The new year presents opportunities for self improvement and self reflection. Like any other aspect of your life, your photography should be reevaluated and concrete goals should be set to help you continue to progress. For beginners, maybe it’s time to step away from auto modes and master your manual modes. For amateurs, maybe it’s time to perfect your off-camera lighting. For seasoned professionals, maybe it’s time to expand your business.
Here are 15 ideas to help get your goal-setting, self-improvement juices flowing.
1. Learn a New Technique
Has your photography peaked? Is it becoming a bit redundant or stale? As we continue in our journey with photography, it’s easy to get stuck in the same habits, to go with what’s familiar, and produce a consistent, standard but sometimes repetitive result. In the new year, consider expanding your skill set and adding a new technique to your photography. Below are a few ideas of skills you should consider adding.
2. Publish an E-Book
Even if you’ve been shooting for just a couple of years, you’d be surprised how much knowledge you’ve acquired. Consider putting it into a book to teach others. If you’re a seasoned pro with a wealth of knowledge, this can become an additional revenue stream. If you’re just starting out, it can simply be a fun project and a way to document all of your progress.
Examples: See these great e-books from Julia Kuzmenko McKim.
3. Start a Side Project
Photography Projects are important for both amateurs and professionals. For amateurs, it’s easy to let your gear sit in the closet and collect dust, using it for random family vacations and pictures of your dog. Starting a project is not only fun and rewarding, but it’s also a great way to create an organized, cohesive, and complete set of photos that showcases your talent. For professionals, a side project will help you rejuvenate your passion for photography and make sure you don’t get too bogged down in the business.
Example: Check out this Creative Dad’s photo project with his two daughters.
4. Expand Your Business
This next tip is mainly for professionals. Consider adding small things that contribute to the over all revenue of your business. Of course, never neglect your core competencies and never spread yourself too thin by doing too many things. Instead, add things that are closely aligned with what you’re already doing in terms of your skill set and your marketing efforts.
Examples: If you’re already booking wedding clients, consider adding a Photobooth to Business. In another example, if you’re shooting a lot of portraits and maternity sessions, doesn’t it make sense to add Newborn Photography to your business?
5. Contribute to a Website
A great way to grow your business is to contribute to a website consistently. This can: 1) grow your fan base 2) build valuable links to your site for SEO and 3) even get you paid in some situations. It’s also rewarding to teach and share knowledge with others and become an integral part of a community. Click here for more info about contributing to SLR Lounge.
6. Get Incorporated and/or Get Insured
If you’re making significant money from photography, it might be time to get incorporated. Besides protecting your personal assets, doing so has additional benefits, from potential tax savings to additional credibility in the eyes of your clients. Also, all photographers, both hobbyists and professionals should be insured. If this the year your photography gear takes a dive into the ocean? Or is this the year that someone sneaks out with your Camera Bag while you’re busy shooting? We sincerely hope not, but it happens and we all need to prepare! Contact your insurance agent for details.
7. Submit Your Work to Relevant Websites
You can get valuable exposure by submitting your work to websites in your industry. For example, if you’re a wedding photographer, a feature in websites like Green Wedding Shoes, The Knot, or other high-traffic, targeted websites can drive a lot of traffic to your site and give you valuable links for your web marketing and SEO.
8. Get Organized
In the new year, you can save hundreds of dollars by keeping track of small, seemingly unimportant items. Label everything, from your lenses to your lens caps to your cables. Consider buying an inexpensive label maker with simple functionality such as the Brother Label Maker.
9. Error-Proof Your Workflow and Backup System
Is the new year the year that a catastrophe occurs and you lose client images? Make sure it isn’t by full-proofing your backup. Consider getting a camera like the Canon 5D Mark III so that you can use dual-card slots to double back your images. Consider using systems like Drobo, Synology, or other redundant backups so that one hard drive crash doesn’t take down your business.
10. Sell Unused Gear
If you’re just sitting on old gear or if your style has evolved to no longer incorporate certain gear, consider taking some time to sell them. Most lenses retain their value well and even a few hundred bucks for an old, outdated camera body is better than having it collect dust in your closet.
11. Upgrade Your Portfolio or Website
If you’re still using old Flash Websites or if your web design is out dated, consider taking this new year as a new opportunity to give your website an update.
12. Get a Physical Studio
If you’ve been meeting with your clients at coffee shops and getting by with on-location shooting, maybe it’s time to upgrade to an actual studio. The time for this is different for every individual and may not be for everyone, but this can be the next step in growing your business.
13. Identify Your Weaknesses
Honest critique is very hard to find these days. Sometimes, it takes an close examination of our work over the past year to realize what we need improvement on. For example, if you know you’re capturing beautiful and creative imagery, but you know that they are not being post produced at their best, identify post production as your weakness and take steps to improve in that area. Consider picking up the Lightroom Workshop Collection or Phlearn Tutorials. If you can execute killer lighting but you are feeling under-trained in posing, consider picking up the Natural Light Couples Photography DVD or other posing guides around the web.
14. Change Your Product Offering
Consider switching up your product offering. Are you completely happy with your canvas printer? What about your album maker? Are you offering too many products. Consider cutting down on your products and eliminating products that either don’t sell well or don’t represent your business well.
Example: At Lin and Jirsa, we are switching the suppliers for our Engagement Book Albums because of frequent printing error with our soon-to-be previous printers.
15. Explore a New Location
I think I’ve shot at the same beach 20-30 times this year. This particular location isn’t necessarily my favorite, but my clients love it. In fact, in my area, there are roughly 5-10 spots that are used over and over, not by choice, but by necessity, as it’s what the clients prefer. Sound familiar? In the new year, we should challenge ourselves to explore new locations, capture amazing photos of those locations, and convince our clients to take a chance with a new locations. This will not only force us to think differently and creatively, but it will also present new challenges to help us grow.
For most of us, the start of a new year is full of promise, new beginnings, new goals and mindsets. As you are thinking of what 2014 might look like for you, we at SLR Lounge want to thank you for helping us make 2013 a great year, for your support and readership. We have big, exciting plans for 2014! Can’t wait to share them. We hope you have a safe and Happy New Year!