Common mistakes many photographers make

May 10

12 min. to read

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Want to try a new photography style? Check out 4 tips to make sure you'll get the most from it.

Want to try a new photography style? Check out these 4 tips to make sure you get the most from the experience. Most photographers make a few common mistakes, so learn how to avoid them below.

1. Test your new style before re-branding your entire website

Even though you may love the new direction your photography is headed in it may actually cost you clients. Remember that people come to you because they resonate with your particular style. Whenever you make a drastic overall change you are taking a risk that business could plummet. 

If you are well known for being a family photographer that produces natural looking color photos and all of a sudden you shift your focus to dramatic black and whites, you could potentially end up with a lot of unwanted downtime. While offering this new ‘brand’ may attract new clients, it may also cost you loyal customers you worked hard to build a relationship with.

A good way to test your new style would be to post a set of images with your new style on Facebook to see how people react. You can even mention that you're trying out some new looks and would like some feedback. The reason social media is so popular is because people love to express themselves. By giving your clients or potential clients the opportunity to express their opinion you're not only gaining helpful feedback, you're getting people to engage with your work. Anytime someone engages with your work it makes it easier for them to remember you and your business.Common mistakes many photographers make Image1

2. Don’t ‘forget’ the secret sauce

Another common mistake photographers make is not being able to duplicate the editing process once they have created a new technique or look. A good way to make sure this doesn't happen to you is to document the steps as you go. 

An effective approach for doing this is using a screen capturing application to record everything that happens on your screen when working in your photo editor. This method is good for people who don't want to slow down when they are on a roll. By recording the process you go through in editing in a visual format such as video, you afford yourself the option of watching step-by-step exactly how you achieved your new technique. 

I personally prefer this approach. With a video reference, I can pull up my own personal tutorial and see exactly how I achieved the look and feel of a particular image in my portfolio. A great program to record your screen as you work is ‘Voila’ (In the Mac App Store). The reason I recommend this software is that the video files it creates are a fraction of the size of other popular software of a similar nature. Video files take up a lot of space on your hard drive. Voila makes this video journaling approach much more efficient.

If the video isn't your thing you can always take written notes on each step of your process as you go. As long as your notes are very detailed you shouldn't have trouble remembering the process when you go back to try and recreate it with your notes. This method can be distracting, though. You have to stop what you are doing often so you don’t miss an important detail in the editing process. I’m a visual person so the video note method is more effective for me.Common mistakes many photographers make Image2

3. Don’t put all your digital eggs in one basket

When we find that magical plugin or action that makes getting our style with a few simple clicks, we may start to get lazy. It is easy to make the mistake of relying too heavily on this one particular method for achieving the desired end result. If you're striving to create a brand that works for you 2, 5 or even 10 years down the road it is very important to understand how you achieve your ‘look’. 

Don’t just memorize the minimum steps needed to activate an automated workflow. Technology advances very rapidly, so the way you create a finished image today may not work with future versions of software, plug-ins or actions a few months or years down the road. If you love using presets, plugins, or specific apps to edit your images, great! There is nothing wrong with using automation, but also, take the time to understand the mechanics behind the magic buttons or sliders so you don’t edit yourself into a corner.

The logic behind how your processing was achieved will stand the test of time. Color, light and shadow will always be a constant in photography even as the technology evolves. By understanding your craft and being able to duplicate the same look through different techniques you will spare yourself a lot of frustration in the future. 

You will also gain a greater understanding of how light, shadow and color work both behind the lens and in the post-processing stages. A bi-product of this knowledge you’ve earned is being able to eventually start shooting photos with the end product in mind. By doing the hard work now, and learning the nuts and bolts of your new editing style you set yourself up for a streamlined and consistent editing style for years to come.Common mistakes many photographers make Image3

4. Create, don’t imitate!

It’s tempting to jump on the latest photography trends when you have clients constantly showing you their favorite ‘Pinterest’ images. You start to see a pattern our society is leaning towards when it comes to poses, editing techniques, etc. And it’s easy to think that what your creating isn’t fitting into the current trends. 

While this may actually be the case, it is not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve all heard the saying ‘Dress for the job you want, not the job you have’. Well I say ‘Create for the clients you want, not the clients you have’. If your current clients are always pressuring you to make their photos fit a trend that goes against your instincts as a photographer, you are probably not reaching your ideal clients. 

Be bold! If you really feel what your doing is more interesting or timeless than today’s trends, explain to your clients why they should choose you over the other photographers out there. People who are not photographers themselves often like something because it feels ‘safe’ to them. But when you explain that you want to give them photos that they will be proud of 30 years from now, not just proud of for a year, they start seeing value in your service. I like to compare photography to the music industry. Most of the songs we will remember for a lifetime were written by the ‘pioneers’ of a genre.Common mistakes many photographers make Image4

Sure, there were lot’s of bands that sounded similar for every era and genre of music. However, the artists that first blessed our ears with those new and fresh sounds are most often the ones that we as a society respect and admire the most. It is in our nature to love trend-setters. 

So if you know you are in the middle of writing your photographic equivalent of ‘Dark Side of the Moon’… let the imitators keep on imitating. You focus on being the next person they want to imitate! At the very least, you will be proud that you bring a unique approach to the table, even if it’s not immediately appreciated. Feeling proud of your work can be the fuel that keeps your creative fire burning, helping to ensure a long and fruitful career as a photographer.

A common mistake is not using photo software.

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Stephen McAnulla, Great Bend, KS

A professional photographer with extensive experience in HDR, Portrait, Wedding, Newborn, Senior, Street and Product Photography.  Website: www.StephenMcAnulla.com

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