So for this year I have a few new resolutions to go along with the standard "lose weight", "eat better", & "give up coffee" -- resolutions I will actually keep! (yeah... the "give up coffee resolution" never makes it past 10:00 am on January 1st.) These resolutions are photography related (see! way more fun than working out and sweating! And safer than having me give up coffee...) I hope they inspire you to get out there and create photos, and most importantly, have fun!
1. Work on a project.
I spend a LOT of time photographing products at work and shooting for A Different Light Photography. I don't often get to photograph just for fun. Photographing a personal project will help you grow as a photographer and keep you inspired.
There are several personal projects I'd like to work on this year. One project I have in mind is to go to the Chicago Botanic Garden and shoot only with my 50mm 1.8 lens. It's currently my least favorite lens and I never ever shoot with it. (I resolve to learn to LOVE that lens!) Another cool project I've been thinking about for this year is to photograph a certain tree/landmark/object from the Garden once a month and show the progression of this item during the year. How fun would that be?
Here are several fun projects ideas to get you started:
- Project 365- This might be the hardest, but most rewarding. To do a project 365, you commit to take a photo every day for a year. Sounds simple enough, right? This project will force you to be creative and stretch your boundaries!
- Project 52- A little less intense than taking a photo every day. With Project 52, you take a photo once a week.
- Project 12- This project features monthly themed photography. This way, you have a month to think about and plan out your photo.
- 100 Strangers-- Gather 100 portraits of complete strangers after getting their consent. A great way to overcome your shyness and to meet new people! (if you're doing this, or have done it, please let me know! i'd love to hear about your experience with this project!)
- Themed projects- Picking a single thing to focus on like macro, street photography, or shooting with only one lens will help improve your skills.
- ABC project- Find nature and man made objects that create letters of the alphabet. Or, photograph items only that being with the particular letter. This would be really fun and challenging (better keep yours eyes open for those xylophones and x-rays!)
- Choose one theme to shoot every day for a week. Maybe this week you photograph anything that is red. Next week it'll be all sorts of different doors.
Really, there are no rules. There is no pressure to finish a particular project. Bored of doing a 365? Then go right ahead and start taking photos once a week, or whatever works for you. These projects are meant to inspire and motivate you to get out there and create photographs and practice your skills.
2. Learn something new.
Even though I've been taking photos for years, there are still a TON of things I want to learn! Like how to master off camera flash, how to create those cool double exposure photos, and how to style and photograph food.
The internet has a treasure trove of resources that can help you learn nearly ANYTHING! Become BFF's with YouTube. The possibilities are endless! Want to learn how to use your brand new DLSR you got for Christmas? There's a video for that. Want to learn how to take photos of newborns, or how to make your background blurry? There's a video for that. Anything you want to learn, there is a video for it.
Here are just a few channels and websites to get you started:
3. Learn to edit your photos.
I've been working in Photoshop for years, but there are still a ton of secrets and shortcuts I have yet to learn (i still have trouble fully understanding masks....) I recently started using Lightroom to edit my personal photos and photos for A Different Light Photography and I LOVE it. It's amazing. But I only really know the basics. I would love to uncover what this baby can really do! Only have Photoshop Elements or even Gimp? No problem! There are a TON of tutorials for those too!!!
Again, Google and YouTube will be your best friends in finding resources to help you learn.
4. Organize. Organize. Organize.
You guys, I have a confession to make. I'm a digital hoarder. For real. I don't ever delete images, even the blurry and non-focused ones. (I'm not kidding. I have images taken with my first digital camera from waaaaay back in 2005. ALL. OF. THEM.) As a result, I have a several hard drives that are FULL of photos. This year, I resolve to delete the obviously less than stellar images & organize the rest in a more meaningful fashion.
This might take some time, but it'll be worth it in the end (my poor computer and hard drives will thank me!)
Check out these easy to follow tips for organizing your photos:
5. Be in the photos.
I can't stress this enough!! As the photographer of the family I bet you're always the one taking the photos, but never in them (me too!) As nice as it is to be able to capture those special moments of your family, think about how much more meaningful it is for your children (and future grandchildren!) if there are photos of you too! Don't worry if you gained a little weight over the Christmas holidays, or that you don't have a "perfect body" or you're having a bad hair day. Your kids won't even notice. What they will notice is how happy and loved they were when they see you with them. Make it a point to have professional family photos taken of you and your children every few years (your family will treasure these!) You can also DIY-- set up the tripod and self-timer on your camera. Even selfies count!
6. Print your photos.
Another resolution I can't stress enough! Your photos aren't doing anyone any good living in your computer! What good are all those family photos you have taken if you and your family can't enjoy them? Print out photo books for each year/milestone and have them displayed on your coffee table or bookcase and send them to all the grandparents. Create a photo display wall in your home of all your favorites to be the focal point of a room. Print out photos for frames and decorate your home and office with them! Send grandma a cell phone case or a tote bag with photos of the grandkids on it (She'd love that!) There are a ton of very good quality places that print photos and won't cost you an arm and a leg.
Only take photos with your smart phone? Not a problem--there are places that will print out your instagram photos.
7. Read and gather inspiration from unlikely sources.
Read/look through a ton of different magazines. Photography magazines, home decor magazines, Culinary magazines, travel magazines, etc. Look for what sort of photos catch your eye. Perhaps your next project idea will come from there. Study how the model was posed, or how she was lit. Look at how the food was arranged and what sort of table setting was used. Check out how to group lanterns and use them in your next stylized photo session. You will begin to train your eye and feed your brain!
8. Make friends and share your photos!
Join a community! Make friends with other photographers! Go ahead-- we don't bite! There are soooo many offline and online communities that you can be a part of. Not only will you meet new people and make friends, but they will help you grow as a photographer. They will push you to go beyond your comfort zone, be there to encourage you, and they are a treasure trove of inspiration and information!
Here are some great online communities:
- Flickr (I was an early adopter back in 2005. I've made several valuable and lasting friendships because of this community, and it's still my favorite.)
- Clickin Moms (I LOVE this community! So many really wonderful and friendly people here)
- Click it up a notch
- Google + (yes! there are a ton of photographers and groups here!)
Here are a few offline community ideas:
- Meetups. I bet you can find several different photography meetups in or near your city!
- Photo Walks
- Community Colleges
- Your local botanic garden or other park district might even offer photography tours.
Are you making any photography related resolutions? I'd love to hear them! Let me know in the comments section below!