Common Photo Problems and How to Fix Them

If you find yourself bumbling around with your camera just hoping for a great shot, you are not alone. Without professional training, photography can be very hit and miss for the average person.

There are a variety of very common mistakes a person can make when shooting photos and many of them are avoidable. With a little practice and understanding, these problems are easily avoided. You can take good shots, no fancy degree required!


Framing problems often come when the viewfinder is not aligned properly with the lens. What you see in your viewfinder should be the exact result of your shot. If you find your pictures seem to be off center, yet you are sure you framed them correctly, you may need to frame your shots differently to get the desired results.

If it’s not your viewfinder, the problem might be you. Often heads are cut out of frames or subjects are too far back to be of any interest within the photograph. The problem might be you simply aren’t taking enough time to properly frame your subject matter. Take an extra second before taking your shot to be sure all elements you want are included in the frame.

Busy Background

If you are shooting in an area with an extremely busy background, it may overwhelm your subject and make the picture fairly uninteresting and crowded. When you want to catch a candid shot in a busy environment, move in closer to your subject so they take up a lot of the frame. This will cut down on background items overwhelming the shot.

White Balance

Natural, tungsten and fluorescent lights all have different properties. If your camera is not set on the proper white balance setting, your pictures may have a colored hue you did not want. Many automatic cameras have automatic white balance built in and you don’t have to worry about it. If you have a camera with multiple settings, be sure to read your manual so you better understand what setting you should use for different lighting situations.

Back Light

Lighting can be tricky, especially when you are dealing with bright sunshine. If the light source directly behind your subject is too bright, you will get a photograph with a bright background and a darkened and unrecognizable subject.

Move your camera closer to your subject, either by zoom or by simply getting closer, to cut out some of the problem. If you can, move to a location where the bright sky or the bright sun is not directly outlining the back of your subject.

Flash Overexposure

If your flash is just too close to your subject, the bright light can wash out the subject, leaving them a white blob on your photo. You can fix this by moving back from your subject. If you have zoom, use this to move in if you wish. You can also eliminate this problem by shutting off your automatic flash and utilizing natural light for your shot.

Exposed Film

When light strikes undeveloped film, the film is rendered useless. When loading your camera, advance a few shots before taking any pictures. Use caution when you remove your film from your camera. If the film isn’t completely rewound into the canister you will expose your film and ruin the pictures.

Out of Focus Shots

Take some time to learn how your auto focus works. Most auto focusing cameras will focus on the center of any frame. You activate your auto focus by holding the shutter button halfway down while the camera is pointed at your subject. If your pictures are coming out blurry, chances are you are not using the auto focus correctly.

Red Eye

Red eye happens in photos when the direct light of an automatic flash reflects off of the retina in the subject’s eye. This happens usually when the subject is looking directly at the camera for the shot.

Some cameras come with red eye reduction. This camera will shoot off a series of flashes before the actual picture is taken to avoid this problem. The eye adjusts to the light before the photo is taken. Red eye reduction cuts down on, or completely eliminates the problem. If your camera does not have red eye reduction, your best bet is to turn off your flash and use natural light to take your shots.


A very common, and easily avoidable, problem with some photos are photos that come out with dark spaces, muddy spots or bright lines going through them. These photos often look mysterious but the cause is simple. There was, most likely, a camera strap or hand in the way of the lens.

Straps and fingers in front of the lens will cause the dark spots. If the flash is hitting these objects, you will get a bright white spot or line through your picture. The solution is to make sure all straps are away from the front of the camera and to be aware of the position of your fingers while you snap the shot.

Wrong Film Speed

If your photos are coming out dark or blurry on a regular basis, you may be using the wrong speed film for the your picture taking situation. The speed you should choose for everyday and well lit photos is 100. You should opt for 400 or 800 speed film for low light situations or for times when your subjects will be in motion, such as sports or live performances.

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