As we embark upon another new year and reflect back at 2015, many of us are reflecting on the last twelve months, making resolutions, and setting new goals for the year to come. Some of you may be thinking of losing some weight (again) or getting back to the gym (again); others may be wanting to stop a bad habit or pick up a good habit. Whatever your resolutions or goals for the new year may be, let me give you a few photography-related suggestions that will help you become a better photographer in 2016.
1. Refresh Portfolio Images
Most of us do not have a print portfolio anymore and allow our websites show off our best images. With everything that it takes to run a photography business, updating your website (or print portfolio) with fresh new photos isn’t high on the priority list. I encourage you to take the time this new year to change out some of the old images and replace them with some new ones you took this year. Many of us update our blogs regularly (except me), but forget about our actual websites. Show off a new technique that you learned or a new venue you photographed at and don’t forget to beef up the SEO so that your potential clients can find you easier via Google.
If you need some help on SEO and web marketing be sure to check out our eBook here.
2. Learn a New Technique
It’s a new year, which means it’s time to learn new things! If we aren’t continually learning, we become stagnant, and our businesses will get left behind. Whether you’re a beginner who hasn’t mastered shooting manually yet or a pet photographer who wants to learn more about wedding photography, make a list of a few new techniques you are committing to learn in the new year.
3. Start a Personal Project
When I began photography, I dove in headfirst and basically worked, worked, worked until I got burned out. For a while, I got really bored with all things photography and the thousands of dollars and hours I had spent on building my business looked like it was going to go to waste. Looking back, one thing I failed to do was continue to ignite my passion for photography by forcing myself to act like a hobbyist from time to time. From the second I decided I wanted to make photography a career, I stopped photographing things for fun, and eventually it all became a chore.
A way to combat the boredom is to start a personal project. A popular one is the 365 project where you photograph and post on social media a photo a day. Find something that interests you and photograph it however you like, for yourself. It could be a long term or short term project. It could be something totally opposite from your niche. The point is, don’t give yourself too many parameters and allow your creativity to shine through. It’s vitally important for us creatives. Read PHOTOGRAPHY AND I BROKE UP! HOW I REKINDLED OUR LOVE AFFAIR for some other great ideas on personal projects.
4. Clean House
Don’t wait till spring for a cleaning; it’s time to start the new year fresh and new. In the Chinese culture, we spend days before the Lunar New Year thoroughly cleaning the house so we can bid farewell to the old and welcome in the new. Now is a great time to clean out those camera bags; find the stale gum that fell out of its wrapper and found its way into the bottom of your bag or the old wedding schedules that collected in the pockets. This is also a great time to have your sensors cleaned, take your camera for a little maintenance or maybe even selling a few lenses you never use.
5. Try a New Lens In Your Bag
I only really shoot with three lenses – the Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 (my main lens), the Fujifilm XF 56mm f/1.2, and the Fujifilm XF 50-140 f/2.8. For the most part, the 16-55mm stays on my camera 95% of the time. Next year, I am going to try and switch that and shoot with the 56mm at least 50% of the time. This will allow me to dust it off and force me to think more creatively when shooting.
I am also considering getting the 35mm and taking that prime out for a spin.
6. Get a New Hard Drive
Don’t be one of the horror stories. Hard drives are not reliable; that’s a fact. Make sure you have a solid back up for your back up and make sure you start the year with new storage. If you need help in that department, check out some of these articles:
7. Rotate Out Old Memory Cards
The power of our memory cards – without them, our cameras would be useless. Make sure you are protected by protecting your client’s images. Swap out some of your older memory cards so that you are proactively working against corruption. Amazon has been having some great deals on Sandisk cards the last few weeks, and sales keep popping up, so keep checking here.
Read some tips on recovering images from a memory card in this article.
8. Look at Your Old Work
This might be the most cringeworthy one, as we tend to be our own worse critic. But looking back at your old work is a great tool to help you learn from your mistakes and grow. Go ahead and dig up those old Lightroom catalogs or previous blog posts and compare them side by side with your recent work. What has improved? What do you still need to work on? Look at it from a critical eye, but then also remember how far you’ve come. The image above was from one of the first weddings I second shot. I use to love that image and be so proud of it, but now it makes me cringe. From the terrible flare that overpowers the image, the awful composition, and the amateurish logo, as well as my former last name…I’ve learned a lot since then thanks in part to reviewing old images like this one.
19 brave photographers showed us their then & now comparisons; it was mind-blowing and inspirational. Check it out in this article: THEN AND NOW | 19 PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS SHARE THEIR BEGINNINGS, then take a deep breath and do the same with your own work.
How are you ushering in 2016? Do you have any goals or projects you’re excited to start? Comment in the section below!