

Ivan: I completely disagree. A good camera doesn't make a good photographer. I have seen good photos being made with cheap cameras too.

Daycruz: It's not the camera that makes great photos, its the photographer. A good camera has many advantages (lower noise, shorter shutter lag ...) but a photo of an Alien taken with a Cellphone Camera will sell for a lot of money.

Whoever said my pictures are awful: Did you read the disclaimer below the article? It's all there.

Gumtree: I partially agree with your comment, however working fast is not always the solution. The photo of Vernal Fall took me hours, just waiting for the Rainbow to show up. Once it came up, I had to be fast though, as it didn't last long.

"You have to master a rule before you can get away with breaking it." - Excellent Quote, Thank you !!!!

Simas: Burned out skies are a common problem, but overcast days really bring out the color. Try not to include the sky in your photos. Often times the dynamic range is too high (thats why the sky is burned out) during a sunny day, but if you want to photograph objects (without the sky included) there is no better thing then overcast sky.

Jon: That is certainly the case. I am blessed with my partner who I could interest in photography as well, so often we spend the time together. I would advise that you split up for a couple of hours and meet again at a certain time and place. Especially during Sunset hours (1h before to 30 min after) I need to focus on my photos, even if that means I won't get dinner. Send your friends to dinner and grab something quick afterwards, explain to them how important that is to you and share your photos with them later, so they understand why (and are not offended).

Copyright on People: You are right, its not the copyright, but as far as I know, you simply cannot publish photos of people without their consent. It could land you a world of trouble (if they are recognizable).
All people I photographed in Peru gave their consent (for a small token of appreciation). The problem is to get them to look natural. After you negotiated a deal, they tend to pose (I guess most tourists want that), so I try to sneak a couple of pictures first and then show them that I appreciated it (not exactly the correct thing to do though).

One other tip

I think that all your tips were great. I'd like to add a common mistake that my old photojournalism professor used to harp on and on about.

Pay attention to the background interfering with shots of people. Especially having things go through their heads, like power lines or lamp posts.

It happens a lot more than you'd think.

Nice... greatly appreciated


So just by studying makes

So just by studying makes you an expert... BHAH!! such vanity!!!.... Ever heard of taste??? ... Art can not be learned stupid!

Get down on the floor to photograph

Especially important to get down on the floor when you are photographing kids.
The pics turn out much better and I think they also appreciate that you make the effort!

Thank you

This was informative. I appreciate you putting this together and sharing this.


Shaq_Diesel: Funny that you mention the stick through the head thing. I was trying to find one exactly like that among my photos, but I couldn't (I am sure there is one somewhere), so I settled for the Polynesian Idols in #6 :-)

dmc: Some people actually DO like tips and there are entire faculties dedicated to art. I can also see from your comment that you didn't bother to read my disclaimer at the bottom of the article.

Cellular Demon: Nice tip, thanks !

Thanks Bill, its been my pleasure.


this is really egomanical. photography is about expression of the self, not adhering to someone else's set of rules. and for the record, zooming is probably the last thing you want to do. it flattens the image and pushes in on the individual pixels of a frame, creating an image with less information

@daycruz You don't need a

You don't need a super-expensive camera to get decent photos. Although a better camera may help.

Anyway, great basic photography tips. Very easy to understand. They've been Dugg at


good points ...
thanks for sharing ...

Great stuff, incitful,

Great stuff, incitful, interesting and you don't talk down to your audience, well
done, I really enjoyed my first stumble.

Art Wolfe

Since some of you suggested great artists (remember, I never claimed to be a great photographer, but even in grade school I used to learn a lot from my peers) you should put Art Wolfe on the list.
Some also wanted to see books, so I took the liberty to include 3 books of my favorite Artists. Those books are simply amazing.

I agree

I totally agree with you. I also am a pro photographer. To me a good photographer is a person who can see better.

why rude comments?

Some very good examples. This article will sure help beginners to avoid some very common mistakes.

I don't understand how such an article gets even one rude comment. These are helpful tips. If these really are the ten most common mistakes, I am not sure about, but I have seen made all of them.

Thanks for the write-up. Keep on doing a great job.

Of course...

More expensive cameras have more options and give you more flexibility, but they don't always take better pictures. I have a $2.5k DSLR and a $400 point and shoot. The former is much better in many situations, but the latter is much more convenient and actually takes better snapshots in many situations.

Нихера не

Нихера не вкурил шо вы там пишите но вы гандоны! Привет из Крыма.

well translated from actions to words

excellent article. ive been following a lot what yu have summarized, and learnt a few more tricks from you! i need this page because it is well translated from actions to words. thanks for analyzing things, and taking time to publish it free of cost. this is as good as it gets for free!

somebody as bragged about

somebody as bragged about his degree and all.. sometimes degrees wont work common sense works.. i think andre put up some of a common knowledge needed for a starter so i am very much apparicated with his posting.. thank u andre

Man those are some sweet

Man those are some sweet tips. Thanks

Thanks a bunch!

That's a great disclaimer.

Your suggestions are terrific. Thanks for posting them. Your photos are especially enlightening. Your "don't always shoot from eye level" is great- one suggestion for taking pics of kids is either to get down beneath them (which can give a sense of towering strength to the kid), or get above them for a unique shot.


I just wanted to add to your point on sunlight and overcast skies. The sun can create a lot of undesired shadows in your pictures, so on an overcast day the light will be much more balanced.

Thank you.

Thank you for such a great article, and for no minding the snobs who think they know everything.

Thanks Davidrr

I do mind every comment, also the negative ones. If they have constructive criticism I try to incorporate it into my next articles.
As I said above, nobody was born a master.
I also would like to point out (yet again) that the article is just meant to get people thinking. I am in no way trying to impose my style on anyone.

Anyways, I am reading all the comments (good and not so good).

Great article. Thanks for

Great article. Thanks for the ideas

Good Article

So typical of something on the internet with comments. "Awesome!" "Awesome!" "CRAP!" "WORSE THAN CRAP!"

I think this is a very good example of some major pitfalls when trying to move from "I can push the shutter button" to "people may want to actually look at my photos". How do you go from there to "Fine Art"? I don't know. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Ha ha ha....

I'm not an art critic, but your photos illustrate what you're trying to talk about pretty well. Are they as good as something in a museum? Probably not. That's why something's in a museum (or at least partly why it is...)

those are excellent advice

those are excellent advice and I thank andre for them. Im just a photographer wanabe and know more than to feel limited by your suggestions. Those who take your basic 10 as rules of restriction to the amatuer must think we are a bunch of dummies. dmc my dear, give me some credit. I can still think for myself. Please stick to constructive critism so that I can learn from you too. Don't breed hate, it is quite unappealing.

thanks for the great tips!

These are great tips, and I've made many of these mistakes myself. Thanks for the article! I look forward to the technique article very much.

Your article

A photographer I met in England made the good suggestion that you should explore your subject thoroughly with the camera. This means taking many pictures, but change something in every shot - camera angle, composition, zoom, focus, depth of field, exposure, close ups, long shots, abstractions, etc. When will you get to that location again? In the old days they used to say "Film is cheaper than shoe leather".

The guidelines you give are excellent.


you have just motivated me even more to actually go and do a intermediate course in photography. I have been sitting for too long taking lucky shots and not understanding the important things like the compositions and light. I have to start understanding these key aspects to taking the perfect picture. I have been taking too many chances for too long.

good tips

I am very interested in photography and I found this article interesting. Very useful tips.

WOW! You are so lucky to

WOW! You are so lucky to have been able to take that picture of the Plaza de Armas.
I got a few pictures from Sacsayhuaman, and none of them even came close to being as nice looking as yours.

Great tips

Thanks for the great tips, really helps and just cant get enough!


Thanks for the great article. It makes a non-photographer like me really want to go out and shoot some photos.

ALSO motivated

Yesterday, I took a bunch of pictures of an airplane that rolled into the airport that I do flight training in, but could never be satisfied by them. I used to think that there were only so many ways to take photos of an airplane, but now I am inspired to search out new methods. So, thanks a ton for the advice, I will certainly put it to use!

Any interest in aerial photography? Check out

Flash Usage

I think the biggest mistake ever people do is the misusage of the FLASH. I wish you had mentioned that, since I feel really bad when people try to use their flashes for example:

- Using the flash trying to capture the city skiline (Day or night) through an airplane window.
-Trying to use the flash for a group of people in a long table...the ones in the front will have bright faces, the ones in the back will look very dark
-Trying to use the flash to capture firewors or the strobe lights at a nightclub, for example...

Your use of profanity is

Your use of profanity is completely uncalled for,
and detracts from the reading of comments.

I really appreciated your

I really appreciated your article, and the tip about photo depth was a new one for me, so thanks! What I would really love to see you touch on, however, is tips on taking great night-time pictures. For example, there are sometimes amazing visions in the night-time sky, and taking the picture with a flash just ruins it. How would one capture that soft glow in the moon, or the bright light of Venus?


thanks for all of the great tips! with an upcoming trip to the rockies in the works, I hope to use what I learned from you to take some exceptional pictures!

40+ years and still a student

Don't let your ego get in the way. You have to be your best (worst) critic. Back in the film days we used to say that the trash can was our most important piece of equipment. Take a photo class at a local school. Getting assignments and having to THINK about one photo and then comparing it with the rest of the class will put you years ahead of where you would be without the class. I did this 40 years ago and it's helped me every day since. Remember, Know It Alls, aren't. Thanks for the article and giving me a chance to respond.

One point?

One point?

I have taken some marvelous

I have taken some marvelous shots with with a little disposable. The main clue is to just pay attention to what you are doing.


Great information and awesome photographs. I would be interested in reading about using histograms. Most of the software manuals do not do an adequate job of presenting this feature. I have just entered world of digital photography and do not like the appearance of my digital photos as well as I like my film photos.


Thank you for the excellent tips. I will print them out and use them as I progress through my photography hobby.

And why all the rude comments? They are just tips to help out those who make those mistakes to correct them. No human is perfect!

Great article for the

Great article for the average person shooting photos! Those who have criticized this article, in my opinion, have really missed the point. The advice here is solid and good, and addresses the mistakes most casual 'picture takers' make when photographing. It informs the casual photographer who would like to take good photos that point-and-shoot generally will not yield nearly as good of results as thoughtful photography, and it does so with clear examples. If you are a professional photographer, read something else. This was not intended for you. If you are an artist, you should know that technique is essential to good results - unless you are a hack. Everything stated here is good advice, and it will not interfere with the development of an individual style - on the contrary it will encourage those who try it by providing additional ideas and methods that can eventually develop into a style.

Shitty 250 dollar camera

Just because your camera only cost $250 doesn't mean it is a "shitty" camera. My son and my husband both have cameras that only cost $250 ea and they get some awesome pics. My husband has an Olympus 6 mega pixel, and my son has a Sony 6 meg. The Sony has a Carl Zeiss lens and he recently got some really great pics from a moving Amtrak train. Make sure the camera has a good lens and when it comes to the zoom go for the better optical zoom: optical zoom is a lot more important for good pics than digital zoom.

excellent tips, but forgot "Take a lot of shots!"

These are excellent basic tips and I was very pleased to know that I follow most of them. The only other one I would make is "shoot a lot!". It is another advantage of digital pictures, you can shoot tons of pictures and only keep the best ones. Granted I am only an amatuer but honestly, only 1 in 10 pictures is really good. So if you have many pictures of the same thing from different angles, various zoom levels and lighting, you can pick out the best ones later to give to others or for printing.

Optical zoom does not compress the image

You are referring to a digital zoom, something anyone with just a little knowledge would avoid, opting instead to use the optical zoom which has not affect on the image other than to frame it.


i already knew some of these, but other were helpful i guess


Thanks Andre for reminding me of some of my mistakes. It is a good article and I think we can all learn from one another. We can never stop learning. There are always something new to learn. I learned not to erase my pictures till I looked it up on the monitor.
Thanks again and look forward to your next article.

10 common mistakes

I teach b/w & digital photography at a public high school. You have hit the common mistakes squarely "on the head". I would like your permission to use your article and images in a powerpoint presentation for my Photo I class. Thanks for inspiring!

Why Wasn't This Online Last Week???

What a great article. I just wish I had this information last week while I was still on vacation, snapping pics of everything! I will definitely be saving this article for future use. Thank you!


"You are referring to a digital zoom, something anyone with just a little knowledge would avoid, opting instead to use the optical zoom which has not affect on the image other than to frame it."

Nothing could be further from the truth. Check out the two images of the cross. My camera doesn't even have digital zoom (Canon 20D) but even if it had, its nothing but a crop. So its actually exactly opposite from what you are saying. A crop won't compress the space between two objects, that can only be done optically.
Just in case I am going to refer you to a lens makers website:
Tamron Lens Fundamentals quote: "In contrast, in a telephoto lens, as focal lengths become longer, less difference is observed between close and distant subjects, making it appear as if they are closer regardless of the distance between them(compressed perspective)."

Flash Usage: Good points. I would add to that that many people don't use the flash when they should (shooting against a bright background, and using fill flash)

Nutcases: Exactly right. A better camera doesn't make a good photographer, it only gives a photographer more to work with.

Debbie: Feel free to share it with your class. I am glad you found it worthy for such a purpose.

How Appreciative...

How appreciative I am to your willingness to put yourself out there. I DO NOT appreciate those who've criticized or blasted you/work without so much as a hello or good day. I "play" at photography and "piddle" with oil paints, but because "art" is so subjective, I admire your willingness to share. Due to money constraints I took my own "senior portraits" of both my daughters with b/w and color disposable camera's only to have the 1-hour developing place try to confiscate my photos while I was getting wallets and 5 x 7's made, thinking I was trying to copy professional photos. I took it as a compliment and it told me I did something right. With the advice from your article and using my eyes to "really see" what is around me I will continue to do so. Thank you!

Learning by mistake can be helpful

You are right! Knowing what you did helps reproduce it later. Just like the adventurous cook who thows things together and comes up with a great success, but doesn't really know why and will never be able to reproduce it, we do get some great photos by 'mistake', but knowing the why and how may help us to use that for future artist production. I love this article. I am going on a shoot with a zoo photographer tomorrow and am anxious to try some of this. I will also be going to Africa in a couple of weeks and be shooting animals on a land and water excursion. I will read this several times to help me 'remember' a lot of what I already know. I agree that some artistic results are because of a 'natural' eye, but it helps to strive to be better. Thanks, Karan

puder!!! Thanks for the

puder!!! Thanks for the advice, yo

Puder in you Tuder!!

Puder Man!! Nice advice, kiddo!

Bruhls and Cusco Plaza

Love all the diversity in the shots. Need some help with something though. Can someone explain to me the difference in the Bruhls Terrace Dresden shot and the Cusco Plaza De Armas shot. I don't quite think I understand not having something look too busy. The Bruhls shot is alot like too many of my landscape shots but to me the Cusco Plaza shot is just as busy yet he planned that one that way. Can someone share some tips and explain the difference to me?

Thanks, sher

thank you so much

I know there are thousands of comments on this page, or soon there will be, but I want to add my thanks.

Those are mistakes I had made a lot, but I quickly learned to move around, and get lower or higher, as the situation needed. However, little things like the photoshop rule, I needed to read that LOL so many times I'm taking photos and I think, "well, if these are bad, I can see what I can do in photoshop." or I chop my pictures, good pictures, when I get them off my digi and manipulate them, when I never thought to look at that moment before I decided to chop it up.

Thanks! I'll be going back and combing through my old pictures LOL

I hope to see more articles from you! You're great, and a great communicator as well.

Also, don't worry

Don't worry about the haters, my man.

It's when venom and hate come out of someone, spawned by someone else's blessing, one can see who someone is.

I'm sure those hateful ppl who have posted are having issues in other areas of their life too. Keep doing what ur doing, and sharing beauty with people.

Thanks again, I will definitely be back here.

Sher: Thanks for your

Sher: Thanks for your inquiry. Although the images illustrate different points, let me just go ahead and tell you why I like the Cusco Shot better:
As I mentioned in the article, in the Dresden photo, there is a lot going on and not a clear central object. There is no regular pattern either. It is pretty much a confusing image, since there is far too much to see.
The Cusco picture has a well defined center (the market). The surrounding buildings, although many, form sort of a regular pattern that is more pleasing to the viewer. They have the same color and similar structure. This means you can almost view this as a sea of rooftops broken by a big rectangle. The Eye wont wander off to a corner (and out of the picture).

Peechee Keen: Photoshop can be useful to touch things up, but it should never prevent us from taking the best possible picture in the first place.

Thank you for the article. I

Thank you for the article. I love to take pictures and i think mine will come out better now that ive read this.

Free Advice

Thanks for the advice... although there were some critical reviews/comments I appreciate any information I receive to make my pictures have more value to me or the person I am shooting them for. Thanks again I'll be sure to use a lot of these tips although some I already knew so I'm proud of myself, I look forward to more!

great help!!!

thanks for the article. it was very useful. it wasnt a course on photography. it was just some useful tips that everyday,non-photography degree people can find helpful the next time they are on vacation or are capturing one of those "have to have a picture of my kid" moments.
thanks again and keep up the great pictures. and i hope to get some that great next time.


What an article, FULL OF INFORMATION ! I am more than grateful that there are artists and techies out there willing to share valuable information.

Thank you and can not wait for more ...


Edit work that is easy

When taking a picture of large landscape scenery, I usually take three pictures and use Photostitch to make one big picture.
Also, I love the photo program "Picasa2" for doing color,tint,shading and many other things. If your picture comes out to dark,Picasa will help lighten you picture. It seems to enrich the picture to your liking.
Your article was very good.

Great Article

I love this article, since I love phtography, and I think this will greatly improve my photos. And all you people that posted rude comments, you can just try to appreciate that someone is trying to help people get great photos. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words. And some of you really need to brush up on your spelling and grammer!

Hey Alan, cast your peepers

Hey Alan, cast your peepers on this one: Machu Picchu 222 Megapixel. Its also stitched, but slightly larger ;-)

Good ideas!

Nice article, helpful to photographers of various levels of technical and artistic accomplishment, for sure! I do not read these as "rules" so much as "things which tend to yield less-than-acceptable results"!!! We've all seen every single one of these "mistakes" committed, but which, against all "textbook logic", have yielded memorable pictures.

To the venom-spouters out there, hey, different approaches to "educating" work for different people, so live and let live!

With reference to the present move towards digital photography, may I suggest sometimes exploring alternative points-of-view in a radical way ... in a family or other varied-group (age, background, knowledge, etc.) setting, encourage the 6 or 8yr-old kid to shoot a few score shots, unsupervised, with your camera, and you'll be pleasantly surprised what "old peoples' faces look like from table height or below!!! Also, kids, once they feel "equal" to you, are so much more at ease, and themselves become even better subjects than they already are! I think the 10 minutes invested early in the evening or event pays off dramatically later on!

Whether with kids or adults, KNOW YOUR SUBJECT and ENJOY THE MOMENT, preferably WITH them as opposed to shooting pix at their expense or as "an observer" - warmth, sincerity, joy cannot be faked. If you're babbling mentally about DOF and angle of light and where to bounce the damn flash off, you're distancing yourself from the moment - PRACTICE AT HOME WITH LOTS OF STILL LIFE OR INANIMATE OBJECTS until the "technique" part of your shooting is down pat, and then enjoy the moment when you're shooting "for real"!

Another suggestion - given a "cooling off period" of a couple of days or maybe a week, don't be afraid to be totally ruthless with discarding photographs which simply don't meet your expectations!!! RUTHLESS is the operative word. Many times, depending upon the subject or occasion, true feelings and expressions are captured in just one, maybe two uniquely rich, representative pictures, out of a few hundred "Ok" or "So-So" shots (a week later in review), which were "Great!" when reviewed in your tiny 2" LCD screen on the day you shot it and showed your friends! Is this another example, albeit weird, of "less is more"?! I don't know, but it certainly helps me REMEMBER WHAT DIDN'T WORK the next time I'm in a similar situation, and look around for better composition or whatever.

Well, that's just my 2 cents' contribution to what really is a very helpful article. Hope to read more such articles.

I enjoyed the article, I've

I enjoyed the article, I've never been good at taking pictures. It's always interesting to read peoples' thought. I found it funny that someone with 5 years of university in can't even spell experiment right. Sort of stands out after someone boasts of their education but still can't spell. :)

Photography Tips

A very informative article. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series.

The tips and photos in the

The tips and photos in the story were very helpful and I am grateful the author shared them with us. THANK YOU~! God Bless you bunches.

For your next article you should think about ...

addressing some common mistakes that people make with on-camera flashes. As far as some of the comments about art being something that is not "learned" it's obvious that those people don't have a sense of history. Some of the greatest artists were appretices that learned, from others who had done the work before them, and needed to learn some of the basics. Just because I buy a 9.99 paint kit at Joann's and throw it up on a convas doesn't make it art. It might be me expressing myself, but I am not going to create the Mona Lisa without some basic principles in my bag of tricks.

As far as "just studying makes you an expert, bleh" hate to break it to you but that's how we in the real world live. An example you might relate to would football coaches who could never play the game at nearly the level that their players can (bill belichick for example) yet they know a lot more about the game then their players. That's called aquiring knowledge through studying. There is a place for practical as well as theoretical knowledge. As a few have pointed out, go out and shoot some photos, but be aware of what you are doing. Know what ISO settings, apperature, lens, flash, might be required for the moment you're trying to capture or create. Knowledge has always been power, anyone who doesn't see that, and can't get over themself enough to learn from anyone fails at life.

Nofocus: Great comment.

Nofocus: Great comment. Thank you very much for the insightful post. I have nothing to add.

Kerim: Actually I pretty much know already what to write in my next couple of articles. This one was more about composition then technique. I appreciate the input and I will take it under advisement, but I don't want to post about mistakes all the time :-). So don't be surprised if I will give it a more positive spin this time.
All in all, the comments have also given me a lot of ideas about new articles. Keep them coming, I won't get tired of writing.


I'm as amateur as they come... this article was really really helpful! Thanks!

In #1, I actually like the

In #1, I actually like the full view picture (the very first) over the two zoomed in pictures.

In #2, it was very sad to read "a clear blue sky (I call it a boring sky)".
That's a shame that you find clear blue skys boring. I find them very nice and rewarding in photography!

Aside from that though, not bad, and should give novice photographers somethings to consider next time they go out.

>>zooming is probably the

>>zooming is probably the last thing you want to do. it flattens the image and pushes in on the individual pixels of a frame, creating an image with less information<<

So if I'm shooting film just what pixels are you speaking of?

From your description I should be able to hear an audible squeal of pain from my subject when I touch the zoom ring. And BTW, when shooting portraits you use a zoom or 85mm lens to achieve the OPPOSITE, i.e., greater depth of field.


About the blue sky: I don't see much interest in a large deep blue area, but then again its a matter of taste. If you browse through my galleries you will find tons of pictures with blue sky, but I always prefer the ones with at least some streaks of clouds.

Zooming is not the last thing you want to do.
Please read my comment further up the page with the link to the Tamron Website.
I am talking about intentionally flattening the distance between two objects, e.g. a person and a mountain in the background to bring the mountain in closer.
Also the information in the picture is always the same. (With my camera that's 8.2 Megapixels x 12 bit for each and every image I take). But with creative zoom you can always change the perspective and relation of two objects.
A long lens is often used to intentionally compress the distance between a foreground and a background object. You will obtain the same size of the foreground object by stepping back. Don't just stand rigidly in a place and zoom around. Step back and zoom in, step closer and zoom out.

Great Tips

I've been a photographer since i was about 5 when i got my first instamatic in 1964 and have never, and I mean NEVER been one to include the entire family in every picture and find those types of shots extremely annoying. The photographer in those cases seem to be more interested in WHO is in the photo rather than WHAT.

Here in Toronto, I see a lot of Asian tourists taking group shots in parking lots. Parking lots!!!! We've got a lot of beautiful buildings and the CN Tower, but I'll bet none of those items are in the shot. I recall seeing poses like that at Disney World too. I call these types of shots "Mom, Dad, the Kids & Rover".

Years ago, a co-worker went on a pilgramage with folks from her church to northerm Spain & Paris. Every single shot included herself and/or her friends. There was one shot of the group in front of a building and when asked, she told me it was the Eiffel Tower. Were there any shots of the actual Eiffel Tower? No. Sadly, this is how most people take pictures when they travel.

When I tell people we took 1,700+ pictures at Disney World last year, they cringe. No, we didn't take 1,700 pictures of Mickey Mouse & the gang. We took 1,700 pictures of buildings, cloud formations, fireworks, and scenerey. Of the 1,700 pictures, my husband was in about 2 dozen and I was in about half a dozen.

Thanks for a super article

Not long retired I have just taken up photography (FujiFinepix S9500) Articles like this are very very helpful to a beginner. I look forward to the next ones.
Dave W

As said already - excellent

As said already - excellent article and please feel free to add to

Great tips - appreciate the professional's perspective

I appreciate the tips here, they bolster my opinion regarding the clutter in a picture and use of "posed" people, but support my wife's fanatical use of people for perspective. Can't have it all... preferences prevail!

$$ FOR SKILL? I believe I started out with something of an "artist's eye", which is why I chose to spend a bit more than $250 for a "point'n'shoot" camera to have capabilities that challenged my desire to capture wonderful images. All $$$ really buys you is options that you then need to LEARN to leverage lighting, composition, storage/publishing needs and other capabilities aforementioned. You HAVE to learn them, because your subjects aren't always cooperative (children, mingling adults, animals, etc.) when making changes. I have taken pretty good shots with my wife's inexpensive Kodak automatic, though I prefer my Nikon automatic with its configurable presets. Its all about what >I< want to take home and share with others, learning that is most important for the amature.

RULES?: Camera features support or are derived from rules (sic: guidelines) of photography and should be understood to get better at using them and understanding how to select your shots. The "just shoot" relies an awful lot on sheer luck at the beginners end and bit of experience in taking GOOD shots and knowing your own tastes as you get closer to being an enthusiast. I'm still working on getting to that level and may change my EQUIPMENT TO MATCH OR JUST EXCEED MY EXPERIENCE. The camera I use was a bit beond me and I'm still learning to master it 3 years later. I still take good photos and the ratio of good to mediocre and crud gets better and better. It also helps that I am much more aware of my surroundings in search of something I'd like to photograph with my camera than without it. Crutch? Maybe... the overall experience is just different and with camera is preferred - having just gotten back from Rocky Mtn Natl Park, Colorado.
Shooting from "kid level" for kids is a recent acquisition to my "toolbox" and it has worked out very well for me, rather than always maintaining the "adult view" snapshot. Good addition to the "Ten Most Common" conversation!

dmc and other arrogant twits:
Flame OFF, brother! Why are there art schools and why would most of the great artists of this world STUDY with other artistic masters, if there wasn't something to learn to enrich their own artistry? Better control, alternate techniques or perhaps just to learn NEW ways to express the art within you and produce a more satisfiying end result. Truly you are still trying to even find a path, if you insist none exists for artists.



thanks for these great advices..this surely helps EVERYONE!


Really great collection of tips! It's always good to be reminded of some the basics that can really mean the difference between a mediocre photo and an awesome shot.

very informative! especially

very informative! especially for a non-pro like meü

i am interested in digital

i am interested in digital photography...but am still not a good traveling can help me explore more of photography...can u also suggest best settings for landscapes...?


Actually, you really blow. The article is intended for rank amateurs with no style or photographic know how. They are out there, with digital cameras, taking thoughtless pictures by the billions... here you find a few simple but very relavent tips, complete with attainable examples of mid-range pictures they can achieve themselves. Were not going to show them top notch pro shots and expect them to imitate that...were at the bottom level here, and average people can learn alot from these, as the average person is quite remedial when it comes to photography. Seriously, the loss of respect goes both ways, trust me.

Tips and advice

With regards to some of the less positive comments above I would like to say the following:
1 I have been taking photos for over 50 years and still learn new things every time I use my camera.
2 If people don't have positive things to say, rather keep quiet, because nobody is perfect.
3 I have seen photos of so called experts who comment on other peoples work and I have found few that I realy like.
4 Photography is the art of capturing a special picture of what you like, appreciate or want to remember and share, so something you like might not appeal to someone else and vise versa.
5 When commenting on someone elses work rather be constructive than arrogant.
6 And lastly, Andre thanks fot the positive remarks and tips in your article.

Excelente articulo.

realmente tu articulo sobre fotografia me ha parecido muy bueno dado que aveces con el afan de sacar una buena toma nos olvidamos de lo que esta a nuestro alrededor.
fijate que yo tuve un problema similar al de la foto del cuzco, pero fue en Ayacucho, no logre la toma deseada porque me vi rodeada de us espacio muy grande de color tierra, que eran los techos de las casas y la ilumicacion del dia realmente era mala, estaba nublado, me decepcione mucho porque senti que no habia logrado esa toma que yo queria. me gusto mucho tu trabajo, y me impresionaron los colores tan definidos en tus imagenes.
ojala puedas seguir apoyando a fotografos como nosotros que de alguna manera queremos deguir aprendiendo de los aciertos y errores tambien de otros fotografos.
gracias por haber tenido la magnifica idea de compartir tus experiencias.
desde Perú.

your article is very

your article is very helpfull Andre
Thanks alot!!

Are the people making comments blind?

Thanks for a great article - if anything, it got me thinking about how I take photos and had some great points (for me). For the folks that complained that no "black and white" rules exist and found fault with the article and others that said the photos in the article were bad (I didn't think so but..), obviously you didn't read the disclaimer at the bottom that says (in part):
"Art is not something we can grab and hold in our hands. There are no rules and there is no right or wrong. Rules are meant to be broken and often some of the most amazing pictures I have seen did not abide by any rules. This article is meant for novice photographers to inspire the process of thinking.
I am still learning and developing my style, too. In no way do I claim to take perfect photos. Some people like them, others don't. However, I have made the first baby steps, and I am more than happy to share my insights with my readers."

Jeez people, read before you rush to post. And if you have nothing constructive to offer, why do you tear down someone else's advice??

everyone has something to say

Everyone has something to say about all this beautiful work. I think it takes someone special to see that this is not an easy thing to do at times. Noone wants their pictures to look like everyone elses. I will use some of these suggestions the next time I take a walk and look at the beautiful things differently. Thanks for your ideas.

I disagree with the shots in

I disagree with the shots in #6... I think the first image is much more interesting and appealing than the second, which has your "boring sky" and no balance to the image

aside from that, I think these are great tips and great photos

good tips!

yes make alot of difference to look at someone else photos if they follow those points you highlighted! sometime travel photos from people are quite boring even though they had a great time visiting places..

bright background

One mistake he did not mention was taking pictures of people who are in front of bright backgrounds (bright window, etc). The camera averages the bright background against the people and exposes for the average. The result is overexposed bright part and people looking dark. Solution? Turn on the flash - this lights up the people and makes them visible.

Very nice

Very nice and very informative as well, good research work, one of the best discussion on photography I have ever read so far.


Simple enough for the Novice to understand...with really good tips (good even for the more advanced).

Those of us that have been doing this for a while, tend to repeat the same mistakes. And unfortunately, we don't catch it until after the shot is taken. Before Digital, with film it was too late to adjust aperture, our position, etc., when got the pictures processed. What you got on film was what you were stuck with. Digital has made us a little lazy in our preparation of the first shot. Articles like this one, keeps keep us focused.


using the zoom

i have to remember to use the zoom when i'm taking photos of someone in a crowd. i took a photo of my grandsons in a public pool and i can hardly make out who they are. anyway, your article was very informative, thank you

Photography Article

Sometimes you are in place that can't miss. Amalfi Coast or Sicily comes to mind. Other times you need some help to capture a moment. On our death beds our photos will be our most important possesions. Thank-you for your practical advice.

Camera Use

After 30 years taking pictures, I have found the camera does not matter (as long as it isn't broke and letting in light). I will buy a disposable camera if I'm some where the portrait camera could get damaged. So the picture has everything to do with the eye of the photography, how you use the light, and how you frame the picture.


Du hast richtig gute tips! Vieles wovon du erzählst stimmt, obwohl ich mich schon gut mit den prinziben des photographs auskenne. Wobei du hast ein paar tips hier geschrieben was ich noch nie gehört habe, und die ich nämlich zum nächsten mal anwenden muß. danke schön, und ich muß noch sagen wunderschöne bilder hast du gemacht! echt. 'Es ist noch kein meister vom himmel gefallen'. das stimmt allerdings!

Regarding reading a Histogram

I loved your article and am interested in knowing more about reading a histogram. What do you look for? Could you include some tips in your next article? PS- loved your shot of Cusco, mine was awful compared to yours.


Very helpful tips for

Very helpful tips for someone who 'holds" a digital camera (a beginner!) for the very first time like me!
thanks a million!

Maritoni S. N.

I think your comment on his

I think your comment on his pictures not being that great was very rude. He's not helping professional photographers like yourself- he's giving great pointers to amateurs like myself. Next time you might want to keep your over-inflated ego comments to yourself.

Thanx for the useful information . . . duh

This article is helpful for both amateurs and professionals.
Thanks for the sample images that you use to support your tips.

Thanks for the repetitive cliches, some (needy) people don't have a brain and sound like Mary Poppins

Thanks for all the great

Thanks for all the great tips! I'll be trying these out soon!


If you don't find his comments useful than don't use them! It is rude and disrespectful of the author's time and energy to bash without any valuable input on your part. Your comments were useless and negative. Don't reply if you have nothing worthwhile to say. Oh, and use a dictionary if you can't spell.

Loved it, me encanto tan interesante and simple aticle.

I've always liked photography,but reading this makes me see that i made some mistakes in taken the "perfect shot" and dint know how to fix them (simple mistakes), this article has help me verry much thanks! , i say that photography should be done as something fun and enyoable, cuz i've learnd in my school were i live in Dominican Republic, that Art has many ways of manyfestation, and photography is one of my favorites,because i can espres my self through this art and at the same time explore some verry interesting things along the way :) i hope that fore everybody in ther personal stiles enjoy photography as much as i do. nice day :)
~Priscilla M~

Actually, you've still got it backwards . ..

You see, lazy artists take pictures of mundane things and still come out with . . . well. . . you know . . . mundane things. Being an artist though I'm sure some would look at your work and believe that doesn't apply) is never carte-blanche to having the only opinion about art that matters. So get off your butt and do some great work. Don't forget that some rules can be broken . . . some are better left alone (maybe tweaked a little, perhaps).

Hello James.

Thanks fore the book reference,i study photography as well but only as a tec. because i studied interior disigning and it has many photography in it as well,i just saw this article and since i like so much photography i decided to give it a quik look and turned out fantastic,eve corrected some mistakes ive had in this area and got i few tips as well:) i wold like to know if its not to much bother,in what university in the states you studied? Arts institute in fort lauderdale? ive heard much abaut it,and i would love to know more abaut it. i live in Dominican Republic,but would like to relocate to a good university. anyways james hope you see the msg and thanks . :)
Priscilla M.


Dude...get a life. A $30,000 camera in the hands of someone that doesn't know what they are doing may as well be a point and shoot. The camera does not make you a better photographer. You still have to have the skill and knowledge to use the camera properly.


wtf? man the pictures rocked! u blow 4 not appreciating them, asswipe!


Its too bad that those four year at university did not teach you anything about open-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance of other people's point of view and at the very least, how to spell and use the English language correctly!

9 rules with one not so good one.

While you raised many good points I cannot agree with your point about not deleting pictures until you get home. Most of today's cameras have 2.5 inch or larger LCDs with 200,000 plus pixels. You can easily determine poorly exposed (with the use of the histogram), out of focus (try enlarging the image in the LCD) or badly composed images that can not be saved in Photoshop.

I have been traveling with my dSLR for years along with a P&S and firmly believe and find that I can easily delete half the pictures I take as i go. This is frequently my night time or down time activity during the trip. I also bring along cable for connecting to TV when possible.

very interesting, but...

i find your article very interesting but i wonder if some of your advice will apply to surgical illustrations. being a practising ob/gyn and surgeon i have taken an interest in digital photography and built up an album of over 80 pictures of gynaecological tumours e.g. fibroids, e.t.c.
a major point i want to share is the avoidance of using the flash in up close pictures as long as the background is in daylight. what do you think?

thanks for helping my class

hey these are really great tips for starters in photos.

my teacher spent a whole class on these ten tips and it has paid off alot
everyone in the class is getting what to do alot more then what they knew when we all first started.

we are also useing some of your other tips for our class.

thanks again for the tips hope to see more soon.



tnx to u my dear abroad friend. it was a great help for me.

Thanks for the tips!

My husband is a professional photographer and showing me the ropes. One of the things we did was go out shooting together, and take a picture of the same thing doing what we thought would make a good shot. We then compared photos, and he showed me what he did to make the exact same scene a great photo rather than just a point/click. It continues to amaze me how simple things like stepping over a couple of feet, using an odd angle, etc can make such a difference!

You are very brave...

I am horrified by some of the comments I have read and the so-called pros and perfectionists out there that have made these comments should be ashamed. Andre, your article will help many people and each will take what they need from it.

A photographer, whether a beginner, amateur or professional, is an artist. And as with all artists - they learn their techniques by trial and error - by experimenting - by reading - by instruction. No matter what art form it is, there are always the basics to understand and learn but what gives one artist the right to criticise another artists work or for that matter one who tries to help others...?

Individuality is key; think of all the famous painters of the past. You learn what you need to know at any given time and through this develop your own individual style. Each person sees individual beauty, shape and form through their own eyes, not someone elses.

I suggest all you uptight perfectionists read The Tao of Photography by Tom Ang and get over yourselves.

Well done, Andre, as mentioned you are very brave....

Unwanted stuff in pictures

We do photoshoots of condos projects and this is one of the biggest issues we have. We never seem to realize when some annoying wire or tree branch might be in the way!

a very nice article

this is indeed a great article. I am actually laughing at myself because I practice most of the issues pointed... I need to get out more and practice the recommendations using my Olympus E-510 with ZD 50-200mm SWD lens.....

I took this article and put it to good use on a recent trip!


Absolutely fantastic crash course. I actually read this a few days before a trip, took mental notes, and applied a lot of it on a trip down to South America.

See HERE for your humble student's results.

Thanks so much for giving your time and insight so generously!

Great Article

I am just starting out in photography so thanks for this – some really useful tips there.


hey, these are some really great hints, im acsually doing a project on you (andre) at school for my media class... i came onto your site maybe a week ago just to browes through and now have become a regular visiter... i love your work and hope some day to stand next to you as a photographer...


Sir, i was really enlightened by your brief lecture. I'm an aspiring photographer and would want you to be of assisstance to me.It would be an honor learning from you. Hope to hear from you soon.

Most Common Mistakes

I would add not using a tripod. I have found using a tripod not only gives me a sharper image, but it forces me to slow down and really work on composing the shot. With the tripod I feel I am taking a photograph, not a snapshot.
Lets never forget "Its the Photographer, not the Camera."

Towering over kids in the picture

I think when you tower over the kids you dont get nearly as good a picture. Best is closeup non-posed.

Your website

Thank you for a website that we can finally understand. Your articles are interesting, a little bit funny and full of useful information. It is now bookmarked in my favorites and I will be here often.

You've managed to put into

You've managed to put into words a number of principles that simply can not be taught. Excellent work!

The light on the left is

The light on the left is your battery check light. If your batteries are good it will glow bright and steady when you press the shutter release down half way. Usually it dims as the batteries start to die, but maybe it starts flickering on some older cameras. The light on the right is your "low light" warning. It lets you know when you should steady the camera or use a flash. That light also depends on the batteries, so it's function could be affected by low batteries. The LC-A doesn't have through-the-lens metering. The meter is behind the little lens next to the gear thingy that you use to set the film speed. That's the hole that you need to cover to fake the camera into "B" mode, not the lens. The LC-A always keeps the shutter open as long as it needs to to get a proper exposure until you release the shutter release button, . In other words, if the proper exposure would be 30 seconds but you release the button immediately, the shutter will close immediately. You always need to keep the shutter button pressed until you . There is no other way to tell that the shutter has been closed. For a short exposure, the second click comes so quickly that it sounds like one click. For a long exposure, it will be noticeable and you have to keep holding the shutter release button until you hear it. My recommendation - get some new batteries.

True, and a good car will

True, and a good car will make you a better driver. A good set of clubs will turn you into Tiger Woods. And a brain might turn you into the Scarecrow from Wizard of Oz.

Interesting article and some inquiries

Hey all,

Nice article, i spent my time since 2006 until now on the net about photography.

My problem is not to get nice photos, this is the easiest part, but my problem is how to get award-winning and masterpiece or art photos. Everyone has a camera and can snapshot on anything and get great shots, but what making one shot to be remarkable and winner over another shot? and what make a professional photographer to be professional if the amateur using same camera that the professional using?

I found out within 3 years that photography is a beautiful thing, i love it, and the more i give it the more it gives me back, and talking about myself i was always telling people in many websites and in my area that i feel bored and i will give up photography, but i didn't and i keep continuing, my works started to be exposed, and this encouraging me to do more and more, i know there are many amazing and art photos there that i want to do or reach same level, but i know within a time with all conditions like keep learning and practicing and reading and experimenting in additions to contact with other photographers all over the world these all will help us to reach high level.

I had read many topics on the net on different websites or forum talking about talent, art and equipment, so i don't just talk a talent alone, but i grow my talent and skill and equipment to get the best results and works as much as i can, 4mp camera even producing amazing photos can't beat cameras which is 16-40mp in resolution and large printing, if i am good with 4 or 6mp cameras i can be good also on 20 or 30mp cameras, so here i will prefer those high pixels cameras to make higher and larger prints for galleries and so, and it is no mistake for someone to own great equipment if that will help, ofcourse talent is very important, but as equipment has limits also talent has limit, so make the equipment to exceed the limit of your talent and vise versa.

Now my questions is: i do have thousands or say millions of photos, i am happy with many of them, now how can i make sure that my photos are really nice and masterpiece rather than they are just good shots? As someone said here, getting comments like: "WOW, Amazing, Stunning, this is the most interesting or beautiful shot i've ever seen" is not enough, these comments will not make a photo to be an art, and there are some photos as arts may not get those kind of comments, so how can someone turn his photos to be as art and not just those photos of beautiful scenes and including "WOW" factor because of Photoshop or high quality camera.

Awesome question

Hello Tareq,

this is an awesome question. I think it is wonderful that someone has the courage to ask the right questions. If you don't mind, I am going to create an entirely new article just answering this question.
Meanwhile, here are a few short hints:
-Why bother? Art is subjective and unless you have a name it all comes down if you are pleasing the masses or some editor or judge, but should you really look at your art this way or rather take the best possible photographs you can. Once you establish your style, which can take many years, people will start to cherish it. You will build a small crowd of followers and you will appeal to some people. I'd rather please 10 people with a unique taste then 10,000 people who follow the mainstream and thus can find the same photographs on countless other websites.
-Look at my article on the Zen Photographer. Its all about your perspective. Maybe you are trying too hard or maybe you take things too seriously. You need to back up a bit. Once I started enjoying myself more, it showed in my pictures and once I stopped worrying about location, sunset and timing, hastily trying to cover as many locations as I could in a futile pursuit of more photographs to finally get that Uber-shot, I realized that my photography became better. It became me and my style started showing through. Take it slow, get that beginners mindset back and try new things, even if you already know they cannot work. Your expertise is getting in the way.
-You are right. Don't look at Megapixels, Zoom, Image Stabilization .... Ansel Adams didn't have those and his pictures still inspire. Doesn't mean he wouldn't use these things to enhance his work.
-Forget your camera controls. You need to be intimately familiar with your camera. It must be like driving your car. Once you don't pay attention, you can focus on your scene. You can drift away, get into the zone and lose yourself. Only then will you be able to create awesome work. I found that I need to slow down, even meditate or get my mind off all the nasty things that determine our lives to lose myself in my photography. THEN GREAT SHOTS HAPPEN.
-I don't care if everyone likes my photographs. Many people do and that is gratifying. You cannot please everyone, because that would mean you are not doing something extraordinary. Meritocracy usually pleases more people than true vision.

Thank you very much for your

Thank you very much for your reply, Andre.

You can create a new article and i will be glad to read it later then.

About your points in your answer, you are right, i was so hard on myself and i was taking it so seriously, but many many people told me that i should enjoy it myself and i shouldn't go and please people, they will respect my works sooner or later when i can build a self-confidence about my photography and i enjoy it, worrying much about what others will think about my works will not help me to go further more, and believe it or not, from last year when i started to do it a fun and hobby for myself, this year i got rewarded, and seems from this year and later on i will have a lot in photography in a condition that i keep enjoying and satisfying myself first, and also i do my best always, and i will keep improving my skill and with many comments everywhere I've got that my photography is great then i shouldn't worry anymore and keep going on the right way, just as you said in your answer, so i respect all what you said and i wish you all the best, each will have his own place in the life.

Thanks Tareq, sounds to me

Thanks Tareq,

sounds to me like you are well on your way to achieve exactly what you hope for.
In the end, there is only so much we can learn about composition and light. Eventually we need to make our own choices and forget about rules.
Many people are looking for easy button solutions (rule of thirds) and then apply them almost religiously without sense. I can see that you are not like that.

No, i am not like that, i

No, i am not like that, i try to be more flexible in photography even with rules, and i travel once every year specially for photography, so i don't have any excuse to do bad shots as i may not go back same places, so i do photography as it is my last chance anywhere.

Give it a look at my profile gallery:

Still i didn't updated or posted more photos, i've got amazing wonderful shots from New Zealand my last trip, and later when i head to New York i will include more work there.

I think your photography is

I think your photography is beautiful. I don't like the way you process your pictures, but that is just a matter of my personal taste. As I said, you cannot appeal to everyone.
I believe that some of your success will come natural and for some other you need to work hard and market your photography and make sure it gets seen when people are searching for pictures.

OK, i will do that, i just

OK, i will do that, i just used HDR too much on my last works since 2007 or 2008, so for now i will post my best natural shots!
Yes, i will try hard to marketing my works, it will take time but i won't give up, thank you very much!


....thanks your honor,,,,
its great to know all about this... now i really want to enroll in photography class.,
thanks alot,this info has a great contribution to our required creation of website,,,
i owe you a lot....thanks

very very useful...nice job

very very useful...nice job

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