Firstly let me say that I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas break and received everything they asked for and have dreamt of, if you didn’t get what you asked for, you can always save up for it and the buy it as a gift for yourself. Well hasn’t 2011 flown by and I must say that this year has been by far the busiest year that I have had in some time, I have managed to spend months away from home photographing ordinary people doing extraordinary things. With all of this time away I was really looking forward to the Christmas break to be able to collapse on the couch, enjoy a few quiet beers and spend some valuable time with family before 2012 kicks off. Now New Years Eve is literally just around the corner and you are probably starting to think about what your resolutions for 2012 are going to be and I bet the usual suspects will stick their heads up like they do every year.
Here are a few of those resolutions that are muttered on New Years Eve, this list is by no means endless, please feel free to add yours in the comments section.
1. Stop eating bad food and start eating healthy food,
2. Quit Smoking,
3. Save $5000 for a cruise or a holiday
4. Spend time with your Grandparents, and
5. Spend more time with your family, and that includes the annoying little Brother or Sister (if you are the little Brother or Sister, umm, sorry about that, I was hoping someone had told you by now).
Your resolutions may look very different than what I have listed but many people see New Years Eve resolutions that is something that can be broken very easily, in most cases there isn’t any harm done at all but these resolutions are more than just resolutions, they are goals that you set yourself for the next 12 months, some of these goals can be very easy and be achieved in a very short time frame or they can be something that you have to work at on a daily basis but have you ever considered what that photographer deep within you might have for New Years Eve resolutions, have you ever asked yourself what would you like to achieve with your photography over the next twelve months, either as a enthusiast or even as a Pro.
The following are some goals (resolutions) to give you an idea as to where you may want to take your photography in 2012 and please remember these are just my ideas, please feel free to delete and insert your own or leave a comment and suggest a few more, I am open to ideas and I may adopt a few myself for 2012.
1. Get off of Auto Mode on your DLSR.
This can be very scary for some people as their is some technical knowledge that needs to be learned, then you need to learn what your cameras limitations are and what your limitations are when using Manual mode. I understand as to why people don’t want to do this, I was there once as well but remember your purchased a DSLR to better yourself as a photographer and to hopefully take better photos. Using the camera in Manual mode gives you the power to use the camera as it was designed and you now have that power in your hands (or at your fingertips) as to what the photo will look like once you have taken it but remember this a learning phase. Most of the answers as to how to use your camera are in the instruction manual that come with your camera when it was purchased either by you or the person who gave it to you as a gift. This is a goal that can be achieved in a short period of time, such a 1 to 2 months possibly.
2. Take a Photography Class.
I have undertaken several classes for my photography and they are a great way to improve, they are fun and the hour or two that I have spent doing them has resulted in me learning a lot of techniques that I didn’t know before hand. Photography classes cover things like the basics of using your new DLSR through to composition, shooting weddings, landscapes, night photography and portraits. Do a Google search for Photography courses/classes in your area and you may well be surprised how many there are and how affordable they can be.
3. Shoot in RAW format
If you are not doing this already you should probably start shooting in RAW format. If you are currently shooting in JPEG and you take a photo, that image is ready for printing or sharing on social media platforms immediately however shooting in RAW Format requires you to have special software to process your images and is not ready for printing or sharing. There is a load of software available nowadays to process RAW files, and most of these programs are not overly expensive either, two examples that leap to mind are Lightroom or Aperture but there are many more available as well. You can do a lot more with your images when you are shooting in RAW format such as adjust your exposure, sharpen the image and provide you with ability to print in larger formats however there are many more options available. If you are not shooting in RAW format you should consider doing so as it can provide you with a lot more versatility that JPEG. I recommend doing some research on the subject to assist you in making your decision to/ not to switch. There are 1000’s of results when searching Google using keywords ‘RAW vs JPEG’.
4. Start a Project
These are a great way to improve your photography from when your start. These projects can be something like the 365 day project where you take a photograph a day for 365 days, sounds daunting I know but obviously this is a project that you need to dedicate yourself to undertaking everyday, regardless of how you feel or what the weather is doing. Please remember that when starting out on this type of project that the photos you take in the early stages don’t need to be full of awesomeness but rather this is a way of you improving your photography slowly over the course of 365 days, You will also learn the limitations of your camera and yourself. The best way to do this is to take your camera everywhere you go, and I do mean EVERYWHERE, for example: you walk to work or catch the bus to work, the camera goes with you (Street Photography), you go to dinner with friends, the camera goes with you (opportunity for long exposures, low light photography). By the end of the project you will see a huge improvement from when you started and if you don’t finish the 365 day project because Life got in the way, as it does from time to time, don’t beat yourself up over it, Have a look at what you have taken and see if there is any improvement. I would bet that if you managed to keep at it for 3 months (90 days = 90 photos) there would be an improvement that you hadn’t noticed before.
5. Do a Self Portrait.
This is similar to starting a project but the idea is to take a portrait of yourself either everyday or once a week/month and learn from how you did it and this increases your knowledge of photography, in particular portrait photography. However if you are like me, my creative side has been crushed and suppressed for so long now that I need to dig deep to find it but doing a self portrait project can be fun way to become creative and ultimately learn from it as well.
You will also learn how to direct people in front of a camera such as how to sit, look and where to look, have a good understanding of facial expressions, and from this you will start to see interesting expressions on peoples faces even when you are walking down the street and you will wonder how you are going to take their photo !
Note: These two photos are of me simply mucking around with my camera and a flash off to one side with the camera set on a timer, and the hardest part was coming up with something new every time I was in front of the camera. I still feel like a fool doing it every time but I did it and the results weren’t to bad at all.
6. Read/ Start a Blog, and
Starting a blog is very easy to do, especially with wordpress where this blog is hosted, however blogging gives you the opportunity to keep a record and the progress of your project. Blogs can also attract others who are undertaking a similar project and inspire you as you continue as well but remember that starting a blog and running it is a long term goal for the year. You can always learn by posting to your blog the results from your project and then search for other blogs that have similar content to yours which will help you gain inspiration or ideas for you to keep going. There is a wealth of resources out there on Blogs. WordPress started a project at the begininning of 2011 which encouraged people to Post a Day 2011 or Post a Week 2011 on their blogs. Guess which one I signed up for…..Post a Day 2011 and I failed but I am posting once a week which is pretty good.
7. Join Google+ and close your Facebook account.
What, what is Google +, My life is on Facebook and so are all of my friends!, honestly what are you thinking, are you off your meds, have you missed your regular appointment with your therapist? I hear you say.
Sorry Guys, to me Facebook is dead, I don’t nor have I ever found this social media platform to be in any shape or form inspiring or for that matter, easy to use, In fact I don’t like Facebook at all, I currently use it because its a necessary evil in todays world. My Wife and Son assist me with Facebook as I am unable to find all the required buttons to be able to navigate the site easily, it becomes rather frustrating at times. Further there are to many advertisements that run down the side of the page plus there is no Dislike Button for posts that your so called friends have put up, remember they are the friends that you didn’t like originally and now you are friends with them because both of you are on Facebook, Facebook should have a Dislike Button for all of those non-original content posts. Sorry I got side tracked there for a bit.
Something you should consider is having a good close look at Google +, this new social media platform has the worlds photographers walking past your door, not you walking past their door where you are unlikely to find them which is not the way it should be. There are a multitude of brilliant photographers posting original content everyday which you are able to view and commet on. Google + main page has a clean crisp look to it and it is easy to use as you group everybody into Circles which gives you the ability to see posts from that circle only. For example if I want to see posts from Street Photographers only and I have grouped photographers into that category, that’s the stream (news feed) I click on and thats all you but if you want to see all of the Stream, click on Stream (News Feed) and simply scroll down and gasp in awe at the amazing photography. Even if you don’t want to sign up for it, do a search using Google+ for Photographer or Photography and you will be pleasantly surprised by the content available and if Photography is not for you and you have something else in mind, say Politics (Boring) do the same and do a Google + search. Check it out as it certainly worth your time.
I hope that these 7 resolutions (goals) give you some ideas as to where you want to take your photography in 2012 and please remember that these are just my ideas, I would love to hear what other ideas you think of to help with your photography in 2012.
Happy Shooting in 2012.