3 Photography New Years Resolutions That You Should Break On January 2nd

The magnificence of 2016 is about to come to and end and with it comes a throng of New Years resolutions, most of which will be broken by mid next week. Many New Years resolutions, however, are quite useful and beckon for positive change, while others can be more damaging than beneficial. Today we are going to take a peek at some of the most common, and also most useless new years resolutions that seem to come about each year.

365 Projects

Who doesn't love a good 365 project? For those who don't know, a 365 project is a commitment to capture at least one new photograph each day all year. Personally, I believe 365 projects are a complete waste of time and effort that do more harm to a photographer than good. A great photographer is born by his or her passion for creating great photos. 365 projects don't foster this passion, rather, they transform photography into a chore. Moreover, for most photographers it simply isn't feasible to create a new image within their chosen genre each day and thus the vast majority of 365 projects tend to be dominated by daily snapshots of whatever happens to be easily accessible on a given day. They don't push the photographer to try new things and there is very little challenge to improving one's skill set. 

Instead, I implore you to opt for a more meaningful challenge that actually is poised to improve your photography. For example, perhaps challenge yourself to create at least one image each month that is worthy of bumping another image out of your portfolio. Or another might be to challenge yourself to learn one new relevant technique each month that you actually use to create images within your respective field of photography.

Arbitrary Unprompted Change

These sorts of resolutions tend to be more or less driven by a feeling that change is needed for the sake of change. An example might be making the commitment to only shoot with prime lenses or to only shoot with available light. The specifics of the change don't really matter, rather, it is the choice to make a massive change for no other reason than the feeling that change is needed. Instead, invest time in evaluating your beliefs, ideas, and processes to ascertain if change is actually needed and if so develop a solid, concrete reason for the change before piling it onto your list of resolution.

Buying New Gear

I like to think of this one as the "secret" resolution. No one ever really going into the new year openly committing to buy droves of new equipment. Instead it is more of a subconscious resolution brought on by a combination of post Christmas sales, gift cards, or end of year bonuses. Whatever the reason, be very careful. More gear will not make you a better photographer unless buying that gear has a very specific purpose related to a technical problem that you acutely are aiming to solve. Don't rush out to collect a myriad of useless gear simply because you can. Instead, bank that cash to save it for when you know exactly what gear you need, and why. 


New Years resolutions often turn out to be quite the disaster. When choosing yours, take great effort in making sure that any photography related goals that you set are actually posed to improve your experience within the craft of photography. Don't fret if you can't think of any, a resolution isn't critical. Better to have no resolutions at all than resolutions that will actively work against you. And never forget, a resolution, like any other goal, if left unfulfilled can often be a drain upon motivation as it can ignite feelings of failure, don't set resolutions that are unachievable.


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Markus Konow's picture

Great article. However, I don't agree with you on the 365 projects. For those of us who aren't professional photographers, I think that it is a great way of forcing yourself to use the camera, even when you don't think you have time because of work and so on.

Anonymous's picture

I guess this one depends on where you are, photographically. When you're trying to master your gear and photographic principles or develop a style, I suppose a 365 project would be useful. When you're trying to develop your vision of the world or a specific genre of photography, not so much. In that case, taking mediocre photos (which would be unavoidable) could become a bad habit. Maybe.

Dave McDermott's picture

I never did like the idea of a 365 project. I think creating one image each month that is worthy of bumping another image out of your portfolio is a much better idea. My only resolution for 2017 is to try different lighting techniques as I have been using the same setup for a while now.

Ralph Hightower's picture

I've never done a 365 and I don't think I could do a unique photo every, single day in my everyday life; although I am not a professional photographer, I do carry a camera with me to work. With three cameras, one digital, one loaded with B&W film, and the other with color film, the logistics of a 365 is a bit much.

I did have two projects in 2012: 1) photograph the sunrise on the equinoxes and solstices and 2) photograph the full moons rise and set. There was one resolution for 2012: photograph the year exclusively with B&W film. 2012 was a year of experimentation, learning to use the B&W contrast filters; it took about three months before I was able to visualize in B&W.

Not buy new gear? Well, I do need to buy a flash and a telephoto zoom that's longer than 105mm.
I'm also on the lookout for used lenses and accessories for my Canon FD SLRs.

Dan Crowther's picture

While I get the idea of pushing boundaries with a 365 day or 52 week photo project, I found that by the end of the year I was pretty well spent creatively and didn't do much of anything with photography for the next year and a half. So although I explored new areas of photography and increased my skill level during that year, overall it probably wasn't worth it given the following 1-1/2 year lack of motivation it caused.

Joe Edelman's picture

Great advice Ryan! My New Year's Resolution.... Help eliminate Zombie Photographers!!! https://youtu.be/V6nuR20hyJU

Andrew Feller's picture

It's not even 2017 yet and:
- my wife told me my 365 project was stupid so ditched that idea... she suggested instead that I plan a photo trip as it's a better use of my (very little) free time.
- changed my mind 3 times over about the changes I think I should make to better my pursuits... gonna hold steady and keep at it, so my change is to not change
- bought more gear today, and already planning for more 😬

Motti Bembaron's picture

Excellent article! I agree 100% with the 365 projects, never understood this nonsense projects.