HOW TO TAKE GOOD PHOTOS – 20 beginner mistakes – Tips & Tricks


Hey colleague! Are you a beginner photographer or just wondering how to take good photos? This is the perfect place for you! I collected the 20 most common mistakes committed by beginner photographers along with the best tips and tricks to solve them!

I am sure this article will be helpful and if you think I missed any point in the list, don’t hesitate to comment below in order to help me to make this guide the ultimate landmark for beginners.


I know it could sound a smart choice to delegate the task to decide all the settings to the camera, but there is nothing more wrong than shooting photos in Auto Mode.

Be the artisan of your photos! Decide where to focus, set the exposure consciously, control the amount of blur and be aware when you need to freeze the action or not.

Force yourself to shoot in Aperture (A/AV) or Shutterspeed (S/TV) mode to achieve the best results with your camera and in extreme light conditions consider to switch in full manual (M).

Remind that your camera is a great piece of technology, but it will never predict what’s in the mind of the artist!

If you are guessing how to take good photos in Manual Mode, I prepared a short guide for you here.


I won’t explain to you right now in detail everything about the histogram, but I want only to tell you that even if it could seem tricky to read, it gives you very important information which helps you to expose correctly your photos.

The histogram is a graphical representation of the tonal values of your photo and it’s so much more trustable than just check the back LCD of your camera. Without going too deep in the topic, the left side represents the “blacks and shadows” the right instead of the “whites and highlights”, naturally the middle gives you indications about the “midtones”.

The histogram below is a general example of a well-exposed photo (there are some exceptions). All the tonal values are well balanced along the horizontal line and there is no shadow/highlight clipping.

What is clipping? It’s when part of the histogram touches the edge. It indicates areas totally black or white, absent of details and information, hardly recoverable, especially if you shoot in JPG and not in RAW.

Keep an eye on the histogram and you won’t waste a single photo because of any exposure mistakes!

Example of underexposed and overexposed histograms.


The great Leonardo da Vinci said:

“Details make perfection, and perfection is not a detail.”

Take your time, don’t rush and be mindful of whatever is going on in the frame. You will look very finicky, but it will make all the difference. Remove that empty plastic bottle, button properly the shirt, don’t let people pose with the smartphones, these are only a few of infinite details you have to take care of before shooting.

Sometimes just a step forward or backward will let you avoid a distracting object and transform your photo from a snapshot to a great one. Visualize the picture in your mind before pressing the button, give the proper air to the subject and cut the elements thinking about the final result.

Practice makes perfect! Don’t spray n’ pray! Check your past photos and think about what you could have done to improve them.


This mistake may result from a lack of knowledge about the camera, so it could be easily correctable giving a nice read to the manual, tip which I wide to all the concerns you may have.

Generally, all the modern cameras have 4 basic focus mode: Automatic (AF-A), Static (AF-S), Continuous (AF-C) and Manual (M). (More focus modes are available on pro bodies, like 3D-AF, EYE-AF…)

How should you decide which one to use?

Automatic: I would never suggest using this mode, the camera decides the point to focus on according to its IA.

AF-S: When the subject is static, you just need to choose the focus point, pressing the shutter button halfway the focus will be set.

AF-C: When your subject is moving, I really suggest you switch to continuous focus in order to try to keep it in focus.

Manual: When your subject is static and/or you are working with a really shallow depth of field, you will have a lot of fun using manual focus. It makes the process to take photos much slower, giving a unique satisfaction.

Be conscious of all the features your camera offers you, get confident with your bodies and lenses and you won’t miss a focus anymore.


I used to hate carrying the tripod, especially when I was traveling! It took me a long time to decide to invest in this piece of equipment, but now I and my tripod are very good friends.

There are several reasons why you should consider to buy one. The first one surely is the wide range of creative possibilities you will have once your camera is combined with it. Think about long exposures, astro, and macro photography, deep depth of field shots in low light and more. Even in normal conditions, it will help you to get sharper photos, thank its stability and will push you to spend more time composing your picture.

Personally, I started to use daily the tripod after I bought a very light and easy to carry one, the magic Manfrotto BeFree Carbon! Only 1100g in 40cm (closed) to have a good stable mate tall 142cm.


Nothing is more unpleasant than a wonky horizon, nothing is easier to fix than a wonky horizon.

You should think to keep the horizon straight already in camera, but just in case you fail doing that, fix it as one of the first steps of the editing (you will lose part of the picture cropping the photo, so keep it in mind).

An uneven horizon is acceptable if you wanna reach an artistic purpose. Use this kind of composition if it helps you to deliver a message.


Why is this photo blurry? not sharp? There may be plenty of reasons why your photos don’t look clean or as you expected. The most common causes are:

WRONG FOCUS POINTIt’s easy to misfocus of a little the right point, especially working with a wide aperture and shallow depth of field or when the subject is moving forward and backward. A common mistake in portraits is to focus on the eyelashes or the nose, missing the eyes.

SLOW SHUTTER SPEED – The shutter speed or exposure time is the length of time when the digital sensor inside the camera is exposed to light. As you can understand if the exposure time is too long, it will be impossible to freeze the subject and in certain cases, the micromovements of the camera will introduce vibrations in the photo.

So in accord with the circumstances choose a proper shutter speed and don’t be afraid to pump the ISO if it’s the only way to get a good shot. Remember, better a grainy photo than no photo at all.

NOT ENOUGH STABILITYBe mindful, you don’t need to dance the salsa when you are pressing the shutter button. Try your best to keep the camera as much stable as possible, take more shots if you are taking photos in hard conditions. If you really cannot take the shot freehand, use a tripod or put the camera on a safe stable spot!

TOO HIGH ISO – The ISO, in digital photography, represents the sensitivity of the image sensor to the light. Basically, increasing the ISO brings more light to the photo, but not only, pushing the sensitivity too high will introduce noise (grain) in the shot indeed. As you can understand playing not carefully with the ISO will cause an important loss of details.

You should be aware of your sensor’s limits and deal with it in according, without being afraid. It’s possible to reduce the noise in post-production but this method could result in a plastic cartoon effect.


If in a first instance this statement could be considered partially true, it’s even true that more expensive cameras produce better files, no better photos. Noone still patented “Amazing Photos” mode, it’s still the main function of the photographer creates, invents, experiments to impress the viewer. 

Take your responsibilities, go out and focus on taking pictures, don’t stick on the tool you are using. Phone, Film, DSLR, Mirrorless is not important! The message and the reasons behind a photo are so much more.


Strictly related to the composition, the lack of spatial awareness can make a big difference in the grade of pleasantness viewing a photo. There are no fixed rules to follow, even if some guidelines exist, but be aware of the entirety of the frame is crucial. 

A common mistake is leaving to much space in the upper part, not filling the frame bringing the attention on the subject details, in other words, don’t use all the Megapixel of your sensor portraying something interesting.

My advice? Give a look to the traditional composition rules and study other photographers’ photos!

One great website I use to browse is Juzaphoto. Here you can find tons of material produced by amatorial and professional photographers from which take inspiration and learn more about this world.


Why should we limit the field of view at the head perspective? Don’t be afraid to get dirty, lay on the ground, play with the environment and discover new points of view.

Sometime this perspective could be boring, show to the viewer a new approach to already well-known situations and the result will be fresher and more innovative.

Cross the boundaries, break the rules!

Church of St. John at Kaneo


Knowing some good poses is a good start to take a good amount of decent photos in a short time, but what about Directing?

Directing is several steps forward from posing and if you practice and get good in that, the results will be amazing.

Just giving a pose will result, most of the time, in your subject staring you or your camera.

Talk with your model, make him/her feel comfortable and give indications. Propose some tasks to accomplish a role to play and be active during the photo shooting.

It’s crucial you stay focused on what’s going on and be ready to take the photo because the perfect shot will manifest in front of you when you less expect it! 

Train your communication skills, don’t be nervous or your subject will be affected by these negative vibes.


Do you like to develop your photos in Lightroom? Don’t get too excited.

It’s a miracle of technology what we can do nowadays to make our photos catchier and more charming, but like everything in life, the answer is in the middle.

I have nothing against postprocessing the photos, digital art or creative projects, but pushing the saturation to match the colors of rainbow won’t make you a better photographer.

Play carefully with the tools available, take the best out from the RAW files and don’t transform a great shot in an “eyesore”.


Maybe “brave” is not the best word, but when you are out to take some street photos, it’s all about to be self-confident and shameless in order to catch the moment and don’t lose the precious shot. 

How much are you committed to telling a story? When you see anything worthy to be immortalized, take a little risk and freeze it with your camera. Most of the time, nothing bad will happen.

Don’t come back home full of regrets for a shot you didn’t take purposely! If you really don’t feel comfortable to steal life snapshots, you could still consider asking to take a portrait, if you see an interesting face.

Remind to be respectful and if you are abroad, learning some words or sentences in the local language will help you a lot to receive a positive answer.

Hoi An, Vietnam, fruit, fruits, sellers, market, seller, local, people, traditional, hat, hats, sleeping, nap, woman


Overcast sky, cold and rainy? This is not a good excuse to cancel your photography day. Naturally, don’t go outside in the middle of the thunderstorm if your purpose is not to take photos of lightning, but don’t be afraid of the bad weather

These conditions sometimes gift singular atmospheres to your photos and since fewer people explore this kind of photography your shots will be even more unique.

Use at your advantage the environment and create super moody shots, challenge yourself and the gratification will be even greater.

Tigris, Kurdish, Kurdistan, Mesopotamia, Landscape, boat, fog, lonely, oppression, Turkey


Spotting great lights is not a gift, it is a skill. You can learn this art! Artists like Caravaggio used to become one of the greatest artists of the Baroque era exploring the boundaries of light art.

Despite you are shooting with natural or flashlights, you should be aware of the light sources. Which is the Key Light (the main one)? How this affects the subject? Can I take advantage of other sources?

Often natural light conditions are not favorable, but keep in mind you can still play with them. The camera is your brush, the lights are your paints.

You can rotate your subject, move around it, bounce the light on a wall or use a reflector to diffuse it. The only borders are your imagination. Studying some common lights set up could be helpful not only for studio photography.


Preparing properly your camera bag is a critical step for a successful photo shooting. As much is important don’t forget any piece of equipment, at the same time it’s crucial don’t overcharge your backpack with non-essential gear, especially if you plan to have long walks.

Each gram to carry on your shoulders will be less time spent taking photos. With the experience, you will master the art of setting up the camera bag.


Reaching specific locations may request a lot of effort, not only in terms of time but also economical and/or physical. Said that, plan your day out carefully!

There is nothing worse than spending 5 hours to arrive on site and not be able to enjoy the place or even came back home without having taken that shot you had in mind.

Be sure to have enough time to get inspired by the location, feel the vibes, get part of the environment. A great photo day should start from the preparation. Try to involve some friends passionate about photography and enjoy all the experience.

“…to await a pleasure, is itself a pleasure.”  – Minna von Barnhelm, Act IV, Scene VI



You took crazy shots during your vacancy…beyond belief landscapes, character faces which tell the story of an entire population…once in a lifetime moments…you cannot wait to come back home and admire your pieces of art on a big screen, undressing all the pixel from their privacy and…and you realize all your photos have been taken in the lowest resolution…

This could be serenely the incipit of a horror movie, but nothing is more terrifying than try this experience on your own skin.

Why don’t you check time to time your settings? Avoid shooting photos and videos in the wrong resolution or format. When you turn off the camera, leave it in a way that will let you grab it and be immediately operative.

Study the manual in your free time, in order to know exactly how to change all the basic settings! 


There is a reason why in the professional bodies there is no internal flash installed. You should take it into consideration only for emergencies or on very few occasions.

One very common mistake is trying to light up a subject too far away and considering the power and size of the internal flash, this attempt will result in darker photos (if you are shooting in auto or semi-auto) or unreadable blur.

If you intend to shoot with flash frequently I strongly suggest you invest in an external unit, which will give so much more satisfaction and naturally better results. Don’t unscrew the flash from your camera, but use it carefully.


“Correct” exposure may be defined as the exposure intended to be achieved by the photographer.

Surely, be able to read the light-meter is helpful, but there is more. Not every time the exposure suggested by the camera is the best one. If you wanna achieve the widest dynamic range possible, the best with a digital camera is to expose for the lights.

Exposing for the lights will result often in an “underexposed” picture, but it’s here that the magic sensors came to help us, especially if we don’t forget to shoot in RAW. It will be very easy to recover the details in the shadows in post process, so much more than recover blown-out highlights (If you are shooting with film, basically it’s the opposite).

So, don’t be afraid to “underexpose” your photos, Lightroom will do the rest!


“The exception proves the rule” – Take these tips and tricks not as rules, but as simple inputs to improve your photography and explore some aspects you could have not considered. There is not a single answer to “How to take good photos”, but in my opinion no photo is sharper or better exposed than an abstract idea came reality through your camera exactly as you dreamt.

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Thanks for reading, see ya 😀