Jayna Watkins Photography

Three Mistakes I Made…

I started a journey in 2012 that I never thought would lead me here. I started doing portrait sessions for money instead of just for fun, with no real thoughts that I would be pursuing this is my career! I was in college for something completely different at the time, and never expected that in four years I would be studying business and planning to one day be a full-time wedding and portrait photographer! I’ve learned a lot along the way, and here are three of the biggest mistakes I made when I started out shooting.

1. Shooting in Auto Mode

I cringe when I remember that my first several shoots were done in Auto mode. What was I thinking? I would upload photos to my computer after a session and wonder why the image didn’t turn out the way I pictured in my head. I started joining online workshops and watching courses that went over the basics. Soon I learned to master the ISO-Aperture-Shutter Speed triangle, and that completely changed the game for me! I’m not saying that I am a perfect photographer or that I take stellar images 100% of the time. However, since learning to shoot in Manual mode, I can now control my photos so that I can decide if I want a creamy background with lots of bokeh, or if I want a super sharp image with every detail in focus. I’ve learned to shoot in harsh sunlight as well as darkly lit sanctuaries, and none of that would have been possible if I had continued to shoot in Auto.


2. Changing Up My Editing Styles Every Shoot

I hadn’t really gotten my Photoshop skills to an impressive level when I first began my journey as a photographer. I didn’t quite know where I wanted to go with my editing. One shoot might turn out bright and colorful, while the next might end up dark and moody. I couldn’t manage to find my style. After I began using Adobe Lightroom, I started trying different techniques, such as blowing out my highlights, warming up my images, or adding grain. After playing around with different styles of editing, I finally found my perfect style for ME. It may not be what makes every photographer smile, but it is what I like, and that’s what matters to me! I adore creamy, colorful images that show joy and love. For my black and white images, I prefer a look that is more timeless and shows emotion.


3. Using a Kit Lens

I know, I know! Every photographer reading this is probably cringing right now, but I’m being honest! I didn’t know what prime lenses were or even what the red rings on the top Canon lenses meant. I thought I was doing just fine by using the lens that came with the camera. I was saving money by using it instead of purchasing something else, after all! I didn’t realize that using a quality lens can make all the difference in your images. The first time I put my 35mm on my DSLR body and took some shots of my precious niece, I squealed! I will forever be in love with prime lenses.


Although I know I made some mistakes when I first started out as a portrait and wedding photographer, I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t started out the way I did! I had to teach myself how to become the best photographer I could be while still staying true to my creative style. I will continue to make mistakes – in fact, I could probably update this post in five years with mistakes I made in 2016! Until then, I’ll keep trying to grow in my love for shooting. There are always new techniques to learn, and I’m up for the challenge!



None of the images featured in this blog post have anything to do with my top three mistakes. In fact, they are three of my favorite shots I’ve ever captured of a church on a wedding day! I’m a visual person, and don’t find blog posts as interesting if there aren’t photos. 😉

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