One of my favorite things to do as a photographer is to set goals. It pushes me to keep shooting, while also forcing me outside of my comfort zone in order to achieve those goals. Being a wedding and family photographer, the fall is my busiest time of year. Come December I’m beyond burnt out! The thought of even picking up my camera causes an eye-rolling sign of exhaustion. In order to keep my camera from collecting dust on the shelf, while feeding my passion for photography, I like to challenge myself with photography related projects.
I can’t think of a better way to begin a fresh new year than to create a list of photography New Year’s resolutions. Looking for some ideas? If you aren’t sure where to start, here is a list of 10 realistic photography resolutions for the new year.
1. Organize Your Photos
Boring! Who has time for this? Certainly not me. I’m the worst at keeping my photos organized and backed up. Seriously. Nothing is worse than inserting an SD card to upload your photos into Lightroom only to get that dreaded message that my Mac’s startup disk is full. Then, editing paid client photos gets delayed as I spend time backing up and deleting old files to make room. There has to be a better system. And every year I make it a goal to stay on top of this. 2018 is my year (hopefully)!
2. Update Your Website/Portfolio
How often do you update your portfolio? I’m usually pretty good about adding current favorite photographs and deleting old irrelevant ones. However, I could definitely use a complete website overhaul. This is a big project but what better time than during the slow portrait season? A fresh new look for the new year would be great. When was the last time you updated your website?
3. 365 Project
I feel like the 365 project has a bad reputation. And, honestly, I agree with most of the complaints! There are people that don’t take the challenge seriously that have ruined the 365 project. People that take a quick snapshot of their lunch or something completely random without thought, just for the sake of taking a picture. Or the people that miss a day here and there but consider it a 365 anyway… yea that is called cheating and it doesn’t count! I completed a 365 in 2015 and can honestly say that it made me a better photographer in the end. Not only did it push me to pick up my camera every day but it pushed me to think creatively. Challenging myself to complete the 365 project pushed me to pay attention to the everyday beauty around me. When I got bored with that, it pushed me to plan ahead and create thought out photo shoots that otherwise would not have happened. It challenged me to make every day better than the last. Not only was the 365 project amazing for improving my photography skills, but it meant even more to me as a mother that I documented my family and our everyday activities in a way that I’ll cherish forever. Would I do it again? Hell no, but I stuck with it and did it once so that gives me some sort of badass photographer points, right?
4. Project 52
Alright, not everyone has the time or desire to take a picture every single day for a year. How about a project 52? One picture every week for a year. That is totally doable. I’ve always wanted to do a sunset 52 project. Maybe this could be my year.
5. Black and White Challenge
I love black and white photo projects. It challenges you to think more about the composition, lighting and contrast of the photograph. Plus, there is just something elegant and timeless about a nicely done black and white photo. Simply pick the duration for your black and white challenge - one day, one week, a month.
6. Buy New Gear with Photography Earnings
First of all, no one needs new gear to be a better photographer. You learn with what you have and do the best you can with it. It's the skills and talent that make a great photographer, not the gear! However if you are anything like me, there is always some new lens or camera on my wish list. When I’m dreaming of new lenses or some sort of gear that I can’t really afford, I like to make it a goal to at least book that certain number of clients it would take to pay for that gear. It’s quite a rewarding feeling to put that money right back into investing in your photography.
While new gear is always fun to have, attending a workshop may be much more beneficial than any new piece of gear. Investing your money on a workshop is money well spent. You get to learn from respected photographers, then shoot alongside with them. Added bonus, you have the opportunity to make new photographer friends while getting hands on experience that help you become a better photographer. Or perhaps you are one of the more advanced photographers and have a wealth of knowledge to share with newbies. It might be time that you start thinking about hosting a workshop of your own.
8. Learn a New Skill
Can’t afford a workshop? Check out some free tutorials on YouTube or buy a new book. In 2017, I learned to appreciate the art of film photography. Now for 2018, one of my resolutions is to learn how to comfortably utilize Photoshop. It’s always been a bit daunting to me. However, in 2017 I spent much more time getting comfortable in Photoshop. (I can actually do a thing or two without watching a tutorial - finally.) Now in 2018, it’s time to dive into it more and really expand my editing skills.
9. Travel to…
Go shoot a new location.
You don’t have to have a lot of money or to plan an exotic trip to far away lands. Look up gorgeous scenic locations within driving distance from you. Then do some research on that area and plan out a photography trip. Even if it is just a short day trip.
10. Create a Bucket List
A year is plenty of time to complete at least one New Year’s resolution. Creating a photography bucket list is a simple and fun task. Plus, you can keep adding to your list throughout the years. You don’t have to complete it in 2018 - but start a list and do at least one thing from it.
Are you starting out 2018 with new photography goals? I’m always looking for more ideas, and I’d love to hear about your photography goals for 2018.
Cheers and well wishes to everyone for a very Happy New Year!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erika Sneeringer is a litigation paralegal and hobbyist photographer living in Baltimore, Maryland USA. Outside of photography, her favorite activities are hiking and exploring the outdoors with her family. You can view Erika’s portfolio here.