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4 Goals to Set for Expanding Your Photographic Creativity

Setting creativity goals in photography

The new year has come and gone and we find ourselves well and truly into 2020. Traditionally, many significant goals are made around the new year mark. But setting goals is a great way to work towards achieving a desired outcome at any time of the year. So why wait? Here are some simple creativity goals you can set yourself to expand on your photographic practice right now.

creativity goals post-it notes

Goal 1: try new subject matter

There’s nothing wrong with specialising, but branching out in photography can often reveal surprising creative opportunities.

For the first of our creativity goals, grab a pen and paper. Your task is to list at least 10 subjects that interest you but that you haven’t photographed in a while (if at all). Bugs, aviation, food, architecture… the list can be as varied as you’d like.

Once you’ve finished compiling your list, narrow your results down to the three most appealing (and doable) options. You want topics that interest you, but are also realistic and achievable.

creativity goals photographing insects
One of my chosen subjects for this goal was insects. f/4.5 1/1600 ISO 640

Once you’ve decided on your top three, set a reasonable time frame to photograph your chosen subject matter (it can be weeks, months or even years!).

You may also need to consider what photographic equipment you require for your goal. And don’t forget to do your research. Good research into a subject and a realistic time frame will help you make an actionable plan to achieve your creativity goals.

Keep your list nearby as motivation. You could stick it on the fridge, or in your camera bag…somewhere that will remind you of your goal. You could even use the list as a check-list of sorts. The point is that you have identified topics of interest and made a commitment to work towards a corresponding goal.

By creating a list of new subject matter, doing the research, and setting an actionable goal, you’ve already created a solid foundation from which to launch into new photographic opportunities.

Goal 2: room for improvement

Goal setting is a great way to check-in with your own creative process. Grab yourself another sheet of paper and a pen (don’t worry, the whole article isn’t about list-making) and jot down two or three aspects that might be hindering your creative practice. Some ideas are:

  • Running low on time for creativity
  • Lack of photographic direction or improvement
  • Difficulty with the technical aspects of photography
  • Suffering from creative blocks
  • A decrease in inspiration

Next, write some actionable goals that will make a positive impact in the areas you’ve identified as needing improvement. Here’s my list:

  1. Running short on time – dedicate 30 minutes to creativity a day – 1 week
  2. Creative block – photograph at least one favourite subject each week – 1 month

You’ll notice I also added a time frame to complete or perform these goals – this will give you motivation, and a concrete idea of how your goal will impact your practice.

Again, choose a realistic time frame. You can always elect to tackle a goal for a week and then expand the duration from there.

creativity goals abstract photography in black and white
Photographing a favourite subject regularly is a goal that can keep you motivated within your creative practice. f/4.0 1/100 ISO 100

Put your list on your cork board, in your organiser, as an alarm on your phone…whatever works. The list serves as a reminder for you to make time for growing your own practice.

Do your best to achieve the creativity goals you’ve set, but don’t worry if you can’t get everything done. Goal setting is about gradual growth, and every small step toward your goal is a victory. Just do your best!

Goal 3: try new tools and techniques

Not everyone has a spare camera, lens, tripod, etc laying around. But if you do, setting a dedicated goal to put some of your underused equipment to good use is a great way to expand your creativity. The same goes for testing out some new photographic techniques.

blurred and abstract photography creativity goals
Adopting a goal to take up blurred or abstract photography is a great way to expand your creativity. f/1.8 1/320 ISO 800

You don’t have to set a terribly elaborate goal to make a difference. Committing to experimenting with an old lens can offer a completely new perspective.

Shooting with film for a month can test your photographic approach.

Setting a goal to get out of Auto Mode or tackling a new technique each week in-camera or in Photoshop will grow your practice significantly. Setting creativity goals based around new tools and techniques challenges your photographic approach, thus, building your creative repertoire.

Goal 4: taking time out for inspiration

We touched on this before, but inspiration can be a fleeting phenomenon. One minute you’re bursting at the seams with creativity and then running on empty the next.

Creativity goals inspire us to take the time to do a stock-take on our own creative levels. Everyone feels creatively drained from time to time, but making a dedicated gap in your schedule to check-in with what is going on in the artistic sphere creates more opportunities for gathering inspiration and technical knowledge.

research creativity goals in photography
f/2.2 1/80 ISO 200

Start by setting a goal to dedicate at least 15-30 minutes per day for a week to inspiration. Reading books, going to exhibitions, researching websites (like Digital Photography School of course!), filling up a visual diary, and even checking Instagram can all contribute to a greater grasp of photographic theory and execution.

Motivational text for creativity goals

Once your set period of inspirational activities is over, review and make adjustments to your goal so it better suits your daily regimen.

Then…start again!

Soon, you’ll be in the habit of surrounding yourself with inspirational resources that recharge your creative practice and keep you abreast of creative possibilities and solutions.

Conclusion

Goal setting may seem daunting at first. However, once you break the process down, the usefulness and accessibility of goal-making become more apparent.

Goals encourage us to take active steps towards bettering our photographic practice. By making creativity goals, we commit to expanding our creativity incrementally, bettering our theoretical knowledge and practical experience.

Have you set yourself a creative goal recently? How did it go? Share your experience in the comments!

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Megan Kennedy
Megan Kennedy

is a photographer and writer based in Canberra, Australia. Both her writing and photography has been featured in numerous publications. More of Megan’s work can be viewed at her website or on Instagram at ejekt_