The 5 most common mistakes as a beginner photographer
They say no one is born a master. Even as a photographer, you start as a beginner at some point, and until you have taken the first couple of shots worth publishing, you will make many mistakes, just like any other photographer before you. We have compiled the most common mistakes for beginners so you can avoid them on your journey to become a photographer.
SPENDING Too Much MONEY
So you bought yourself that fancy digital camera, and probably you had to save money for a long time to be able to buy it. Being a beginner can get frustrating if you don't get the desired results quite from the start. If your first photos just don't look like those of professionals, you start thinking you might need better lenses or an even better camera and that whole lot of technical gadgets marketed to you as the key to becoming a better photographer. But don't be fooled. Photography equipment is a billion-dollar market in which you can easily spend a lot of money for no reason, so the most important recommendation is: Don't spend money on equipment unless you are absolutely certain you will need it! Instead, learn the basics first. If you absolutely mastered the tools you already own, you can think of buying better ones.
It doesn't always have to be the most expensive lens and the most up-to-date camera. Even a cheap lens can take great pictures, and if you master it properly, your shots may look even more artistic than anything you could take with professional equipment while lacking the proper skills. By the way: Grandpa's camera used to take great pictures. How about bringing it back to life and taking it out to practice? It doesn't even cost you anything! Maybe you run into another vintage camera lover and meet your first fans.
Calling yourself a Photographer
The next common mistake is somewhat of a controversy. People starting photography often refer to themselves as a photographer right away and also market themselves as such in social media or on their website to potential customers. But: A camera doesn't make you a photographer, just like a wrench doesn't make you a mechanic. It's quite logical, isn't it? You wouldn't dare to repair a car for everyone unless you are properly educated to do so, so why call yourself a photographer without having mastered the skills?
Of course, as an artist, it's not necessary to go through several years of training in order to get a title, but you should always aim to acquire the level of knowledge of a professional photographer before referring to yourself as one. Otherwise, use the term "amateur photographer". There is no shame in doing so. On the contrary, by incorporating the term "amateur", you attract a whole lot of more people that maybe want to work with you and support you for free.
Working for free
So you've mastered the basics, your first photos are quite respectable, and your surroundings have become aware of you and your camera. Grandma asks you to photograph her birthday, and your friends would like someone to record their wedding, the first hobby models you've met on Instagram are also regularly happy about new pictures and the buddy whose start-up company just got the promotional loan needs business portraits. Of course, you do all this for free, because it expands your portfolio.
But that's the beginning of problems that have destroyed an entire market in the past few years. Nobody's saying you can't take your friend's pictures for free. You should be aware, however, that photography is a service that must be given a certain value and that there is a whole professional group - namely the professional photographers - who have to make a living providing this service. People need to mind that.
Contrary to today's predominant something-for-nothing attitude, it should not be taken for granted that you offer your service as a photographer free of charge for everyone, even if you are not a professional photographer. You should clearly differentiate a friendly turn from where the fun ends. And if you don't want to start a business and become self-employed, then at least be fair enough to say "Please hire a professional for this job, they are dependent on paid assignments and not as expensive as you may think! Photography is a lot of work. I'm an amateur and only take pictures for fun."
Taking away other people's jobs
And that brings us directly to the next problem: Your hobby models sometimes give you a tenner, your friend with his business even offers you a hundred and, of course, you accept. Not only have you made yourself punishable for illegal employment, but you've taken a professionals job. Of course you are happy that someone pays you a bit of cash for your hobby. But as soon as the work has a commercial nature, i.e. your friend uses the photos for his advertising flyer, then you have lost a professional his potential customer.
"Thank you, but we have a buddy who does it for less" is one of the most common sentences that professional photographers, designers, service providers in general have to listen to when they ask why their offer was rejected.
Even if you're that buddy, you can imagine where this is going if you keep spinning the spiral. In the end, no one will benefit from it anymore and the same fate will befall you if you don't want to be the buddy forever, but want to be the service provider yourself at some point. As a beginner, you have the chance to contribute from the outset to ensuring that the market remains fruitful and interesting for everyone.
Hoping For Big Bucks
If you want to become a photographer in order to earn money, whether as a commercial photographer or as an artist, then you have to realize that the road is very difficult. The market is saturated with photographers, as you can see in social media. Hardly any photographer can make a good living from his work today; many even see a new entry as unattainable. Most of the photographers with whom we have talked would not take up the profession again for the reasons mentioned above. Of course, there are also exceptions, a few who made it. This is usually only possible with good relationships. In blogs and communities, you can find examples of how much a photographer has to calculate and earn in order to survive. This also takes into account costs which the layman often forgets. Rent, insurances, old age provision, artist social insurance, living expenses, etc. are also taken into account. You have to be able to earn 6,000 Euros a month to make a photographer?s life worthwhile and leave something behind. Do you dare to do that? Orders are scarce and the competition is great, especially the one that offers your services for free. This can quickly spoil your desire for photography. So if photography is your hobby and your passion, then you should keep it as such for yourself, and take a safer profession. Unless, of course, you have what it takes to be an exception and at some point take photos like no other! We wish you every success on your way there!
If you want to focus on the technical mistakes to avoid, here are some other interesting blogs and videos about beginner photography mistakes:
Why you are not a photographer
A DSLR does not make you a photographer. Here's how you should approach your career...
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Why a parabolic reflector is the best photographic light
Expensive and top of their class. Briese, Broncolor and other alternatives.
Understanding Aperture in Photography for beginners
A complete beginner's guide to aperture in photography lenses.