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There are plenty of reasons why photos are bad...
It might be poor lighting or composition. It could be the wrong camera settings or even the wrong kind of gear. It might even be something as simple as a dirty lens or a bad quality print.
Being aware of common beginner photography mistakes is one thing. Knowing how to fix bad photos is another.
In this quick guide, I address three highly common problems with photos and offer solutions to rectify them.
Let's get started!
How to Fix Bad Photos - Don't Use the Pop-Up Flash
Image Credit: vgajic via iStock
One of the most common errors I see beginner photographers make is using the pop-up flash to illuminate dark subjects.
I realize the flash is there specifically for that purpose, but the light from a pop-up flash is extremely harsh, washes out the subject, and creates highlights that are too bright and shadows that are too dark. Plus, if you aren't close enough to the subject, you'll end up with a bright foreground and a subject that's still too dark, as shown above.
Part of the solution to this issue is to simply not use the pop-up flash.
But that begs the question - how do you light a photograph if you can't use the pop-up flash?
Image Credit: monkeybusinessimages via iStock
There are many different things you can try.
If you're indoors, turn on every light in the room. Heck, bring in additional lamps if you can. The more ambient light there is, the better.
You can also move the subject to a window and capitalize on any natural light that's coming through, as was done in the photo above.
If all else fails, consider buying a good speedlite flash (like this one) that allows you to adjust the direction of the light and even bounce it off a wall or ceiling to soften its illumination.
Image Credit: Alina Demidenko via iStock
If you're shooting outside and find the subject to be a little dark, again, you can use a speedlite to provide some fill light on the subject.
Another option is to use a reflector to bounce light onto the subject. Reflectors come in packs of five (like this), each of which offers a different look and color temperature for the photo.
Of course, photographing subjects outdoors is best done during Golden Hour, when the light is beautifully warm and soft. Timing your shoot with sunrise or sunset is the best thing you can do to improve lighting for outdoor photo shoots!
Common Beginner Photography Mistake - Overediting
You can usually spot a beginner's photos on Instagram and Facebook because they sometimes look like they've been through the wringer in post-processing.
Whether it's boosting the saturation to unnatural levels, adding filters that are either too strong or too many in number, or adding things like grain, borders, and other effects, there's certainly a lot that can go wrong when processing an image.
Typically, the less-is-more approach is the best one for editing your images.
You should strive to get as much right about the image when you take it, from lighting to composition to camera settings, that way you have less that needs attention when you edit your photos.
Not sure how to edit your images in a way that enhances them without overdoing it? Watch the video above by Sawyer Hartman for some excellent editing tips.
Why Photos are Bad - Poor Print Quality
A final beginner photography mistake I want to touch on is the prevalence of getting low-quality prints.
Though it might seem like the hard work is done once you've edited an image, nothing could be further from the truth.
If you have a special image you want to turn into a gorgeous print, you need to do a little due diligence and find a printer that creates high-quality, long-lasting prints that will do justice to all the work you put into creating the photo in the first place.
Many printers have a "fast and cheap" method of producing prints, and those prints look like they were made fast and cheap. Therein lies the issue of why your photos might look bad.
If you want to make your creations shine, then you need to get prints that are made with premium materials that are durable and beautiful at the same time.
CanvasHQ fits the bill on both fronts.
I've used CanvasHQ for my prints for quite some time now, and I'm continually impressed with the incredible quality of the prints I get in the mail.
In addition to using archival-grade canvas, they also use high-quality inks that are resistant to fading, stand up to moisture, and are easy to clean.
The frames behind their prints are handmade using kiln-dried wood, so even the elements of the print you don't see are painstakingly created.
And I know what you're thinking...these guys are expensive and slow, right?
They've managed to develop a printing process that's not only of the highest quality, but also has quick turnaround time (I often get my prints in just two days) and prices you can't beat.
It really is the best of all worlds when it comes to CanvasHQ.
If you're ready to take your photos to the next level, don't just worry about lighting and camera settings and how you edit the photo. Finish the process with a top-notch print, and you'll have lasting memories hanging on your wall that you can truly be proud of.