Clichéd new year resolutions are as much of a tradition of the holidays as building snowmen and eggnog. Why not change things up a bit this year and set yourself a resolution which is related to helping you grow as a photographer. Here are 10 promises worth trying to keep in 2018.
There is something about the start of a new year which can be very motivational. If January 1 feels like the chance to draw a line in the sand and move forward, then making a resolution can be a great foundation for you to start the year on. As worthwhile as many of these typical promises we make ourselves are, have you ever thought about setting yourself a photography related resolution? Before you decide to recycle that run-of-the-mill resolution from last year, maybe it's time to shift focus to something which will not only help your photography career but is something you may actually stand a chance of seeing through.
1. Reach Out to People or Clients
This is a great resolution to make as it doesn't take up the whole year and due to its time-sensitive nature needs to be completed fairly quickly. I recently talked about using promotional material leading up to Christmas as a way to break the ice with people and companies you may want to connect or reconnect with. As Christmas is well behind us why not take the opportunity of the new year to wish those same contacts all the best for 2018. The huge benefit of sending something out after Christmas is you are not competing with the barrage of mail people receive in December. If you do decide to make this your resolution make sure you get on with it as being wished all the best for the new year in March is not the best metaphor for your businesses' punctually.
2. Blow the Cobwebs Off Your Website
If you haven't done anything with your website for a while, make early 2018 the time you decide to update yours. Sometimes not looking at your images for a while can really help you to see your own work with fresh eyes. If there's anything on your site which you feel no longer represents who you are as a photographer then it may be time to make some serious edits. There's no better motivation to produce new additional work when you have gaps that need filling on your site. Even if things are not as drastic as that you still may decide to swap a few images around which can be enough to give returning visitors something new to look at. If all that wasn't enough of an excuse to work on your website, Google tends to look more favorably at websites which are updated more often so make some changes and give yourself some extra SEO.
Don't forget to change all the copyright notices you have on your website to include 2018. There is no bigger clue that the work on your website is a few years old when your pages say: “Copyright 2002-2013.”
3. Stop Buying New Kit
How about making 2018 the year you don't buy a single piece of camera gear. If you fall into the camp of having more than enough cameras and lenses to last a lifetime why not make a conscious effort not to get caught up in the never-ending arms race to own new camera equipment. I recently wrote how I managed to create a 150-megapixel photograph on a 10-year-old camera and I'm sure many of you have much newer cameras than that. Enjoy what you already own; I'm sure it's more than capable of producing great images.
Not only will this resolution hopefully break you out of an expensive and unnecessary habit, but it will free up funds which you can spend on things which will actually improve your pictures for the better. Being able to travel to interesting places, hiring props or locations out, or paying to use the most talented models or actors in your town are what help to make great work. It doesn't matter how good the dynamic range is on your new Nikon, if you have to make compromises on what is in front of the camera as you have blown your savings on new gear then don't be surprised that your pictures don't have that extra something that turns them from good to great.
4. Sell Your Old Kit
Continuing on from the previous resolution of not buying any new equipment in the new year, make 2018 the time you sell any old kit that is collecting dust. I'm not condoning that you sell any precious backup camera bodies, but if you have any gear that you really don't need make it a priority to sell it as soon as you can. Time really is of the essence for a lot of the items you may be holding onto as the next wave of camera and lenses are always just around the corner to drive the resale price of your older gear down. If you really haven't used something in a while make the new year the time get rid of it. Saying that, just before you hit eBay, it may be worth holding on at least a month or two for this resolution as most people's bank balances are not the healthiest right about now.
5. Backup Your Digital Life
It still surprises me how many creatives still don't have a good backup strategy in place for all their digital work. Experts say you should have a least a 3-2-1 data policy in use for everything that is important to you. If you still haven't got around to this and you think a hard drive failure will never happen to you then think again. I've seen many photographers lose years worth of work as they only had one copy on a drive which stopped working. Even if you're very lucky and are able to recover some of your precious images off a damaged hard drive, it's never guaranteed and it's always incredibly expensive for a professional to do it. Save yourself a headache and make 2018 the year you sort your digital life out for once and for all.
6. Up Your Rates
This one will vary from industry to industry, but the new year is a good moment to up your rates. Personally, I favor the financial year for this increase, but I know many creatives who do it on January 1. As mentioned at the start of this article, the new year is a time to draw a line in the sand and move forward. It's very easy for you to keep your rates at the same amount for many years, but as the cost of everything increases so too should your rates. If you get into the habit of doing it at the same time each year it won't be as much of a shock to your clients either. Consistent incremental changes in price are easier for people to swallow than unexpected large hikes.
7. Spend Less
If you have been neglecting your finances for a while make your new years resolution to finally get them in order. I have already talked at great length about how reducing your outgoings as a photographer will actually strengthen your hand when it comes to what work you have to do. It may seem like an obvious one, but by reducing your outgoings you really do give yourself much more freedom to steer your career in the right direction. Even if photography isn't currently your main job, by cutting out unnecessary spending you may actually realize that turning professional is a viable option.
8. Start Printing Out Your Work More Often
This is a nice resolution which I hope many of you will take on. I don't believe photographers print their work out enough and it is one of the most rewarding and important acts you can do for your practice. I have previously written about the many benefits of printing your own work and how it can really help you to be a better photographer and retoucher. For those of you who may be currently lacking the confidence or motivation to even pick up a camera again, try printing out a few of your favorite images big and enjoy them in your home for a while. I get such a kick out of printing my work out and I think you will too. It might just be that jolt you were looking for to rekindle your love for the medium.
9. Start Watching the Jobs Market
It doesn't matter if you are employed or self-employed, getting a start on watching the jobs market in your industry is a great habit to begin in 2018. Even if you are happy in your current situation, keeping an eye on what is advertised out there you will help yourself to understand the market better, be able to see trends sooner, and avoid the clients who seem to go through staff at an alarming rate. I have a jobs app on my phone which I check once a day. It literally takes me 30 seconds to do, and as a result I have noticed some interesting patterns and avoided some serious headaches along the way. Check out my previous article on what additional benefits watching the jobs market can bring.
10. Work Out an Idea Management Strategy
One of the most important things any creative must work out is what is the best way for them to document their ideas. If you don't currently have a home for your thoughts or just try to hold onto everything in your head then you could be seriously hindering your progress as a creative photographer. If you missed my recent piece on the various ways you can help yourself to be more creative and productive then go check it out. Make the new year a good excuse to change the way you document, organize, and prioritize your ideas better. The act of getting your thoughts out of your head effectively is one of the best resolutions you could make creatively.
So there you have it, 10 resolutions worth considering as a photographer in 2018. I truly hope some of the ideas mentioned have been of inspiration to you in some shape or form. The main reason I wanted to write this article was to offer an alternative to the many new years pieces you will no doubt be bombarded with online in the coming days. While resolutions such as "going to the gym more often" or "eating more healthily" are worthwhile, making a resolution which is related to photography will probably not only be more beneficial for many years to come it is probably a promise you are much more likely to keep.
Do you have any more photography related resolutions that you think should be on the list? I'd love to hear them in the comments below.
Lead image originally by StockSnap from Pixabay.