When I got my first SLR a few years ago, I was so excited that I immediately took it out to shoot pictures. Of course, being a complete beginners with absolutely no photography training, the pictures I took were far from being “good.” As I accumulate experience shooting photos and learn more tips and tricks of photography, I began to see what I, and many other beginners, did wrong. I often review my photos, list all the mistakes I think I’ve made, and ask myself how will I approach the same subjects the next time. I also did some research to see what other photographers think are mistakes common among beginners, and narrowed the list down to three mistakes that are most common among photographers and non-photographers alike, so even if you are not aspired to become a photographer you can still impress your friends with your photos.

Mistake #1: Blurry Photos
Little DoraThere are two types of blur in photography: camera blur and motion blur. Camera blur is caused by the settings on your camera. You may focus your lens on one object of certain distance away, then switch to a different object further or closer to you without readjusting your lens. It is also possible that your depth of field is not deep enough to completely cover your subjects if they are not of the same distance away from the camera.

The other type of blur, the motion blur, is caused by any movements captured by the camera. When you shoot in full-auto, aperture priority mode, you camera will keep the aperture constant while adjusting exposure time to ensure enough light is passing through the lens. If the exposure time is set too long, any movements you make, no matter how small it is, will nonetheless affect the sharpness of your photos. To avoid having too long an exposure time, try shooting in manual mode and set the exposure time inversely proportional to the focus length. For example, if your focus length is 50mm, make sure your exposure time is less than 1/50 second.

Mistake #2: Unclear Main Subjects
Getting DarkAnother common mistake beginners make is that the main subjects are not prominently featured. It could be that there are too many competing elements in the photo that draw viewers’ attention away, or there’s simply no main subject that viewers can recognize. To mitigate this issue, try to adopt a minimalist approach and keep your photos as simple as possible until you are confident that you know how to direct viewers’ attention using composition. You may also edit your photos to make the main subject stand out among all the elements in the frame.

Mistake #3: Not Close Enough
Calling the GameThis is perhaps the one mistake that a lot of people are not even aware of, and that is why I’m saving it for last. I did not even realize I was doing this until two years after getting my DSLR, and to this day I still have to constantly remind myself to get closer to my subjects and fill the frame as much as possible. There are also situations where either we are not allowed to get as close as we’d like, or there’s simply not enough time to move across the distance to get close enough. If you anticipate that to be the case for you, consider using a zoom lens that adequately covers the focal length you want to shoot in.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, more mistakes that photographers make, but these three are by far the most common I’ve seen among beginners. Once you have learned how to avoid them, you will see enormous improvement in your photography. If you have any questions or want to share your experience, feel free to leave comments below.