Unimaginative Subject Matter.
Lens Flare Faux Pas.
Forget About Black & White.
Combining Color and Black and White.
Inappropriate Watermarks or Other Photo-Protection Devices.
Don’t Be Fooled by HDR.
Shoot in Horizontal or Vertical Format, Not Between.
Photo Titles, Sayings and Messages.
Too many digital photographers haven’t developed the creative mindset to think beyond the typical subject matter seen in many images, such as sunsets, flowers in the garden or a pet playing on the lawn or in the park. You’ll know you are advancing as a photographer when you can shoot these subjects with a creative twist, making the mundane or every-day world dynamic and appealing to viewers.
Lens flare is an acceptable technique to enhance appropriate scenes and subjects, but you want to be sure you understand how to use it, before you try it. The stereotypical lens-flare gives photos an unnatural look, and will often dominate your actually scene or subject. The amateur photographer’s mistake is to create lens flare with the bright, midday sun. The softer light of dusk is a much better source of lens flare.
Another method that distinguishes amateur from professional photography is shooting in black and white because the amateur thinks it is creative. It could be creative, but only in the hands of a photographer who understands why and how to use black and white. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s better for the amateur to learn color photography concepts and techniques before trying to be artistic with black and white.
Another stereotypical method that amateurs think is creative is a black and white image with a portion of it rendered in full color: a black and white photo of a small child holding a red ball, a full-color flower against a black-and-white background or a black-and-white portrait with the person’s eye color revealed. These actually become distractions to what you are trying to show and the message you are trying to send.
Amateurs should learn this lesson from the pros early in their photography experience. Nothing says “amateur” more than a gaudy watermark slapped across a photo. You can identify and protect your images with an appropriate border and a small watermark in a lower corner of each image.
HDR is High Dynamic Range and has its legitimate uses when manipulating images in post processing; however, don’t allow it to become a standard technique. Typically, when amateurs apply HDR, colors appear over-saturated or look unnatural in relation to the lighting conditions. Learn how to create excellent photos in the camera instead of relying on various editing tricks, such as HDR.
There are few instances when angling your camera somewhere between landscape (horizontal) and portrait (vertical) formats results in an interesting or compelling photo. Many amateurs rely on this technique to include details in the picture that wouldn’t be there in a landscape or portrait view. They haven’t yet learned to move themselves to a wider view or to switch to a lens with a wider angle. Holding your camera at a tilted angle can prove useful for street photography, representing the dynamics and vibe of the street in a random or radical manner. Otherwise, the “camera tilt” is of no value for the great majority of photographers.
Even amateur photos share an artistic goal with most creative, professional images, and other works of fine art. This is allowing viewers to interpret and appreciate your photos from their point of view without you trying to influence them with silly titling, cute sayings or unnecessary messages imprinted on the image. You want viewers to see and enjoy your photos in their entirety.
Image credit: gobrayrosse / 123RF Stock Photo
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