As we go through our photographic lives, we all tend to get fairly good at whatever type of work we are interested in pretty quickly. In fact, I would venture to guess that we reach 70-80% efficiency and knowledge of our craft after a mere five or six years in the business. However, it takes the rest of our lives/careers to learn the other 20-30%. Technology, new concepts and capabilities, and our own tastes change, making it virtually impossible to ever truly "master" our craft. While on the path however, there are a few things we need to try and remember.
One of the biggest mistakes I see from seasoned veteran photographers is that they often forget what they know. They will often forget to place the respect and importance on a tripod for example, thinking they are pros and can decide when they need to use one. Well, listen to this. YOU NEED TO USE ONE... Almost all of the time! Folks, I think I can hand hold my camera really steady. I cannot EVER hold it as steady as even the cheapest old tripod. You know when you've missed it and your image contains a slight bit of camera shake or motion. The following images have ALL benefitted by using a tripod. A pain to use sometimes, yes! . A lot of trouble to travel with? Of course..But it is worth the extra trouble each and every time I make the effort to do it right.
Also, let me encourage you to use the "Mirror Lock Up" feature anytime you are shooting at a shutter speed slower than 1/15th of a second even when using studio lights. Mirror bounce in a DSLR is for real and can cause issues, even very small issues in sharpness or appearance of sharpness. It is the adding of the combined small issues that degrade our image quality along the path. Not the big mistakes we make. Here are examples with and without strobes where mirror lock up helped with the success of the image.
Folks, you'll generally be happier with your work, you'll apologize to yourself less often, and you'll know you have truly optimized your images when you go out of your way to go back to the basics. It's a great feeling to know when you have done your very best.