10 Mistakes Beginner Photographers Make

Let’s face it, photography is tough… especially when you are first starting out. Honestly, there is quite a few mistakes beginner photographers make, and I think they are important to talk about.

So, let’s do just that!

Here are 10 mistakes that beginner photographer’s make.


1. NOT having a solid backup plan

If you are shooting a wedding, you absolutely NEED to have a solid backup process.

First, you must be shooting with a camera with dual card slots. If, for some reason, your card corrupts, you have an immediate backup so you don’t lose someone’s whole wedding day. That is a nightmare that you want to avoid at all costs.

Second, make sure you are backup up to at MINIMUM, three sources. Two of those should be physical hard drives. The last you can get away with a Cloud source. The reasoning behind this is that in the case of a fire or something happening to your hard drives, the cloud service will save your life and your sanity.

You should back up your footage IMMEDIATELY after getting home from your wedding. If this isn’t feasible, no later than the following morning. I get it, sometimes you feel like you’re too delirious to be uploading important content. However, don’t push it longer than you need to.

I offload my footage onto a LaCie drive and then back that folder up to my NAS system (OWC Thunderbolt). From there, I use Backblaze and Dropbox for cloud storage.

Last, but definitely not least, NEVER leave your files in your car without having them backed up somewhere. Imagine someone stealing your gear and hard drives before you have had the change to back them up. What are you going to tell your couple?

2. NOT cooperating with the videographer

On a wedding day, both the photographer and videographer should have equal value. This means that the videographer should also get time to direct the couple. Don’t just leave them in the dust and forget they are there. Reach out to them before the wedding to learn about what they might need.

Remember that you are working for the couple… NOT YOUR PORTFOLIO. They hired the videographer and likely spent good money doing so. Don’t be that photographer that takes over the whole day and doesn’t let the videographer have their time to shine as well.

As a videographer and a photographer, the best way that I have some practice with this. The best way that I have found is to play off each other. Ask before moving onto something else if the videographer captured everything they needed.

It really is that easy!

Also, please don’t be that person and shoot with flash all day when it isn’t needed. It really interrupts the video and makes the shots virtually unusable. Don’t take a million photos during things like the letter reading and such. These moments are really important for the videographer to capture clean audio. If you can, turn your camera onto silent mode for those moments. Another thing I recommend is just stage a few of these shots afterwards.


Contracts are a solid MUST if you’re running any type of client service. Don’t just write one up yourself or rely on a free one from google. Hire a lawyer to write one for you or purchase one from a reliable source.

The Legal Paige
Creative Law Shop
The Law Tog

MN Elopement Videographer and Photographer Specializing in Unique Engagement Sessions

4. Making IT about your portfolio rather than your client

It is important to know what your client’s want and to read the room. If a couple is not feeling photos anymore then don’t force it. They should be able to enjoy their day rather than taking photos the whole time. You may not get all the shots you want… However, if they don’t want to stay out there any longer, they shouldn’t have too.

Too often, photographers get caught up in “getting the shot” that they forget the reason they are there. Not every couple is going to want to take photos for 45+ minutes and that is okay.

Read the room and adjust accordingly. It is important to make sure they have the best experience and can spend their wedding day how they would like.

5. advertising as a "candid" photographer, but NOT ACTUALLY GETTING real candid, documentary photos

Many photographers advertise they are candid photographers just because they use “prompts” instead of posing during portraits. However, they don’t get the standard cocktail hour shots of grandma and grandpa sitting on a bench together or chatting with family and friends. There have been a handful of photographers I’ve worked with that stand around during cocktail hour and only shoot a handful of photos cause it’s “boring” to shoot.

I personally take this time to get a ton of candids because I know how valuable it will be for the couple being able to see all their guests. I wished I had more photos of my guests from my wedding and so now I make it a priority always for my couples.

Most of the time couples don’t get to see every guest at their wedding. Being able to look back at their photos and see all their family and friends enjoying themselves at their wedding is such a gift!

Don’t just snap the shot list moments.

Instead, look for the moments like the maid of honor coming up to the bride and giving her a hug, Maybe even the conversation the groom and his mom are having off in the corner as they have a sweet moment together. Don’t forget to capture the guest reactions during the ceremony as grandma wipes her tears or holds grandpa’s hand.

Remember, these are moments the bride and groom don’t get to see because they were reciting their vows. How special it is for them to experience moments later on that they didn’t get to witness in person.

6. SPending too much on gear and not enough on education

Many new photographers mistakenly think that buying new gear will make them a better photographer.

Let me tell you something…

Education is far more important before investing in a new toy or camera lens. It is important to know how to use your gear and make the most of it before upgrading your camera.

I know a handful of photographers who shoot on super basic camera models, yet make amazing work because of their experience and creativity. Education will also skyrocket your growth in your business. You will make your investment back tenfold.


7. NOt understanding flash or thriving in low-light situations

Please educate yourself on camera flash before shooting your first wedding.

Most weddings require a heavy use of flash during the reception and sometimes getting ready spaces if it’s inside a room with limited natural light.

Knowing how to properly shoot with flash will have you confident walking into every wedding.

One of my favorite resources for learning flash is Eden Strader’s off camera flash course.


Make sure you carry liability insurance and have an established LLC or sole proprietorship registered with your state. 


LLC’s will protect you if a relationship with a client goes south. It means that they can’t come after your personal assets like your home or your personal finances.

9. Not hiring an accountant or charging sales tax

Make sure you understand taxes and how they work.

Another thing people aren’t always sure of is whether or not they should be charging sales tax.

If you aren’t sure, contact an accountant who can help you. The last thing you want to happen is to get audited by the IRS and owe thousands of dollars in fines years down the road.

10. Not communicating with their clients

Communication is a HUGE part of a client relationship.


It can truly make or break their whole entire experience.


Make sure you over communicate turnaround times, hop on several phone calls with them before the wedding to keep everyone on the same page. Send out questionnaires to get all of the fine details before the wedding day so you can serve them the best you can