It’s almost that time again! Yet another year is drawing to a close and a brand new year is about to begin. Now is the time to start thinking about what you’d like to accomplish in the year to come. In what ways do you hope you’ll be a better person living a better life by this same time next year? Even more importantly, how do you hope to be a better photographer?
If you’ve been a photographer for long, then the chances are pretty good that you’ve made the resolution to “shoot more” a time or two in the past. You may even have followed through. However, it’s important to realize that there’s a difference between simply shooting more frames and actually improving as far as the quality of your work.
The following are just a few resolution ideas that are pretty much guaranteed to make you a better photographer. Which ones will you be adding to your list this year?
- Focus on one specific aspect of your photography to improve.
You’re a lot more likely to nail a given goal if you’re specific as far as what you’re looking to accomplish. Instead of simply vowing to become a better photographer, identify one specific technique you’d like to work on, one weakness you’d like to overcome, or one strength you’d like to build on.
Maybe you’re a portrait photographer that wants to be better at shooting couples or children. Perhaps you’re already a professional photographer, but could stand to be better at marketing or bookkeeping. It doesn’t matter what you choose. Just make it specific.
- Assign yourself a long-term project to work on.
Unplanned trips out and about to see what you can find to shoot are always fantastic. However, there’s definitely something to be said for long-term projects that call for planning and forethought as well.
Long-term projects help keep you motivated. They also ensure that you’ll have something to shoot for a long time to come. They help you develop your ability to tell poignant stories through your photography. Plus, the feeling of accomplishment you get upon completing something you’ve been working on for a while is tough to beat.
Your project can be anything so long as it’s capable of holding your attention on a sustained basis. It should also be something that encourages you to push yourself as a photographer, but not so tough as to be unrealistic.
- Develop your ability to analyze other people’s photographs.
Have you ever thought about the sheer number of photographs you see over the course of a single day? Photos really are everywhere these days – on social media, in advertising, and all over the web. What you may not be as aware of is the way each and every one of them represents an opportunity to become a better photographer.
Try becoming more aware when it comes to the photos you see over the course of this coming year. When you see something you like, take a moment to consider which lens may have been used, how it was lit, and so forth. Do the same with photos you don’t like. Try to identify what about those images doesn’t work and think about how they could have been approached differently.
- Focus on ways you can make better use of criticism.
Feedback is an important part of becoming your best at anything creative, photography included. It’s also never been simpler to get feedback on what you do thanks to social media. However, there’s criticism that’s constructive and worthwhile, as well as criticism that is anything but.
This year, look for ways you can better evaluate the sources of the criticism you receive on your work. You want honest, informed feedback from people you can trust and respect, not random trolls or sour haters – feedback that you can use to truly improve. Focus on how you can get feedback like that and learn to tune out the rest.
It’s also well worth your while to work on your ability to give criticism and feedback. Practice offering other photographers real insight as to what is and isn’t working in their shots instead of simply saying “great shot”. Also, make sure the criticism is actually wanted before you give it.
- Work on upping your game when it comes to post-editing.
If you’re like a lot of photographers, you love the feeling that comes along with filling your entire memory card with shots. What you may not love so much is the process of sorting through all those photos, organizing them, and post-editing the ones that are worth keeping. However, it’s important to realize that the ability to post-edit like a pro is what often separates a so-so photographer from a truly good one.
Streamline the process for yourself by ditching shots that are even a little bit out of focus or off the mark. Then edit the rest in stages. (Note, if you’ve accidentally shot on RAW and can’t open your files, use an online Image Converter to convert them to JPG) Once you complete one edit, walk away for a while, and then come back to the set later so you can look at it with a fresh eye. Work on creating and maintaining a better organizational system for all of your shots as well.
- Look for ways you can improve your approach to photo sharing.
It goes without saying that photo sharing via social media is an important part of any serious photographer’s overall approach to his craft. However, with so many options out there vying for your attention, settling on a really good strategy is pretty challenging.
If you don’t already have your own dedicated website and you’re truly serious about your photography, set one up this year. You’ll also want to get organized as far as what you post on social media, where you post it, and when you post it. Consistency and forethought are the keys to success here. Lay out some guidelines and a posting schedule for yourself. Then stick to it.
If you’re a professional, having the right photo sharing strategy in place only becomes more important. Make this year the year you fully explore the possibilities!