How to

10 Photography Myths You Should Stop Believing

Key Takeaways

  • You don’t need to buy lots of expensive lenses to improve your photography skills; it’s more important to know how to use your camera effectively.
  • Carrying multiple lenses on a shoot can be cumbersome and distracting; focus on picking the right lens for the specific shoot and learn to work with its limitations.
  • A camera doesn’t always capture what you see; lighting, colors, and lens choice can affect the final image. Understanding how to manipulate your camera settings will help you achieve your desired results.

Photography is a fantastic hobby, and it can provide a much-needed creative outlet. For some people, it’s also a prosperous and fulfilling career.

As humans, we’ve taken pictures for centuries. However, being an excellent photographer has never been as accessible as it is today. Unsurprisingly, many people have felt empowered to hone their skills and express themselves through imagery.

When you look for photography advice online, you’ll notice that you’re bombarded with a lot of contradicting information. So, we thought that now would be a good time to put some of the biggest myths to bed.

1. You Need to Have Lots of Lenses

Photo of Nikon camera body surrounded by lots of lenses

A quick YouTube search will reveal countless videos about the best lenses for street photography, taking unique portraits, and so on. When you’re just getting started and don’t know what you want to specialize in, it’s easy to think that you need one of each.

However, this is far from the case. Firstly, lenses are often expensive; adding to your kit is something you do over time. Secondly, your photos won’t improve unless you know how to use your camera.

Whether you’re buying your first prime lens or adding a zoom lens to your collection, you probably need to experiment a little with a kit lens to see what you do and don’t like. By doing that, you’ll make a smarter decision when the time comes to upgrade.

2. You Need to Take Lots of Lenses Out With You

Over the shoulder shot of person taking a picture of a house at golden hour

At some point, you’ll probably encounter a camera bag with multiple compartments when searching for gear online. And on some occasions, you might notice your favorite YouTuber changing between one or more lenses while they’re out on a shoot.

When you see these, it’s easy to think that you have to take two, three, or even more lenses out with you every time you take pictures. But as anyone who’s done this will testify, changing between lenses on your camera gets annoying—fast.

Another problem with taking a lot of lenses out on one shoot is that you’ll constantly worry about focal length rather than getting the shot you want. Moreover, you could miss that perfect moment because you were too busy changing your lenses.

When you take photos, pick one lense that you think is the best for your goals on that shoot. If you don’t get the picture you want because you didn’t have another lens, learn from that and go out again some other time.

3. “The Camera Never Lies”

Close up of photographer with two cameras around their neck

Your camera might see the same composition you saw, but that’s not always the case with lighting and colors. If you’ve ever taken a picture you thought was jaw-dropping, only to find that it looks nowhere near as good on the camera, you’ll know what we mean.

Your lens can also determine how your photo looks. For example, some focal lengths might make a person’s face look wider or narrower.

The settings you use can determine how accurate a picture is, too. If your ISO is too low, for example, your image will look darker than the scene was in front of you. When out taking pictures, remember that you can manipulate your camera to get the results you want.

4. You Need a Good Camera

A hand taking holding an iPhone taking a picture of the ocean

If you want to get started with photography, it can feel disheartening to see people walking around with equipment worth thousands of dollars—especially if you don’t have a big budget. Many people refuse to get started because they think what they’ve got is not good enough, meaning that the world misses out on seeing their art.

When you’re at the start of your photography journey, the camera you have doesn’t matter. Most smartphone cameras can take amazing shots, and you’ve always got one on you—so it makes sense to begin with that.

Telling a story is just as important as the quality of your pictures. Start with your phone or the DSLR you’ve got in your garage, and slowly upgrade your gear when you know what you want. Consider looking at the iPhone camera settings you must master for better results.

5. Your Gear Doesn’t Matter

A person looking through a camera lens taking a photo of the photorgapher
Image Credit: file404/Shutterstock

Okay, so this is a paradox considering what we just said.

As a beginner photographer, your equipment doesn’t matter. But if you want to take things further and make a career out of taking photos, your gear will become essential at some stage.

The pricier cameras and lenses cost more for a reason. They take clear pictures, give you more options, and make your job easier. Don’t worry if you can’t afford more expensive gear for now, though; start with what you’ve got and put together a long-term saving plan.

6. Photography Isn’t a Skill

A woman hiking and looking at her camera

Considering how widespread smartphone and digital cameras are these days, it’s easy to think that photography isn’t a skill. However, high-level photography is about much more than clicking a button on a camera; you need to understand lighting, composition, color theories, and much more.

To become a good photographer, it takes most people at least a few years. And to be the photographers you see selling fine art, it can take decades in some instances.

If you want to improve your photography faster, you can check out the numerous photography courses and guides available on the web as a starting point.

7. You Can Fix Everything on Your Computer

Image showing the Lightroom logo on a Mac

A common misconception is that you can fix everything in a bad picture by using editing software like Lightroom, Capture One, or Photoshop. Yes, you can change a lot, but your camera’s settings when you take the picture will dictate just as much.

Let’s say that you took a photo that’s too dark. While you can increase the exposure, you might also add unwanted grain. Similarly, you can sharpen blurry images—but it’s challenging to make it look like you originally intended when you pressed the button.

The more you get right when you take the photo, the easier it’ll be to make tweaks in the post-production phase.

8. You Need to Post Regularly on Social Media to Grow as a Photographer

Photo of Instagram on a user's smartphone next to a book and camera

Arguably the biggest photography myth that you’ve probably been fed is that you need a big social media presence—or to post regularly on said platforms—to grow as a photographer.

It’s true that posting regularly on social media can help you gain more awareness as a photographer. But if you don’t use these platforms intentionally, they turn from tools to distractions. I’ve seen countless creators burn out from focusing too much on social media, and not enough on their actual craft.

You should use social media as an addition to what you’re doing elsewhere. But if you don’t want to have a presence on these platforms, consider the many other ways that artists can grow an audience without social media. Blogging and starting a newsletter are two examples.

9. You Must Use Manual Mode

A woman holding a camera and taking photos of someone else with a cliff in the background

Now, don’t get us wrong… Manual Mode can be an excellent tool for taking better pictures. It’s also a good idea to get out of Auto Mode and learn other aspects of your camera to maximize your photography toolkit. However, Manual Mode isn’t necessary to take good photos.

Modern mirrorless and DSLR cameras have several settings that you can use to take better pictures. Personally, I use Aperture Priority more than almost every other setting. Why? Because someone who primarily photographs street scenes and cityscapes, I don’t want to miss a good shot because I was messing around trying to get the correct settings.

Try all the different modes on your camera to gain a better understanding of them. After doing that, you can choose the ones that work best for each situation you find yourself in.

10. “Editing Is Cheating”

A photo of lightroom open on a macbook

One photography myth that I believed for a long time was that editing my photos was cheating. This could have been due to impostor syndrome, and it might also have been because I had quite a narrow mind when it came to this particular craft.

Editing your photos isn’t necessary, but it’s a good idea to learn how to use Lightroom (or Capture One) and Photoshop if you want to hone your photography style. What you see when you upload files on your computer—especially RAW files—isn’t necessarily what you see when taking the picture. So, editing tools can help you fine tune numerous aspects and make corrections.

Plenty of Photography Myths Are Worth Ignoring

When you look from the outside in, it’s easy to dismiss photography as nothing more than pointing a camera at something and hoping for the best. But in reality, taking photos is a craft that takes years of consistency to become great at.

The best way to find out what is and isn’t true about photography is to go out and take pictures yourself. Over time, you’ll be able to sift through the noise and make your own decisions.

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