Another year has come and gone, and as such the time has come to reflect on the road ahead. With the New Year just a few days away, now is the best time to do some soul searching and adopt some resolutions that will help improve your photography going forward. This road is often a challenging one, based on the forever hunt for ever greater photographs. With the goal of always improving our craft in mind, these New Years resolution suggestions will help get you out to an amazing start in 2018.
Focus Less on the Technical and More on Story
Photography has such a deep technical element to it that we often let ourselves get lost in it. I am often as guilty of this as most photographers. It can be all too easy to find yourself focusing on f-stops and pixel peeping when the photo is actually suffering from poor creative direction. As photographers, our goal is not technical perfection, it is compelling storytelling through the lens. Going into 2018 I challenge you to take a step back from the technical aspects of shooting. Simplify your shoots so that the technical burden is lessened so that you can refocus on creative storytelling. Your results may be marginally less perfect but the resulting images will almost surely be more compelling.
Make a Commitment to Do as Much in Camera as Possible
As content-aware features in applications such as Photoshop become increasingly intelligent, the instinct to simply fix many issues in post continues to become stronger. This is working against the quality of your work. Sometimes fixing in post is the only option, but when it is not the better solution is almost always to get it right in camera. The vast majority of photographers began because they had a passion for creating imagery with the camera. Postproduction is simply a means to an end. Unfortunately, many photographers spend far more time sitting in front of a computer screen than looking through the viewfinder. By becoming more adept at solving as many issues as possible during the shoot you can vastly reduce the time wasted in Photoshop allowing you to focus on what you love.
Refocus Your Creative Vision Based on Your Creative Goals
When a photographer gets their first camera and initially starts shooting, everything they do is based on creative self-discovery in directions dictated by the photographer's inspiration. Unfortunately, in the beginning, we lack the technical skill to effectively execute on that vision. As time moves forward we expand our technical skill set while becoming more aware of the expectations of others in relation to what "good" photography is. These expectations tend to wear away at the pure creative inspiration that first drew us to photography. In 2018, make a point of trying to push those expectations from your mind so that you can focus on creating images based on the creative goals that you find compelling. You might find that you are able to find magic within your own style that you didn't even know existed.
Stop Letting Social Media Dictate Your Self-Worth
Social media has become a truly brutal double-edged sword for photography. On one hand, it has both empowered us with exposure opportunities as well as educational channels that have never before been available to photographers. The unfortunate downside of social media, though, is that the currency of likes and follows has a nasty tendency to become a driving force in how and what we shoot. Instead of shooting to scratch a creative itch, far too many photographers find themselves shooting so that the little counter under their name becomes a bigger number. While this can be a boon for business-minded artists, it can have a horrid impact on the motivation to create images that inspire us. Going forward make a point to maximize the positive benefits of social media while actively working to mitigate the negative impact it can have.
Happy New Years!
Don't forget to celebrate! Have fun, enjoy the holidays, and take some time to simply enjoy shooting for the sake of shooting. Let go of all the stresses of photography and simply create. Even if you never show the images to anyone, right now is a great time to leverage some time off to recharge. You never know, you may end up creating your best photo of 2017 on the eve of 2018.