9 Photography Mistakes That You Are Probably Making

July 01, 2015  •  6 Comments


Over the years I’ve seen some trends come and go in Photography, and while I am biased to the Landscape genre, I’m certain that elitism and big egos exist in other genres. From the community aspect, to the lack of it, here are some common problems people make when trying to “make it” in this big old world. Take each of them as you would a passing joke, but the overriding message is, LIGHTEN THE HELL UP! TAKE IT IN JEST!


I could have written so many more... If you want more, comment below!


1.       Giving your images Groaner names

The Path Where You WalkedThe Path Where You WalkedMt Alford, Queensland

^Guilty! Formal, full name was "The Path Where You Walked Will Blossom Again" later shortened to "The Path"

Oh boy, this one would have to take the cake of incredibly annoying! Why?! Because they’re all so cliché, or they so clearly came from the name of your favourite song, dad jokes or common phrases that have been used beyond death. Have a think about your images, don’t just call it “The Long Road” for a picture of a road, and think about what the road represents, or, give it an ironical name. Be clever, think about your title… Don’t be boring and predictable! Don’t add fancy character map crap, no sentences - exercise some constraint and be straightforward! It’s like naming a pet, you need something smart, sassy and respectable. You don’t want to be calling out awkward names in the dead of night!


Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it too, I’m guilty as well… I think we all are! The title of your work will either draw the viewer in, turn them away, or leave them wondering what the reference is. If you have a few words to say on an image, put it in the title. It’s a much more powerful place to add your inference. Hardly anyone reads the description anymore!

I’ve sold several images based on their titles invoking a memory with a viewer. They ended up finding different meanings in all of my images, ones I hadn’t even considered.


2.       Getting caught up in Gear-Wankery

^ Loooookkkk at all my gorgeous brands! BUUURRRAAANNNDDDD!!!!

The deep truth here is that everyone wants the reassurance that they made the right choice in the gear they bought. They want to defend their purchase choices by slagging off others for theirs in order to feel like bigger men. It’s one thing to really love your gear, and it’s another to mock others because they bought something that you don’t think is worthy.

Start small and grow with your gear, don't grow into it.

Debating whether Nikon is better than Canon or Sony or Pentax or PhaseOne or Sigma are better than one another for a few differing features only holds water as long as people keep arguing about it. The photographer makes the images, the camera is the slave that captures it. Sure, some cameras handle different subjects better than others. Everyone buys what's’ in their means, you don’t know their life, so stop judging the photographer on the camera they use!

Same goes for those who love to tell you that you paid too much for a certain item or accessory. Please, get over it. Grow up and focus your energies on your photography, because chances are you’ve spent so much time in forums arguing over the finer details of depth of field in an 85mm 1.4 lens than you have not paying attention to the halo’ing in your post processing.



3.       Calling yourself “Award-Winning” When You’ve Never Won A Top Prize

Two TeepeesTwo TeepeesBurnie, Tasmania

Oh lordy. This one is sure to rub some of you up the wrong way.

Those lovely little merit awards that you get in online and international photography competitions, are NOT top prizes. Calling yourself award-winning should only be reserved for when you take out the GRAND PRIZE or top of your category. Over 45% of competition entrants receive a Merit award - which is meant to say “hey, your image is up there with the benchmark of the competition, here’s a bronze, silver or gold star” when entering online comps, this makes you neither special nor worthy of such accolades. You are misleading and falsifying your success in order to gain from it.

I know that there will be an indignant few who feel it is their right because they paid to enter, however, you are shortchanging the person who did win, the sponsors, the competition and the general public, all to give yourself a shinier appearance. It does the opposite.


PS. You know that Garbage Collectors now call themselves Waste Disposal Consultants.

Lol, right? There’s some difference in the perceived professionalism right there.


4.       Claiming Purist Photography is SOOC Images Because You Can’t Process

^ I've been accused several times of "Faking" this... hmmm okay...

SOOC or Straight Out Of Camera is a great shooting technique and an important one in your journey of self-discovery through the lens. But, there are some caveats.  Like all things in this world, we have choices, we have beliefs and morals. At least, we used to. As red-hot as the debate over which camera to use, is the one that an image is too over processed, or it’s “photoshopped” because it’s either too unbelievable or beautiful to possibly be real.

The flipside of this camp of belief, is that if you’ve done anything to it in Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture or your chosen post program, then it therefore loses its artistic merit because you have supposedly “cheated.” Post processing is not cheating, neither is SOOC a purist form of photography. Most often the vengeful keyboard warriors come out in support of SOOC because they do not know, or want to know, how to post process an image. Sometimes (but not always) this reason is financial, technical or educational; Adobe is attempting to rectify this with the cheap $10 per month Cloud subscription to services, so what’s the excuse.

Why all this unnecessary hate, slander and vitriol?


5.       Trying To Master Every Genre

^ I used to love shooting nightclubs. Not so much anymore, the flame burnt out after I found Landscape.

Jack of all trades. Master of none.

Never before has this rang truer than to the average camera owner.

I get that you love this powerful conglomeration of electronics, glass and magic all sewn up into the sexy black housing, it makes you feel invincible, it makes you feel professional...

But really, are you doing yourself or your practice any favours by claiming that you shoot everything well- whether it is living, dead, human, flora, fauna, man made, natural or intergalactic?


But what are you awesome at?

How many world-wide professionals do you see that shoot every genre? I’d say none to not many, because the constant pursuit of EVERYTHING is enough to tire out the average kid on adult-strength uppers. Pick one or two main genres, keep some others on the side for fun. The ones that light a fire in your belly, put a smile on your face and make you feel addicted to doing more, are the ones that you are good at and should keep pursuing.

The ones that don’t give you that rush, time to give em up, eh?


6.    Trying to be Awesome From The Very First Day You Pick Up A Camera 

Warming VatnajökullWarming VatnajökullSouth Iceland

^ Accept that you have a journey ahead of you. See what I did there ;)

All good things take time to develop.

Fine wines age for years, and in this case, is the perfect metaphor.

In the beginning, you’re still finding your focus, still developing a style and you’re a bit rough around the edges, haven’t quite settled and this is perfectly normal. Take some time to explore, learn, grow and realize who you are as a photographer before choosing to specialize in something. Trying to be everything in a month, you may achieve it, but you may struggle to understand the hows and whys. Mind you, talent still exists, but it is foolish to expect that you’ll get it from the very first shoot. Like wines, you can be the Shiraz-Cabernet, but if you try be a blend of all the different varieties, you don’t taste any good, which cheapens you.


Yes there are prodigies out there. There are those who just get it and create magic. The secret is not to pretend like you're one.

Accept that because you are still learning, the camera will not possess you and enable to you to create images that are amazing. It’s inside you, somewhere.


7.       A Silver Platter Please, I’m New To This...

The Last CaressThe Last Caress

^ Give me all your best locations, NOW! CHOP CHOP! One of my most requested.

This also relates to the point above. The urge to get amongst the hottest and best can be an intoxicating experience. There are new photographers being made every day. People will pick up a camera and begin to get the hang of the basics fairly quickly. Expecting seasoned shooters to disclose all of their hard-earned research so that you can diversify quickly is beyond frustrating. Be prepared for most to say no. There is great learnings that come from picking a location, shooting it and evaluating the efforts vs results. This is an important lesson for everyone, not just the beginner.


Some offer up locations readily, but those that are not disclosed may be for several reasons (such as permission gained to enter private property), which you should respect and not ask for implicit instructions in order to get to the same spot. Not everything is a readily-reproducible formula, learn this and understand the ways.

Be patient, be respectful, there are no silver-platters.


8.  Attacking someone personally when offering constructive criticism:

Natural BridgeNatural Bridge

^ My own backyard. Images taken here are frequently debated...


I often have seen this in forums, which is why I don’t visit forums anymore;


“I don’t know why the photographer chose that angle, it is not flattering and makes the model look fat. Photographer is clearly stupid and cannot tell the difference between ISO and fstop”


You weren’t asked to host a Roast for the photographer, so quit it with the personal attacks. I’m getting so tired of seeing destructive remarks for personal reasons, when an image was presented. Judge on what is in front of you, try to make light of what they could have done, but remember, without seeing the surrounds, you’re only guessing. Make inferences about the image, not the creator.

I feel somewhat sad that I have to talk about people like they’re in kindergarten.  Play nice or NOT AT ALL. This follows on from knowing when to say something, and when to keep your mouth SHUT.


9. Attacking others’ images because they’re not as good, or worthy, as yours



^ Soothing... Calming... BE CALM DAMMIT!


Following on from the previous point, this one deserved an entire section of its’ own.

This is sadly becoming more and more truthful as the days pass. It seems to be growing in unfortunate popularity to sully, dismay or put down an image or the creator if an image is not deemed worthy of its position in popular ranking, or for a variety of self-centered egotistical reasons. This is childish bullying behaviour and has to stop.

This may even occur for the following and completely useless reasons:


  • Photographer A does not believe that Photographer B’s image is real / authentic / not photoshopped and therefore sees fit to publicly question its status in often put-down, raw assertions of false-authority or showing just how egotistical they are.

  • Photographers A+C-Z have ganged up on B and with the unfortunate power of group bullying, have sullied the well-intentioned efforts of B.

  • Photographer A believes they are the KING of the genre and therefore the authority on what is and what is not a meritable image.

  • Photographer A is protecting imagined “territory” from which they take tours and feels it necessary to attack Photographer B’s efforts in a desperate grab to retain the clientele wishing to visit said territory.

  • Photographer A is jealous that Photographer B created something they didn’t do first, and attacks on whatever technical detail they can, whether small or large

  • Photographer A has clearly never heard the phrase “If you have nothing positive to contribute, then shut your mouth.”

  • Photographer B supposedly says something in a description that Photographer A takes offence to, even if it wasn’t directed at them.

  • Photographer A is a egomaniacal jerk.


If you’re feeling offended, it’s probably time you examined yourself and thought about why.

Though, if you feel the need to prove me wrong, please, comment below.



Matthew Saville(non-registered)
10. Ginormous watermarks.

(tongue in cheek!)
Shelley Warbrooke(non-registered)
This is a cracker Mel and spot on.

Much of the reason why I steer clear of a lot of photographers...or at least the ones who take things far too seriously all of the time. It's a shame because I enjoy sharing a shoot with others, especially landscapes and hikes but there always seems to be some crazy element of competition in the mix and that's not why I take photos!

I am shocking on the name front too. It's addictive...
Timothy Poulton(non-registered)
I'm a big fan of your writing as you know and love this one the most, too many people taking it all so seriously out there and up to all sorted of nasty behaviour, just remember karma can be just as cruel!
Terry Boyd(non-registered)
Thanks for the lighthearted look, Mel. I now feel a little better about protecting (guarding?) some of my locations. I also need to review many of my titles, lol!
Brett Chatwin(non-registered)
Hi Mel, I will be the first to make a comment :) Very well put Mel and evoked a lot of thought and covered an area I always have had an issue. It happened again the other night on the Aurora Tas FB page somebody asking where to go to photograph an aurora round Burnie. I just said plenty of places and I got hammered by comments and private messages asking where? I have spent years finding suitable places and didnt comment or reply to any of the messages. If its ok by you can I steal part of your blog and place it on the AAT FB page? Cheers Brett
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