The 7 most common mistakes a beginner photographer makes when starting out


23 Aug 2023

Do you remember when you went from being an amateur photographer to taking the big leap and transforming your passion into a way to make a living as a professional photographer? If it has been a short time since you made this decision, this article where we are going to talk about the failures of a beginner photographer is going to be very useful for you. And if it’s been a long time since you took the step to become a professional photographer, we’re sure you’ll identify with many of these beginner mistakes.

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Discover the most typical mistakes of a beginner photographer and avoid them thanks to this guide.

Know the biggest failures of a beginner photographer

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Like any other profession, at the beginning of any professional career, it’s all trial and error. To help you avoid some of those typical stumbles, we have created a small guide with the 7 most common mistakes of a beginner photographer and at the end of this article you will find the recommendations of 3 great professionals in the world of photography.

1# Avoid your camera’s automatic mode

When you start with photography as a hobby, the automatic mode is a marvel, because with little knowledge the camera automatically selects a series of parameters, such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO sensitivity, etc. that will allow you to take more or less acceptable photographs.

The problem is when you want to stop being a mere amateur and turn this great hobby into your true vocation. When taking this step, you don’t have to rely on the parameters chosen by your camera. The important thing is that you know what each of them does and select the most appropriate values according to what you want your images to represent.

2# Don’t neglect training if you really want to be a professional photographer

Being self-taught is all very well but in the long run, if you really want to dedicate yourself to this, it is important that you train yourself in a more serious way to get the knowledge you need to master your camera, the rest of the elements you can use and the post-production process. If you don’t take this step seriously, you will never be able to make the leap and turn your hobby into your livelihood.

3# Learn, test and study post-production processes

Being a photographer is not only about taking good pictures, it is also important to know how to process them and to get the desired effect on the computer. That is why it is important that you set aside some of your time to learn how to use the editing programmes with all their options and that you are very aware of how to edit an image until you get the desired end result.

4# Planning is a photographer’s best ally

Especially when you are just starting out, planning is essential to achieve your goals little by little. Although you may be very creative and like to photograph in a more improvised way, if you really want to make money with this, it is important that you plan your first sessions in detail. Here are some recommendations:

  • If it is an outdoor session, know the environment very well, choose the most appropriate time and have a plan B in case it rains that day.
  • If it’s an indoor shoot, have all the sets, accessories and props ready and always have a few extras on hand in case of any mishaps during the shoot.
  • Leave all equipment ready with extra batteries, batteries and memory cards, especially if you will be working in an outdoor environment.
  • If it is a reportage with one of your first clients, have a chat with them beforehand to clarify the objectives and other details for the shoot.
  • Etc.

This type of planning will not only help you to go into your photo shoots with more confidence, but will also help you to make far fewer mistakes on those first photo shoots.

5# Trying new techniques and practising is the key to success

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Another of the failures of a beginner photographer is to only shoot what you like. If, for example, you love landscape photography, it is all very well to practice different techniques in this discipline, but remember that if you try other very different techniques, such as portrait or wildlife photography in movement, you can transfer the good results to the type of photography that you really like to do.

Our advice is to try a lot, especially in the beginning, and don’t close yourself to any style until you have found your own.

6# Being a photographer is not a solitary career

Although the profession of photography may seem very lonely, the truth is that it doesn’t have to be. Especially at the beginning when you are starting out and making your first reportages. At this stage, meeting other more experienced colleagues who have already been through this process can be of great benefit to you. That’s why it’s important that you participate in groups, forums and attend workshops and photography events. Not only to learn, but also to make new friends and learn from the greats.

At Arcadina we support many photographers and photographic associations that give courses and organise talks on different topics related to photography. You can follow all our sponsorships through Instagram.

7# Don’t procrastinate on setting up a digital photography business


And to conclude this beginner photographer’s guide to failure, it is important that you consider setting up your digital business before you even open your physical photography studio. This is a much more economical and functional way to validate if your business can get off the ground.

Think that if you create a photography website and add valuable content, Google will gradually improve your positioning and thanks to your digital business you will be able to sell your first photographs and offer your clients a professional space in which to view, download, select and buy the images of your first photographic reports.

If you still don’t know our exclusive business solutions for photographers we encourage you to try them for 14 days for free, you will be surprised by all the options we have for you.

Recommendations of top photographers from Arcadina

Next, we are going to share with you a series of recommendations given to us by a series of photographers with a long professional career and who also trust in Arcadina.

Foto Arte Carlos Felipe: artistic wedding reportages


Carlos Felipe, as well as being one of our ambassadors for Arcadina, is a renowned wedding photographer in Almeria with a very particular style that has won him countless awards and recognitions.

Carlos tells us that rather than highlighting the faults of a beginner photographer, he wants to highlight a series of tips based on his own personal experiences so that the beginnings of his colleagues are as successful as possible.

Carlos Felipe Ortiz’s recommendations

  • “Don’t get obsessed with changing equipment every few months. Find a camera you’re comfortable with and get the most out of it.
  • “Don’t think you know everything about your profession as a photographer”. Training is essential for you to move forward.
  • “Don’t train only with photographers of your own style”. If you want to grow, discover other styles to create your own.
  • “Learn to be an entrepreneur. Spend time learning how to be an entrepreneur, manage and grow your business.
  • “Keep your website, business and networks up to date“. Your customers are going to look for you online and it is important that you keep these channels up to date.
  • “Evaluate if you need a study and if it is not essential, invest in your online business”. Invest part of the capital in improving your website, networks and ads.
  • “Do market research to set prices that don’t break the market“. Don’t set prices too low or offer extra services for free. This will end up hurting the whole sector in the long run.
  • “Avoid imitating your reference photographers”. It’s all very well having a photographer to look up to, but it’s important to find your own style and not copy their method.
  • “Be original and break away from fashions. Don’t focus too much on the fads or trends of the moment so that when they become obsolete, your brand identity remains intact.
  • “Don’t lose your creativity. Keep alive the bug and the desire to try new things that you have when you are just starting out.
  • “Offer the client a selection of the 300 best photos of their wedding rather than 5,000 ordinary images”. Give value to your work and explain to your clients that this job can’t be done by just anyone.

Maru Serra: boudoir photography


Maru Serra defines herself as a passionate photographer. Maru works as a boudoir and children’s photographer in Valencia and has also created a series of courses, training and workshops specifically for photographers. Maru is another of our Arcadina ambassador photographers and she also wanted to contribute with her experience telling us about the possible mistakes that a photographer who is just starting out should avoid.

Maru Serra’s international online school: Boudoir photography course: “a world of light”. Children and communion photography course: “a world of light”.

Maru tells us that she was very lucky in her beginnings because a great photographer whom she admired was able to guide her in her early days. Despite this great help, Maru also remembers her great discipline (which she still has) when working and learning this profession.

Maru Serra’s recommendations

  • “Look for a reference photographer to follow”. Especially at the beginning, it is very interesting to look for a photographer you admire and who has achieved his or her goals.
  • “Without a good foundation and training, it is difficult to launch a successful career”. Training is essential for a photographer, both at the beginning and to update oneself after years in the profession.
  • “Follow photographers who inspire you and learn from them”. Even if you have a photographer you admire, it also helps to know and analyse the work of your peers.
  • “Believe in yourself and in being able to carry out great projects”. As well as thinking positive thoughts, be willing to face every project and every inconvenience that arises with energy. The only one who will prevent you from achieving your goals will be yourself.
  • “Inspiration and improvement will always be outside your comfort zone“. If you want to move forward, you have to do different tasks, and sometimes you will feel dizzy to carry them out. This is the only way. If you are brave and persistent you will achieve great challenges.
  • “Avoid comparing yourself with others, learn to value yourself, and be clear about what you want and are willing to sacrifice“.
  • “Let’s think about our positive aspects instead of looking for what we lack, and let’s concentrate on our strengths, always surrounding ourselves with people who love us.”
  • “We must be unique and think that no one is perfect, but that each person is unique in the world“.
  • “To be generous with others, and to accept, in order to be authentic, that we all need each other and that prosperity does not consist in having achievements that others achieve, but in understanding that the important thing is to develop in ourselves the gift of transforming into value everything that we do with passion and love“.

Carlos Reina: sports sessions


Carlos Reina is a photographer and videographer who specialises in sports, commercial and event reportage and is currently based in Cumbria (UK).

Carlos, whom we already had the pleasure of interviewing, told us that he thought it was very interesting to focus this article on the mistakes that a photographer who is just starting out should avoid, differentiating on the one hand the most common “stumbles” that most of his colleagues make in their beginnings, and on the other hand also explaining his own.

Carlos Reina’s recommendations

  • “Don’t think that spending a fortune on great equipment will make you a better photographer. Using quality equipment is important but it is not everything. Good photos don’t come from good cameras but from great photographers.
  • “Never use the automatic mode of your camera“. While this may seem obvious, it is not so obvious to photographers just starting out. Research your camera, learn how to use all the features, and above all: practice, practice, practice.
  • Ask for criticism of your images.” Whether they are constructive or somewhat destructive. You will always learn something from a colleague’s opinion. And above all, never think that your images are the best (they can always be improved, especially at the beginning).
  • “Never work for free (unless you want to)”. Sometimes in this profession we are undervalued and many times you will meet people who want you to do a photo shoot for nothing. Value your time and only work “for free” if you see that it will bring you some kind of benefit (even if it is not financial).
  • “Look for inspiration everywhere. Whether it’s by visiting photography websites, social media or even classical painting. But always without copying.

Don’t make the mistakes of a beginner photographer thanks to these 7 tips

When you are an experienced beginner photographer’s faults may be obvious, but when you are starting out it doesn’t have to be so obvious. That’s why it’s important to seek out information about what you like, rely on your peers and never stop training.

As you can see, many of our fellow photographers agree with some of the recommendations we have given you in this article. The important thing is that you follow your own path, that you try to improve more and more in your work with quality training, and that, above all, you never lose the enthusiasm of these first years as a professional photographer.

Today we would like to share with you the testimony of Miguel Ángel Garrote.

>> ‘Arcadina Labs is a good choice and saves time’, Miguel Ángel Garrote

And finally, we would like to know what mistakes you remember making when you started out as a photographer. We’d love to read your answers in the comments.

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Headache for your photography business? Take an Arcadina

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