Procrastination is often the name of the game when it comes to aspects of maintaining our photography. Finding time and motivation to do fun shoots should be pretty easy throughout the year, but maintenance tends to be pushed to the back burner. The holidays season can be a great time to revisit some activities that can be a huge benefit to your photography but are often things left forgotten for far too long.
Clean Your Gear
Photographers tend to obsessively clean their glass while largely ignoring everything else allowing it to slowly accumulate grime. Take some time to do a good annual cleaning of everything this holiday season and your gear will love you for it. Grab some Q-tips and carefully clean all the recesses on your camera and lenses. Take the time to empty out your camera cases and vacuum out any dust and dirt that has piled up over years of use. You could even pick up a sensor cleaning kit and carefully give your sensor a nice bath. Start 2018 with a freshly maintained set of gear to join you on your next photographic adventure.
Calibrate Your Lenses
One of the most common causes for soft images are lenses that need calibration. If you have never calibrated your lenses or if it has been a long time since you have, take some time and check the calibration of every lens and camera body you own. If your lenses are failing to accurately autofocus you will be missing huge numbers of shots that would otherwise have been in perfect focus. Make sure to always check and recheck your results to make sure human error hasn't done more harm than good.
Read Your Camera Manual
There are very few photographers who actually know everything their camera is capable of. Most photographers take a quick peek at their camera manual when the camera is first purchased then toss it on a shelf and forget about it. One of the best things you can do to improve your reliability while shooting is to spend the time to expand your knowledge of the tool in your hands. Grab a cup of hot cocoa, curl up in front of the fire, and read your camera manual from cover to cover. I guarantee you will find something that you didn't know about your camera that may come in handy during future shoots.
Watch an Online Course
There is no better time to learn something new about photography than when it is cold outside and you have an abundance of free time. Spending the time to watch a course conducted by a photographer who you respect can be a great way to both expand your skill set but also to revitalize your inspiration heading into the new year. Whether you watch a free course on YouTube or purchase a premium course from any number of great sources across the Internet, you can't go wrong by exploring new educational options. If you are looking for a great deal on some amazing courses to watch, Fstoppers is having a holiday sale on all of our tutorials that lasts until December 27.
Regardless, whatever you do, make sure to spend some time enjoying the holidays. The recharging effect of spending time with family and in a state a merriment can do wonders for the optimism that leads to creative inspiration. Sometimes the best way to become better at your craft is to focus on your own creative health so that you can start the year with a renewed focus that may have dwindled over the course of time. Have an amazing holiday season and don't forget to snap a shot or two for the scrapbooks.