I know what you're thinking...
Beginner photographers can make way more than five mistakes when they take photos.
And while that might be true, the five mistakes I outline below are among the most common - and the easiest to fix.
Using the Built-In Flash
Whether it's the pop-up flash on your DSLR or the flash on your phone's camera, using these harsh light sources is a bad plan.
The light emitted from a built-in flash is extremely bright. That blows out the highlights of your photos and creates harsh, dark shadows in the shot as well.
All that contrast and dynamic range makes for an ugly photo...
Instead, try to find ways to use natural light.
You can do that by shooting outdoors during Golden Hour when the sun's light is soft and warm.
If you're shooting indoors, utilize natural light coming through windows to help light your subject. To soften it, diffuse the light with a sheer curtain or a plain white sheet.
You can also use a reflector to bounce light onto your subject both indoors and out, resulting in more even lighting.
Shooting in JPG Mode
For whatever reason, I see a lot of beginner photographers shooting their photos in JPG mode.
Back in the day, photographers sometimes used JPG mode to save space on memory cards. Since JPGs are compressed files, you could fit more of them onto a card than a RAW file.
However, memory cards have such enormous capacity these days that there's really no reason to continue shooting in JPGs.
All that compression of the image file means that you have less data to work with in post-processing, so instead of handicapping yourself with JPGs, shoot in RAW so you can work some magic in Photoshop, Lightroom, and so forth.
Another common beginner photography mistake is to simply stand in one spot and press the shutter button.
Not only will this result in boring photos, but it hinders your ability to get creative with different perspectives and shooting angles.
Instead of standing up straight and taking your photos from your eye level, kneel down, sit down, squat down or even lay down on the ground to find more interesting angles from which to shoot.
Additionally, actually move around the subject to see if there's a better perspective to take the photo.
Just moving a few feet in one direction or the other can help you capitalize on better light, an improved shape, or it could help you eliminate a distracting element in the background.
Using the Wrong Lens
If you're using a 24mm wide-angle lens for portraits or a 400mm lens for landscapes, you're only making things more difficult for yourself.
This isn't to say that you can't ever use a wide-angle lens for portraits or a telephoto lens for landscapes, but there are better choices.
Some beginners are die-hard zoom lens fans, and while zooms do offer a degree of focal length flexibility that prime lenses cannot, they're also not as sharp as prime lenses, they're bigger and bulkier than primes, and they're often more expensive, too.
If you're just starting out and all you have is your kit lens, which is usually an 18-55mm zoom, the first lens you should buy is a 50mm.
These lenses are easy to use, versatile, and inexpensive. Add to that their incredible sharpness and great performance in low-light, and you have the makings of a great all-around lens.
Relying on Free Editing Programs
I get that plunking down a bunch of cash for a program like Photoshop isn't everyone's cup of tea.
However, there's a reason that such programs are for sale and not free - they are packed with incredible tools that allow you to perfect your images.
Now, they aren't the only two options for post-processing, but Photoshop and Lightroom are certainly the cream of the crop.
If you insist on using a free photo editor, there's nothing better than GIMP, which looks and functions a lot like Photoshop, but without the price tag.
Editor's Creative Tip: Take your photos to a whole new level by having them printed as fine art. Find out how by clicking here.
If you're not pleased with the results you're getting with your photography, the chances are good that you're just making a couple of simple mistakes, like those I've outlined above.
The key is to be patient, take time to practice and learn, and be diligent about identifying what's going wrong and taking steps to fix it.
For more details about common beginner photography mistakes, check out the video above by Joe Allam.