This is a special guest-post from a new friend of mine, Antoine Khater. Check the bottom of this post for his bio, and don’t forget to visit his photography blog!

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I have been taking pictures seriously for about 5 years and been around major photography forums for about the same time. Here are, compiled in one post, the 7 bad habits of digital photographers…

1. NOT DOUBLE CHECKING YOUR GEAR BAG

It never happened to you? It sure did to me! I can’t remember how many times I went shooting just to notice later on that I forgot the CF cards at home. Just a few months ago my wife and I took a photography trip to Croatia and I totally forgot to pack the battery charger with me! So if you are as clumsy as I am, maybe you should trust your wife in packing things up for you.

2. NOT DOUBLE CHECKING ISO SETTINGS

This is surely one of the most common post subjects you will find if you linger long enough in Digital Photography forums. We are all somehow used to reaching for our ISO settings button just when we need to go “higher” and we too often take it for granted that the camera is set to the “correct” one every time we take it from the bag. And that is why so many people are asking for the ISO setting to be displayed in the viewfinder, until then and to avoid surprises, good or bad, make sure to double check that ISO setting every time you turn your camera on.

3. I’LL GET THIS STRAIGHT LATER

Let me first say that I have nothing against Photoshop or any other kind of photo retouching I even pointed out some times ago an easy way to correct tilted pictures in the digital dark room. However I believe that if you can get it right on the field it is better. So if you have the bad habit of tilting your pictures, here are 6 tips that will hep you get them straight next time.

4. I SHOOT RAW, I DON’T CARE ABOUT EXPOSURE

RAW is wonderful tool and gives us, photographers, a great deal of flexibility during post processing. The ability to tweak the exposure in RAW should be used ONLY within limits — blown highlights and and underexposed shadows can’t be recovered. So make sure to always get the exposure right.

5. DELETING PICTURES TOO FAST

Well I’m writing this specially for myself! I delete pictures faster than I take them sometimes… Here is a recent article from LightChasers explaining why we should never be doing this.

6. BETTER BODY INSTEAD OF BETTER LENS

I guess it is just a human nature but every time a new camera is released we have all tendency to become green with envy and deep down we should know that we would be much better investing in a better lens than in a better camera.

7. BLAMING THE MATERIAL

And, of course, on the TOP of the list “Blaming the material”! When we do not manage of getting a decent picture we go like “AH if only I had that lens!” but if someone looks at a nice pictures of ours and says “Wow you should have a nice camera!!!” We go crazy… Anyway, remember folks, it is always the photographer never the Camera.

Again, I’d like to thank Antoine for this wonderful guest-post he’s written for us, and remember to check out his website: All Day I Dream About Photography.
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thanks alot for that post. very good reminders.

December 27, 2007 7:04 pm

So very true – can I add #8? Remember the 7 bad habits! :)

December 27, 2007 7:20 pm

Very good reminders. Especially #5.

Many times I find my best images while going back through my archive weeks later.

December 27, 2007 9:15 pm

The one with the ISO is my most usual mistake.

December 28, 2007 4:02 am

Same here, but I’m getting better about it.

December 28, 2007 4:12 am

For me point 1 is easy as I still have everything in one bag. When I get more gear over the years this might change though. Number two is something I hve done several times already. I should just make it a habit to check my ISO before taking a picture…

December 28, 2007 7:45 am

Forgetting to charge up batteries as well! ;)

December 28, 2007 11:24 am

I’ve gotten over all these bad habits. The lenses are a killer though: I’ve spent over four times as much money on lenses as on the camera. The bills for L series glass add up quick.

December 28, 2007 2:06 pm

Great set of reminders. I’ve been guilty of not checking my ISO when i transition from an event that’s indoors to oudoors… then summarily pounding my head into a pillar at the realization of how many blown out shots I had >_>

December 28, 2007 2:16 pm

#1 just gets worse the more bags you get. “Crap, I left that in my landscape bag!”. I’ve starting with sub bag groupings. Grab the filter kit, the flash card folio, … Every bag has a body cloth and a lens cloth.

Change #2 to a more general “Check your settings”. For me this would be remember when you take off the flash extender that the flash zoom is on manual.

#8 Remember to lock the ballhead before you let go.

#9 Bring lots of batteries. Twice as many as you think you need.

#10 Remember all of the non photographic equipment: suntan lotion, bug spray, gloves, …

December 28, 2007 2:19 pm

#’s 3 and 4 are practically gospel in the studios that I work.

I hate when people say we can just fix that in Photoshop. If we can shoot it right the first time, just do it.

And don’t get me started on RAW, I’m amazed at how badly peoples photos come out because they think RAW it he end all solution for not learning how to properly meter and expose your images.

December 28, 2007 2:30 pm

I think chimping is a pretty bad habit.

December 28, 2007 2:40 pm

number four … shooting raw …
had a conversation about shooting raw earlier today …
some claim that its a waste of space on the memory card …
hehe … but i think (slow writing speeds apart) … its a good tool …
thanks for pointers … appreciated …

December 28, 2007 2:43 pm

uhm…how about flashing every picture, then try fixing it in ps.

December 28, 2007 2:44 pm

Actually when I was reading the reminders I was thinking ‘yea, that’s just you’ all the time. None of that stuff ever happens to me. Maybe you should change the title to “7 reminders for clumsy people” :-P

December 28, 2007 2:59 pm

It depends on what camera you own I guess. Previously I used a Fuji S9500 (S9100 in the US I believe?). One RAW file took 8 seconds to write away. My current 400D (digital Rebel XTi in the US) will only stop firing after the bufer is full with 11 RAW pictures, which I think is not really a limitation for me… :-)

December 28, 2007 3:03 pm

i really agree on the iso part. i cannot tell you how many times i’ve happily snapped away and only find out much later that i was on the wrong iso setting :( :( :(

December 28, 2007 3:32 pm

good tips, but this should be 7 Bad Habits of *Beginner* Digital Photographers. i was expecting some real photography tips. excuse my trolling :)

December 28, 2007 3:34 pm

Tip #5, I’ve been burned in the past with an itchy delete finger… good article !

December 28, 2007 3:46 pm

Great article!

I’ve been bitten by #1 both for photography and mobile sound recording, so for me now the only thing that lets me sleep at night is having a checklist (an actual physical piece of paper!) of what I need to carry

December 28, 2007 3:52 pm

Why is “Blaming the Material” at the top of the list, yet you list it last…at the bottom of the list?

December 28, 2007 5:03 pm

Using a digital camera.

December 28, 2007 5:09 pm

This sounds like me. Just recently I was shooting my 1st & last wedding for a good friend and I left my CF cards at home. Not checking my gear like I should of cost me some shots, but luckily my wife brought her cards.

I always try to blame the material when it does not turn out the way I wanted. We always try to blame something else than ourselves.

December 28, 2007 5:47 pm

Great tip… once or twice I may have forgot to check my kit.. but thats a mistake you only make once hopefully ;)

December 28, 2007 6:11 pm

Wow, the first time I screwed up important pictures was my sister’s wedding, when I somehow changed the shutter speed (by accident) which, along with the flash sync, caused 1/2 of the pictures to be fine, but the other half to be perfectly dark. Most of the wedding shots showed my sister perfectly, her husband was not visible. They divorsed some years later, saved me from having to “cut him out” of the pictures ;>)

Seriously, ever since then I check the shutter settings after each shot, this way I can re-shoot if I somehow changed a setting without realizing it.

December 28, 2007 9:57 pm

The problem is that we are used to just shoot pictures with our digital cameras in Auto mode.. and we think that because we have the best camera in the block, we will get the best picture…. The reality is that a photographer is much more than a fancy and expensive camera…….

December 28, 2007 10:32 pm

Great stuff, I am guilty of all of them! I think 7 should be taken lightly, I have taken bad pictures because my lens was too slow, or because the aperture range was not wide enough. Also, some lenses are too soft on the long end, or have an intrinsic slow focusing…you may have the right exposure, the right angle and the right ISO settings, but be failed by the inability of the lens to handle the situation (it vindicates point 6)

December 29, 2007 6:31 am

Duh! What was the intent of this article? Anyone that can read an intro photo book should know these tings, are you a neophyte with an epiphany? What about the biggest error: Not getting up close to your subjects???

December 29, 2007 7:41 am

How is not getting up close to your subjects a bad habit?

Personally, I think the worst bad habit of digital photographers is trolling in forums and blog comments.

December 29, 2007 10:29 am

Yes, FLASH every picture. It is amazing the results you can get ven when you do not think about it.
Thanks so much.

December 29, 2007 12:10 pm

hahhah so true, although i’ve never forgot anything i know how it looks when your blaming the gear for a bad pic…i must have said a thousand times “i wish i had that lens or omg i cant belive im writing this filter”

lol i know i know it’s crazy but vanity is a wonderful thing

cheers mate

December 29, 2007 4:31 pm

I forget to check my white balance.

December 29, 2007 11:56 pm

I too would change #2 to a Pre-Flight check. I always check ISO, WB, exp/flash compensation, image settings, etc. Guess it would just be simpler to never change any of that, but the real world just doesn’t work like that!

-=[ Karl ]=-
http://www.TeachMeToShoot.com

December 30, 2007 12:51 am

soemtimes the lens is a bad option…
I have boght a new temron 18-200 lens ,i think to return it back or boy a new 70-200

December 30, 2007 10:08 am

and also chnging settings accordingly : last week i was shoting young basketers, i had to more than 3 times change the ISO settings and WB settings

December 30, 2007 10:11 am

#6 is my problem! I always buy the latest camera body and then am too cheap to invest in good “glass” (lenses)

December 30, 2007 12:26 pm

Back in the time where camera bodies were simply light-tight boxes you stored your film in, I would absolutely agree that nice, new lenses trump nice, new SLR bodies.

That’s no longer the case. A new generation camera body is a new generation of image capture technology – the reson to run out and buy the latest and greatest isn’t to get a new auto-exposure bell or AF whistle, it’s to dramatically improve the quality of the image being captured with the imager (the system comprised of the capture chip and the image processor). In the digital age, you’re essentially buying your film when you buy your camera body, and going from Ektachrome 100 to Provia F is worth the extra grand.

So, realistically, you need to balance both. Crappy lenses look especially crappy with nice imagers, and a crummy imaging system brings even the priciest glass down to its level.

December 31, 2007 2:24 am

I am *extremely* guilty of number three. It’s getting to the point that I might return to the workflow I had when I started working with a DSLR: I completely removed the cropping/straightening step. I’d allow myself colour correction, exposure, and sharpening but any alterations to the original composition were strictly off the table.

In some cases it worked well, but I’m notorious for having tilt-neck. I can’t tell straight to save my life.

December 31, 2007 3:07 pm

Guilty of most of it … except I really like good lenses.

January 7, 2008 7:28 pm

Great post.
I’m guilty of #2.
Numbers 3 and 4 are big pet peeves of mine.

January 20, 2008 7:15 pm

Point No 4 misses the mark by some distance: “So make sure to always get the exposure right.”

What IS the right exposure with digital? It’s not the same as with film. And what part does software play in exposure?

http://thewhatandwhy.slashedcanvas.co.uk/2007/12/31/exposure-reduction-for-highlight-retention/

http://thewhatandwhy.slashedcanvas.co.uk/2007/12/29/digital-exposure-noise/

http://thewhatandwhy.slashedcanvas.co.uk/2007/12/16/when-blocked-up-shadows-aren%e2%80%99t-really/

January 31, 2008 8:44 am

Pt. 1: I can relate to that. The biggest is taking the batter and batter charger out and forgetting to put the battery or charger back in the bag. The charger is just as crucial to me as I regular shoot all or multi-day events and need to charge. Forgetting cards is another easy one, leaving in the desktop at home.

Pt. 2: As a concert photographer, this happens all the time, as I go from shooting at iso1600 the night before and next day start shooting an outside event, taken a bunch of snaps and then seeing everything blown out like crazy.

Pt. 5: I find the problem is photographers posting too many pics, not being ruthless in weeding out mediocre and bad pics. I constantly see people posting and proudly doing so, pics that would not meet my quality control.

February 6, 2008 9:31 pm

I have fallen victim to most of these offenses. I made a simple checklist and try to put everything back in it’s proper place when done. Forgot my extra set of flash batteries for a corporate event awhile back. Luckily there was a store nearby for a battery run.

February 13, 2008 12:51 am

#8 has to be “chimping instead of looking at the subject.” See page 68 of Joe McNally’s book, The Moment it Clicks. As Joe says, “You can miss a lot of moments with your head stuck in your LCD. Checking what just went on is a surefire ticket to missing what’s about to go on.”

February 18, 2008 10:22 am

Very good reminders. Thanks.

February 19, 2008 6:43 am

Regarding #2, forgetting to set ISO, Nikon’s autoISO feature on new D3 and D300 is the solution. Once you set ISO range saying 100 min & 25,600 max (only Nikon D3 could offer that high), you never have to worry about ISO no more. Is that cool? I wish the next DSLR from Canon will have this feature.

March 12, 2008 4:57 pm


Nice list. #1 is the most useful.

April 13, 2008 6:07 am


it has happened to me … and it was so embarassed to forget your battery just like that, right ? ^_^

April 27, 2008 2:28 pm


I like number four the best. Then there is the, “don’t worry, I will photoshop it”.

June 23, 2008 8:29 pm

Oh, I sure have lost many shots from deleting them too fast.

June 25, 2008 8:28 am

Your number 7 rule here was king when i taught electric guitar to students when i was in college for extra pocket money.

You have no idea how many times i heard “if I only has a les paul standard/studio/custom then I would be able to play properly”

Never mind that their $300 guitar sounded fine and produced notes just as accurately as a $4,000 les paul gold top.

No matter what art whether drawing, music, photography, painting, or sculpture, a true artist will make art with whatever he/she has at their disposal.

August 8, 2008 11:56 am

I am a novice photographer in Houston Texas, and I had question about your number 6. Aren’t better lenses often more expensive than a better camera? I wonder where the diminishing return would be between the two. Anyhow great post, thanks!

August 12, 2008 3:45 am

Guilty.

August 18, 2008 8:43 am

guilty of all 7, also guilty of leaving the lens cap on.

August 18, 2008 2:20 pm

Number 3.only applies to a photo you intended to have straight. A great way to spot a good photographer is a great eye for “tilt” and angles. I often add tilt in photoshop the create a more dramatis photo.

September 11, 2008 7:03 pm

Number 4 is some unkosher photo…. Made me remember my Italian family members :)

September 25, 2008 12:53 pm

I think I’ve made all of those mistakes.
* Forgot battery chargers, even THE BATTERIES leaving late for a wedding
* The wrong settings affects 30% of my pics.
* Adobe Lightroom is my best exposure compensator (BTW I think this software is great, you should give it a try)
* And of course BLAMING THE MATERIAL. “My camera is kind of old”, “I need a bigger flash”… You are right: It is always the photographer never the Camera.

Thank for sharing this with us, and thanks for let me post in your blog.

September 25, 2008 7:27 pm

Thanks a load im going to try and avoid those perils as i begin

November 10, 2008 5:47 pm

Trigger happy shooting and staring at the view screen every 3 seconds should be added. I have yet to understand this? Don’t release the shutter if it doesn’t look good in the viewfinder!

My own blunder is accidently changing the +/- compensation on the body!

Cheers
Cambridge Photography

December 30, 2008 10:28 am

I just got my wife a new digital camera for Christmas. I am forwarding your post to her as I think you raise a number of valid points, especiially the one about ISO settings. The new camera has like a dozen settings that she needed to play with to make her photos look somewhat OK. Thanks for this information.

December 31, 2008 6:34 pm

Lately, I have been shooting with a better lens and I tell you it sure makes a difference. Many friends are all getting the new Canon 5D Mark II thinking this will make all the difference but they don’t know how half the camera they have now works. Something to think about.

January 3, 2009 8:15 pm

I used to wonder how trolls found time to annoy people who actually care, and then I realized, they take time other people would use shooting, and use it criticizing.

There are three things that set great photographers apart from the rest of us.

1. They make a LOT of mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone forgets simple things. Any troll who claims not to is lying. It’s human. Since the greats shoot a lot more than most people, they make more mistakes. A written checklist, like this one, helps; this has been proven time and time again in many fields.

2. Pros don’t disparage any equipment. Real pros, the ones who make their living at this, may not choose to use digital or whatever, but they don’t criticize it, because they know that it’s not the medium, it’s the person behind the lens.

3. The greats don’t have to resort to personal insults, because they know (unlike trolls) that their images speak for themselves.

As for trigger-happy shooting, I shoot a lot, and I get a lot of surprising images. NOT shooting enough is a bigger mistake than shooting too much when the shots you don’t keep cost nothing. Being afraid to make a mistake is a mistake in itself.

January 12, 2009 7:02 pm

I love the insights you’ve brought to the discussion! I’ve always felt that there are two good ways to learn: make mistakes or teach… haha, bonus points if you make a mistake while teaching — you’ll be guaranteed to never make that mistake again!

January 12, 2009 8:47 pm

#1 has gotten me a couple of times. Thinking certain cards, or a certain filter being in the bag your carrying, only to find out its in the other bag thats at home…

January 18, 2009 9:05 am

Nice list… I am sending this link over to my gf as she is big into photography and she will like this.

January 25, 2009 1:08 pm

Definitely some great tips. I am guilty of a number of these bad habits myself. I always tend to go straight to photoshop to straighten crooked images and forget that it should only be a safety net in case such things happen.

February 9, 2009 6:21 pm

heh my problem is over flashing each picture and then trying to fix it in Photoshop. I need to learn to take my time more, saving myself time and quality later.

February 12, 2009 11:42 pm

"we would be much better investing in a better lens than in a better camera."

Is it right? I though that better camera will make better pics.
Is the lens affect so much on picture quality so that ?

February 17, 2009 11:14 pm

I’ve forgotten equipment so many times, I cant stress #1 more. I’ve got to some remote areas before checking the bag only to discover that I had forgot a critical piece of gear.

February 18, 2009 1:10 am

I think that the better body instead of better lens is one of the most common mistakes. Forgetting equipment is also a common one. At least it happens to me often.

February 18, 2009 10:44 am

A not so looked into mistake is "Deleting your pictures too quickly".. but it surely is an interesting point there. A very good photo could be lost that way, simply because you did not have enough patience to check it out on a proper display.
Anyway, great tips to consider (all 7).

March 3, 2009 4:50 am

One fatal mistake I’ve made in the past is not preparing for the weather.

I’ve been in many situations where the weather played a part in the success or failure of a photo or video shoot. Protecting your camera in adverse conditions and bringing the proper filters is a must as well.

Never assume mother nature will cooperate, she’ll surprise you when you least expect it!

March 15, 2009 1:25 pm

Most very often amateur and sometimes professional photographers go through these mistakes, and being aware of them as this post gives us an impulse on this category, is very helpful to getting great pointers as to avoid such and such in photography.

April 3, 2009 8:36 pm

After reading all the posts, I feel much better. I thought I was the only one with fumbly fingers and forgetfulness.

April 3, 2009 9:39 pm

I’ve made most, if not all of these mistakes. My wife and I share our camera, and she just wants to point and shoot so we’re always having to undo each others settings. I’m hoping to upgrade to a Nikon D700 next Spring so she can have the D50…at least that’ll solve one issue!

April 23, 2009 3:00 pm

This article speaks volumes of truth, slow down and take time over your shot, also prepare your camera for the type of shot you are taking. You will be amazed at the improvement in your photography

April 26, 2009 5:27 am

Yeah, deleting pictures too fast is a habit probably everyone has. You just go through the batch of pics and delete every one you don’t like. And suddenly you’re left with no pics and you’re pissed. But it’s usualy too late at that point.

May 7, 2009 12:11 am

I’m so glad my newer cameras have the ISO displayed in the viewfinder, it saves me from #2 frequently. Also, saving me from #1 is a Pelican case that is setup for all my critical gear. If something is missing it is obvious.

May 11, 2009 12:15 pm

I agree that wrong ISO setting can really ruin the picture. Regarding lenses, there are some primes that are relatively cheap, but can help to create a great pictures. Even on tight budget I would recommend to buy at least 50mm prime lens.

June 4, 2009 7:34 pm

Ya, the camera settings have been an issue for me many a time, especially with so many new cameras coming out all the time, I just learn how to use one, then ditch it for a new one.

July 26, 2009 9:11 am

Absolutely agree with this conception: if you have some extra money to upgrade your equipment, buy a better lens, not a better camera.

September 9, 2009 8:51 pm



Thanks for the tips… it’s hard when there is so much accompanying equipment to bring with you nowadays – finding yourself out with low to flat batteries is a killer… also not bringing the correct adapter to be able to plug-in a charger when abroad is another one!

January 5, 2010 8:25 am

Number 3 is the best. I love this post. amazing.

January 26, 2010 5:31 am

As an older photographer, All I ever need is the right lighting, aperture, f/stop and film speed and
a good eye along with any camera or lens. Today we have beginners with cameras that requires a Phd to turn it on, shoot, and, then still need photoshop, for a picture not worth shooting in the first place. No wonder you forget things and make mistakes. Develope your eye first, learn to see. then you will know what you need. Keep it simple.

February 8, 2010 7:36 pm

May I suggest # 8 – The act of “chimping” or checking shots in the screen too often. I was guilty of this until I realized I was missing good shots while staring at the back of the camera.

March 24, 2010 3:41 pm

this amused me greatly…….I can forget with the best of them, usually try and take as little as possible due to a friend of mine, a real photographer, who said ‘david, it doesn’t matter how much money you spend on photographic equipment it won’t improve the quality of the pictures you make’…….thanks for that!! cheers david.

March 29, 2010 2:10 am

hahahha Sooo True.. happens all the time!!! :P

June 1, 2010 4:39 pm

Not checking the ISO settings is criminal… I ALWAYS set mine to AUTO at the end of every shoot.

February 4, 2011 7:09 am

Comment now!