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8 Things Every Photographer Should Do In The New Year

By Hanssie on December 27th 2015

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.

If you want to learn and build a foundation in photography and lighting, might I suggest you check out our Photography 101 and Lighting 101 and 201 courses to help you get started?

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.

I love photographing sunsets with my iPhone. It's not an official personal project, but it definitely is my hobby.

I love photographing sunsets with my iPhone. It’s not an official personal project, but it definitely is a hobby.

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!

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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Herm Tjioe

    Making a goal to focus on a few set of techniques or skill sets in the post production part of the workflow, enough to feel competent and confident before the year is out. This I cannot stress enough of.

    Without the yang, your creative photo art is ying imbalanced.

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  2. Sudeshna Banks

    Being a photographer isn’t easy – it is a fine balance to combine the necessity of earning a living with one’s craft and continue to deepen one’s creativity, be in touch with the reason one took up photography…!
    Great article!

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  3. Liam Douglas

    Fantastic article on keeping things fresh and always learning new things!

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  4. Lee G

    Reminder to clean out the camera bag lol.

    I’m also planning on starting the 365 project. Maybe have a different account on IG get those creative juices flowing.

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  5. Mike Upton

    Think I might start a new personal project or two. Something simple that lets me be creative and get back in touch with the me that started taking photographs years ago.

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  6. Wedding Photographers

    The wedding photographers Ottawa should be able to click some extraordinary pictures which are quite out of the box. We are always looking for something very unconventional and different when it comes to wedding photographs. Having the same old mundane wedding album is something we are not looking forward to, especially after hiring a full-fledged wedding photographer.

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  7. John Cavan

    I’ve done a Project 365 a couple of times and, as a word of caution, it can become a chore as well if you’re struggling for ideas for your shoot. Only so many water drops or cat pictures you can take… :) Still, it’s a lot of fun and if you get creative with it, you can learn a ton and/or sharpen what you already know.

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    • Hanssie

      Correction: There are never enough cat pictures…

      *just kidding: I’m a dog person*

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  8. Andy & Amii Kauth

    Solid points.

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  9. Ralph Hightower

    I want to rent a tilt/shift lens for a week to get an understanding of the lens. I don’t know about a 365 project; I could do a 3×365: 3 cameras, 1 loaded with B&W, the other with color, and the other digital.

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    • Hanssie


      That sounds like a great goal. I’ve played around with tilt-shifts but only briefly. It’s fun.

      I can’t commit to a 365. I’m a great project starter and a terrible project finisher.

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    • Ralph Hightower


      A month or two before 2012, I made the decision to shoot 2012 exclusively with B&W film. It was a year of growth and experimentation with B&W contrast filters, but after about 3 months, I learned to visualize photos in B&W. It was a test of will of switching back to color, particularly with a spectacular sunrise or sunset, but I stuck with it. That was not necessarily a “project”.

      But I had two projects for 2012: 1) Photograph the sunrise on the solstices and equinoxes; 2) Photograph the full moons (that project didn’t start until after I got the idea in January).
      The sunrise project was photographing the sunrise over Columbia, South Carolina from the Lake Murray Dam. The Winter Solstice was brutal! The wind was blowing west off the lake at about the speed limit across the dam: 45 MPH. I was the only fool on the pedestrian walkway that morning.
      The Full Moon project was a test of character in January and February with changing B&W contrast filters (yellow, orange, and red) on my 80-205 and also switching to my 400. For the most part, I had good weather. I had to skip a moonrise or moonset because of clouds/rain maybe twice or had to delay a day because of no moon because of weather.
      Yea, I have my doubts about doing a 365 also.

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    • Hanssie

      You’re a braver soul than I. My goals have to go toward warm weather projects. It’s currently 62 degrees and I’m freezing.

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  10. Joel Dominguez

    Good call on refreshing the website. I know so many photographers that leave that for the very last thing to do, then it gets completely forgotten. I just finished cleaning up my LR catalogue and after going through with a “new eye” I actually found images that at the time I didn’t like and now can’t believe I didn’t pull those to begin with.

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    • Hanssie

      Hey Joel,

      Back in the day, we would have to call our web developers and pay lots of $$ to switch out the website pictures. Now it’s so easy, but so rarely done! That’s why I never got my own website developed when I was shooting. I just did what the cool kids did and had a “blog-site.”

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  11. Jean-Francois Perreault

    Thanks for the tips! I was wondering if you were still shooting Fuji. I guess that’s a yes :)

    I often do #8. I always hate doing it though. Seems I always end up back in square one when I do that.

    I’d like to do #5 but I’m planning a trip to California so that budget is gone.

    The one thing I’d really like to do this year is that 365 project. Do we just shoot whatever we find interesting or is there some kind of path we need to follow throughout the year?

    Oh and you should definitely try the 35mm. I have the 1.4 version and it rarely leaves my camera. Though I’d often like to have the 23 as well for when it’s tighter.

    Thanks again for the tips!!! Always nice to read your posts! :)

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    • Hanssie

      Hi jean-Francois!

      Yes, I still love the Fuji. There are moments when I kind of wish I gave the Sony a try before I just dove into the Fuji system, but then again, I am still paying the rest of my Fuji kit off and the bill would’ve been much more if I went Team Sony…

      AS for #5, you don’t have to buy anything new. Just use one of the lesser used lenses in your bag or you can rent something. I definitely would like to try the 35mm. Anthony keeps trying to get me to review it for the site…but I hate writing gear reviews because then I want to buy it all.

      As for the 365 project, I think you can make up your own rules! I have seen photographs post one random life photo a day and others follow a theme – whether it’s a photo in a certain color scheme, numbers they see, doors, kids, pets…whatever you want! That’s what makes it fun. I’ve even seen lists on Instagram where each month they have a specific item they are supposed to photograph. The sky’s the limit!

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  12. Tom Blair

    Great reminder now I have get my butt moving thanks

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  13. Stephen Glass

    Thanks H, a worthwhile read!

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    • Hanssie

      You’re welcome, Stephen! Thanks for reading. Hope you choose a few to complete next year!

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  14. Joseph Ford

    Excellent ideas, each and all. I can’t help think that learn a new skill should be a resolution.

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    • Hanssie

      I think learning new skills should always be on the list, whether January 1st or August 1st. How boring life would be if all we did was photograph the same things the same ways every time.

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  15. Alan Grover

    Those are great ideas, Thanks for the article.

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    • Hanssie

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Alan. Hope you’ll put a few of these into practice :)

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