back to top

10 Reasons Your Photos Suck (and How to Fix Them)

A- A+

Subscribe Below to Download the Article Immediately

You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training:

Your privacy is safe. I will never share your information.
Related course: Quick Capture Cheat Sheets

Are you wondering “why am i so bad at taking pictures”? You’re not alone. A lot of people have trouble taking pictures that look good, and for a lot of different reasons. Maybe you don’t know how to use your camera’s settings properly, or maybe you don’t understand the principles of photography. Or maybe you just don’t have the right equipment.

10 Reasons Why Your Photos Suck

If your photos suck, it’s time to fix them.

10. Bad Lighting

All too often, photos are taken on compact cameras and DSLRs in inadequate lighting conditions. Lighting is key to taking a good photo. I know it sounds obvious but a photo really is only a collection of light. It has to be good.

Pop-up flashes tend to cast a very harsh light over your subject, flattening the image. Instead, off-camera flashes, which can be rotated to point to a wall or ceiling, have the ability to create much more natural light.

These also cast shadows over the subject but in places where shadows would usually be, giving them a lot more depth and making the whole photo look more natural.
Two faces show excessive use of flash - Reasons Your Photos Suck

9. You’re Making Excuses

Even today I was walking through London and saw a building I wanted to take a photo of, but found myself thinking, “Oh well, I haven’t got my wide-angle lens on. Another time.”

I made myself take a photo anyway and I actually think it’s a lot stronger than it would have been with my other lens. I had to think more carefully about the photo I was taking and how I could get something interesting into the frame.

Stop making excuses and instead give yourself a challenge.
A building showing bricked up windows - Reasons Your Photos Suck

8. Using the Wrong White Balance

White balance is very important in making a photo look natural. The wrong WB will produce a nasty color cast and make skin colors, among other things, look unnatural.

The most common example of this is when shooting under tungsten light—skin color can appear almost orange.

Two faces that show an orange light - Reasons Your Photos Suck

7. Motion Blur

Shooting in low light often requires you to make certain compromises such as having to use a high ISO. One compromise that you can’t allow is motion blur as it renders your photos unusable.

Raise your shutter speed so that it’s at least the same as your focal length.

For example, if you’re shooting using a 50mm lens on a crop sensor, your focal length is effectively 75mm, so your shutter speed should be 1/75 of a second or higher.

6. Bad Depth of Field

Often, when people get their first f/1.8 lens, they tend to put it on f/1.8 and leave it there.
Shallow depth of field has its creative uses but it doesn’t hold a place in every photo. Your photos will start to look the same and therefore cease to impress.

The same can be said about too much depth of field—you need to try and find a compromise and use it when it’s best suited.
The faces of two girls show a bad depth of field - Reasons Your Photos Suck

5. Shooting at the Wrong Time

For example, shooting in the evening or early morning when the sun is low in the sky produces much better results than under the midday sun, where your photos will appear bright and harsh.

If you’re struggling to capture a scene that looks really good during the day, it’s probably because your eyes can adjust the exposure in ways that your camera cannot. Shooting in the evening will help remove silhouettes and produce a much more even exposure.

4. Distractions

Anything that’s not adding to a photo is taking away from it.

Think about what you’re photographing before you take it. Ask yourself if that object/person adds anything to this photo?

More often than not, when I ask myself this question, I end up altering my camera’s angle to take a much more interesting shot.

3. You’re Trying to Impress Others

Shoot what you like, not what you think others will like, or you’ll never be happy.

You know what looks good, which means that you can picture a realistic target image. This mindset makes it much easier to obtain pleasing results than if you are trying to impress the masses and, at the end of the day, you’ll be happy with your photos.

If you see other photos that you love, take inspiration from them without simply trying to replicate them.

An over-photoshopped image of a carousel - Reasons Your Photos Suck

2. Poor Composition

If you’re not too familiar with composition, at least try to follow the rule of thirds—any key factors of your image should line up within a third of the way in from any side of the photo (horizontally and/or vertically).

One thing that bugs me about photos found on Facebook is how they’re often framed poorly—a group of people in one corner with lots of dead space above and to the side of the photo.

Think hard about what you want to include in a photo and wait for the right moment to capture it.

1. Too Much Photoshop

I’m all for a bit of post-processing, but when it’s overdone and on every photo, it looks pretty terrible.

Try to get the exposure right in the camera and restrict post-production to cropping, contrast, and enhancing techniques.

Purposely overexposing a photo, adding fake lens flare, going black and white for no reason, and too much contrast will detract from what could be a very good photo.


We all have to start our photography journey somewhere. And sometimes, that means our photos suck at the beginning of that journey. But if you learn the basics of photography, they don’t have to suck for long.

Check out our Photography for Beginners course to take your photography to the next level!

Show Comments (11)