The 8 Biggest Photography Fails (and How to Fix Them)

The 8 Biggest Photography Fails (and How to Fix Them)

If there’s one thing photographers of all experience levels agree upon, photography can be tough sometimes. Luckily, the most common photo fails are getting easier to fix as technology improves. Here are 8 of the most common issues with digital images and the easy changes you can make to fix each one:

1. The finished photo is too dark.

A dark photo is usually the result of photographing with an ISO that is too low. ISO is a measure of how sensitive your camera is to light. So, in a low-light setting, keep your ISO higher to capture as much detail as possible.

Portrait Taken At Low ISO
ISO too low!
Portrait Taken At Correct ISO
Correct ISO

2. The angle from which you’re photographing is too low.

Everyone who’s used the “face time” feature on their phone or computer knows that most images taken from below eye level are somewhat unflattering.

Keep the lens above the subjects’ faces to help them look their best in the final images.

Photo taken from low angle

3. Your subjects are different distances away from you.

“Depth of field” is a photography concept that describes the distance between the nearest and furthest objects from the lens.

If you’re photographing two things that should be in sharp focus, position them along the same plane when the photograph is taken or use a smaller aperture (such as f11, f16, or f22).

Depth of Field Demonstration

If you’re taking a photo of a two people together, both of their noses should be pressing up against the same, invisible pane of glass. That will ensure that their facial features can be captured in the same amount of detail.

Correct depth of field

4. Your shutter speed is too slow to capture fast motion.

Whether you’re photographing a squirmy pet, your child’s soccer game, or a Graphic Designer jumping up in the air (see below), quick motions can cause photographs taken with a slow shutter speed to be blurry.

If possible, use a shutter speed of 1/1000+ when photographing sports or other motion-heavy activities.

Shutter speed too slow
Shutter speed too slow!
Correct shutter speed photo
Shutter speed of 1/1000

5. Too little or too much contrast.

If you find that the spectrum of light that you see with your naked eye is greater than the detail captured in the photo, it’s most likely due to a lack of contrast.

Fixing the contrast in your photo is easier than it’s ever been before. Most smartphone camera applications have easy ways to expose photos correctly, as do desktop programs like Lightroom.

If your photo is still too bright and lacking in definition, try covering the top of the lens with a jacket or a blanket to reduce the sunlight that reaches the lens.

Too little contrast
Too little contrast
Perfect amount of contrast
Perfect contrast

6. Your horizon is crooked.

Even if you feel like you’re standing on even ground, it’s easy to accidentally take a photograph in which the horizon isn’t perfectly straight.

Rotate the photo in your photo editing program to make sure the image is exactly how nature intended. You’d be surprised how big of an improvement this makes in the final composition!

Crooked Horizon Photograph
Crooked horizon
Photograph with Straight Horizon Line
Straight horizon

7. The neutral tones in the image have a yellow tint to them.

White balance determines how a camera will interpret every color that’s in front of the lens. White balance settings can be adjusted in-camera based on changing color conditions.

Photo With Poor White Balance
Photo With Poor White Balance
Photo With Corrected White Balance
Photo With Corrected White Balance

8. Your photo looks pixelated.

All photos are made of pixels, or tiny squares of color. When a digital image file or printed photo has too few of them, the photo looks less realistic. The more pixels a photo has, the higher its resolution.

Low Resolution Photo
Low resolution photo file

Higher resolution photos look sharp, clear, and true-to-life. Resolution is reduced, however, when you use a digital zoom feature or when you crop a photo. Check out our Image Resolution Guidelines to learn more.

What are some of your tried-and-true fixes for these common photo fails? Post them below in the comments!


  1. Photo sizing is one of the biggest problems for me. I don’t want to upload a photo with my watermark to find it won’t fit into the framing for the selected size for print.

  2. Good reminders even for us pro’s.

  3. Thank you for these tips! Every now and then a little refresher is all I need to get back on track 🙂

  4. Hey Laura,

    Great article! This will help a lot of photography enthusiasts and I think all NPL customers should read this blog often. Once read, these articles should be called upon for reference from time to time.

    With regard to problem one – I think of ISO like a flashlight. In a dark room or poorly lit scene, you need more ISO like you would need more light from your flashlight in order to see. In the bright sunlight, however, you need less ISO as you would rely less on your flashlight to see things around you. The brighter the scene the lower the ISO number.

  5. John A. Dunnigan, Sr.

    Tips on increasing resolution (resampling, etc.) for larger format prints.

    • You can’t increase the resolution of a photo. You can decrease it, but you really can’t increase it. Where does the fine detail come from that isn’t there? There are tricks you can do to help a low resolution image look a little better, but it is very little.

      If you want larger, better prints, you better take pictures with the camera’s highest resolution settings, or get a better camera body.

    • To increase resolution, I save as a .png file.

  6. Include dirty lense…

  7. Too dark is not always the ISO. Perhaps the ISO was perfect for the quality of the image that the photographer wanted and maybe the f-stop or shutter speed was off. There are three settings on the camera to ballence for a correct exposure and ISO is not the only reason for under exposure. Maybe the photographer was planing on further exposure correction in Photoshop or Lightroom.

  8. A grainy comes from too HIGH ISO – it introduces noise in the image. Bumping the ISO is fine but as THE last resort as it should always be a low as possible for the clearest, sharpest image.

    Adjusting shutter and aperture should be first to lighten a dark image.

  9. For example, if you take pictures randomly, an ordinary camera is sufficient.

    Perhaps the best feature of this model though is the Smile shutter
    technology. You get very clear and crisp video of images shot at night or in low light.

  10. Les Berkley

    Congratulations on turning a file with yellow white balance to one with magenta white balance.

  11. A good friend taught me to improve resolution to always make sure your shutter speed is greater than your focal distance i.e. If your subject is 200mm away, make sure your shutter speed is, at least, 1/200.

  12. Vanessa Dean

    It often happens that after shooting I review the photos and they do not come out as I imagined them. In this case, I have to use editors and plugins like these to fix the situation. Using them you can improve light and correct sharpness so you can save any photo.

  13. If you need to see a complete guide on errors related to JPEG images then read this post


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