Common Photography Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Whether you’re a new or experienced photographer you’ll probably find yourself making no end of silly mistakes, especially if you’re learning. Here are some of the mistakes that you might make as a travel photographer and recommendations on how you can avoid them.

Your lens cap is on

Mistake: When travelling you see a great photo opportunity such as a really interesting scene, but on going to take the picture you realise your lens cap is on and you miss the opportunity.

How to avoid: While exploring have a lens hood on and leave the lens cap off. You can place your hand over the hood if you want to protect your lens. I would also recommend putting your hand over the lens and being more cautious around roads in case a stone gets thrown up. By having your lens cap off if you are careful you shouldn’t have any issues where the glass gets damaged.

You’re set to manual focus

Mistake: You take some photographs but on checking them realise they’re out of focus. This is something I have done quite a few times, as I often take night pictures in manual focus, but when I’m exploring during the day I will often have my camera set to autofocus.

How to avoid: Always check your lens and whether it’s set to manual or auto focus before heading out to shoot. Especially if you’d previously been taking night shots.

lens - manual and auto focus
Manual and auto focus button on a camera lens

Images are coming out too bright or too dark

Mistake: When reviewing a picture you realise that the image is either too bright or too dark. This may be because you’ve previously set exposure compensation and forget to reset it, or because the shooting mood is wrong for the scene. If you are shooting in manual mode then you should always ensure that your metering gauge is correct.

How to avoid: Consider shooting in a setting such as AV/A (aperture priority), as in this case the camera will automatically set the exposure setting. Also, remember to put any exposure compensation back to the default setting after a shoot. When shooting in manual mode, or in fact any mode the metering gauge should show the indicator in the middle to indicate correct exposure for the scene.

Your pictures are blurry

Mistake: Your pictures are coming out blurry.

How to avoid: If you are taking pictures of moving objects or action then you should have much fast shutter speeds than static objects. Also if you are shooting handled at night then you may find it hard to get a sharp shot without introducing lots of noise. If that is the case for you then use a tripod to take your low light shots. Check out my post on shutter speed to learn more.

You forgot your tripod

Mistake: You head out and have some great pictures opportunities such as at night, or of waterfalls/water during the day, but don’t have a tripod with you, resulting in having to do a fast exposure, or raising your ISO.

How to avoid: Determine what you will be shooting before you head out, and also if you will be returning to your accommodation before taking pictures at night. If you are taking pictures both during the day and at night then take a lightweight travel tripod with you for the entire duration.

Using a tripod at sunset and in low light
| Pixabay

You’ve got a full memory card

Mistake: You go to take a picture but get an error saying your memory card is full.

How to avoid: Always carry spare memory cards in your kit bag, but as well as this try and get into a routine of regularly transferring all your photographs to your computer and then formatting the memory card.

You’ve missed the “Golden Hour”

Mistake: You hope to get some awesome sunset or sunrise shots but by the time you arrive at a good spot the colour has gone.

How to avoid: Research online for the best Instagram and photography spots. You can alternatively try and find good locations on Google maps, ask locals, or even spend some time during the day to scout out the best spots to then come back to.

You’ve got a flat battery

Mistake: You arrive at a great photo location, start taking photographs then your battery warning light starts flashing. Before you know it your battery is flat and you can’t take any more shots.

How to avoid: Check your battery the night before to see if it needs charging, or take spares. If you are shooting in the winter you need to be aware that batteries can lose their charge extremely quick, so if you do have a spare put it in a warm inside pocket.


Most photography mistakes can be avoided by being a little more organised before your shoot, such as checking all your equipment, formatting your memory card and resetting all your settings to your favourite defaults. You may still make some mistakes but it’s all part of the learning and being a photographer.


Written by

Mike Clegg

Mike is a traveller, photographer, WordPress developer and the creator of He started this website so as to share his experiences and tips with travellers. He is from the UK and has travelled to many places around the world. He loves to shares his pictures and stories through Instagram and this website.

Read full bio | More articles by Mike

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