5 Bad Habits to Stop Now to Become a Better Photographer

There are two absolutes in photography – there will always be another piece of equipment you will want to buy, and you will always look for ways to improve your photography skills. While I can’t help with the first, there are a few bad habits to break that can immediately help with the latter.

Take it out of Auto Everything

The improvements in camera technology continues in leaps and bounds. And while the added functionality helps make it easier to create great images, it can also make us lazier as photographers.

Auto focus

Taking the camera out of Auto –auto white balance, auto focus, auto exposure (Av or Tv), auto bracketing, etc. – forces you to slow down and think about every aspect of the image you are creating. And when you think about all the aspects that go into making images you can better control the creative aspects each one represents.

Stop handholding

Unless you are shooting under ideal lighting conditions, get yourself out of the habit of handholding the camera. Even those of us with a steady hand will inevitably introduce some camera shake into the final image. When feasible, shoot using a sturdy tripod.

This is a critical piece of equipment when shooting long exposures – from blur of water to great star trail, or essential to use when shooting video – but it will also greatly improve the overall quality of your images.

In situations where it is impractical to use a tripod, try a monopod. While not great for long exposures it will provide enough stability for most shots. Don’t have or can’t use a monopod? Try using bean bags on stable surfaces – or propping your arm up for added support.

Sunflower blooms in field against blue skies in early morning

Change your perspective

A snapshot is created by capturing what is in front of you, a photograph is made when you decide how to represent your environment. Instead of taking the image standing up, looking straight ahead, force yourself to look for a new way to shoot the same subject. From below, from above, from behind, through other objects. The perspective is limited by only your imagination. So take a moment to look at all the creative ways you can shoot your next subject.

Steel train bridge

Find your focal point

Every great image will draw the viewer to the subject of the image – known as the focal point. As stock photographers, our go to standard focal point technique is the Rule of 3rds. And while you can’t argue with the efficacy of this method, it rarely is the most creative one to use. Challenge yourself to mix in some of the other techniques in your next photo shoot – Relative Size, Relative Distance, Selective Focus, Selective Lighting, Repetition, Converging or Leading Lines, Select Color, Reflection, Framing or Motion.

Add to the available light

Try adding additional light sources for impact if you are use to shooting only in available light. A reflector can fill in dark areas. Fill lights can bring out shadows. Hot spots can help to more evenly illuminate a scene. Strobes can cause the subject to pop out of the surrounding background. Photography is often called painting with light, so add some new brushes to your pallet of tools.

Try breaking one or more of these bad habits to see if you notice a marked improvement in your skill sets. Who knows, you may earn enough additional income to splurge for some of that equipment on your wish list.

Photo credits: Heather Kaftan, Bizoon, Karen Foley.

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July 29, 2018


Great article! #1and #2 go hand in hand - auto functions are meant to take an acceptable photo as fast as possible. Once you exit those auto settings to get a better than acceptable image (especially locking down the ISO), your exposure time goes up and the chances of a crisp hand held photo become next to impossible...

July 27, 2018


Thank you.

July 25, 2018


Thanks for sharing!!

July 17, 2018


Very helpful blog. Thanx for sharing.

July 14, 2018


Thank you for these advices, they are very useful.

July 14, 2018


Useful tips Karen, I am particularly guilty of not using the tripod often enough.

July 11, 2018


great blog. thanks for sharing.

July 10, 2018


Good advises. Thank You!

July 10, 2018


Thanks for sharing, very interesting.

July 10, 2018


Great blog!

July 10, 2018


Thank you for sharing! Need to know!

July 09, 2018



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