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Happy New Year! I love the new year. It brings forth hope, aspirations, and positivity.
Metaphorically, it is like the slate has been wiped clean and you have a chance to chase some of your most amazing and lofty goals. So why not use this new year to invest in something that you really love as well – your photography. Here are some simple easy ways to invest in bettering your creativity and your craft over the next 365 days.
Let’s drop the myth that only professional photographers who are in business are allowed to have photography goals. I don’t care if you are just beginning to learn photography or have been doing this for years, one of the best ways to improve at anything is to have realistic goals for what you aspire to and want to achieve.
Goals can be things like learning to photograph in manual mode, selling stock images or booking your first wedding client. No matter what your goals are, I encourage you to take it a step further and create SMART goals. A SMART goal is defined as one that is;
So for each of your goals, add additional parameters to convert them to SMART goals by figuring out how to measure them, how to achieve and execute them, and what specific timeframe you want them to be completed by.
I really believe that personal projects are the cornerstone to helping you improve your photography. Once you take the pressures of working with clients out of the equation, you are free to explore, get creative, and challenge yourself. This creative freedom is bound to reflect positively on your work.
Personal projects can be short exercises directed to help you improve in some area of your photography or extended self-assigned projects that really take you completely out of your comfort zone to try something different. You can choose to space out your personal projects throughout the year – perhaps even commit to doing one per quarter.
No matter what you choose, have SMART goals on what, when, and how you are going to execute your personal projects. You can see more details on the importance of personal projects in this previous article.
One of the easiest ways to practice photography every day is by signing up for a 365 series. Quite simply put, a 365 series is a commitment to creating one photo every day for 365 days. You can use a DSLR, a point and shoot camera, or even a smartphone to work on this series.
You can even take this a step further by joining one of the many online groups available. They are created solely for the purpose of encouraging you to photograph and post a single photo every day for 365 days straight. They even provide photo prompts to help you stay on track so you are constantly thinking of what to photograph every day.
Join online groups or even local camera clubs to meet and socialize with other photographers. Many clubs have critique nights where members submit photos and comment on each other’s work. This is a great way to not only have your work be seen by others but also to get unbiased feedback on your work, which can be used for improvement and growth.
Many times we are our own worst critic and downplay our talents and skills because we are afraid or maybe lack the confidence in our photography. And you know what’s the best part? Having a group of like-minded people that you can talk photography about with all day long without them tuning you out within the first five minutes of any conversation (Can you tell this is how my family is when I start to talk photography!?).
Like most other professions, the photography industry is continually evolving and changing. New products, techniques, and styles are constantly being introduced. So attending a photography workshop or conference is a great idea.
Plus you never know who you might meet there in terms of future friends, potential clients, or even referral opportunities. There are numerous workshops, seminars, and even free online events and tutorials to keep you busy learning new things.
Keeping abreast of the latest in any business is a good thing. It shows your clients, both present, and future, that you value your business and skill, enough to invest in it.
I hope these tips were helpful to you as you plan out the year. Remember, getting your photography to a level that you are proud of takes time and a lot of hard work. Make this your year to shine with your photography.