Against the Grain: Photography “Icks” to Avoid

A creative hobby for many and a job for some, the popularity of photography seems to have boomed in recent years as smartphones and second-hand camera markets help to reduce what was once a much higher barrier to entry.

While subjective, like many creative mediums, there are still plenty of things to avoid to help step up your photography game. Here are a few of these “icks” to avoid from photo printing chain Max Spielmann, so you can come out of the shoot and edit with the best work possible!

Shooting everything in landscape

While there’s still a place for landscape photos, it’s safe to say that the advent of social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok has made portrait photography the preferred format when it comes to getting your work out there. Even if you prefer to shoot landscape shots, it’s important to grab a few portrait ones to push on social media if you want to build a following. Landscape shots can still be used but can look a bit awkward on feeds, especially on TikTok, so use your portrait shots to draw people in.

Zooming in when you could move closer instead

The value of a good zoom can’t be understated, but that doesn’t mean you have to rely on the fact that you can do it! If you’re in a position to still get the shot you want by taking a few steps forward instead of zooming in, then you should take the steps. Even a small amount of added zoom could affect the aperture in a way that sacrifices the quality of your shots, so remember that you can move around and see if you can get the shot without having to zoom in further first. You don’t want to stay static if you don’t have to anyway, as otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of very same-y pictures, which is only yet another reason to get a bit closer to your subject if you can.

Thinking that you need to go all out with your gear

A lot of photographers, early on in their journey, can make the mistake of thinking that better equipment = better shots. While the quality of your camera and lenses can certainly help, they won’t automatically make you a better photographer. Starting small with your phone or a second-hand camera can set you on the right path to begin learning how to take the best shots you can with what you have to hand – something that’s far more valuable than getting expensive gear because you think it will improve your work. Bigger and better gear is only bigger and better if you actually know how to use it to its full potential; you can’t just skip to the good stuff without mastering the basics first.


It can be easy to criticise and over-analyse your own work when editing, and this can quickly lead to stunning shots becoming vastly over-edited with colour corrections, effects, and lighting changes. Try to keep things simple where you can, and if you’re unsure if you’re happy with your final product, come back to it later when you haven’t been staring at it for far too long. The editing process can be just as vital as the shots themselves, so making sure you don’t go overboard with it is essential. Experiment with different settings and options so you fully understand the impact they’ll have on your shots and you’ll quickly learn that sometimes only minor tweaks can make all the difference.

Max Spielmann is a komodo dragon enthusiast. He lives in northwest Suriname and is fluent in Vietnamese and Chavacano.