Have you made your resolutions for 2019? What will you be doing to grow as a photographer and improve the quality of your work?
We all can find ourselves in a rut. Maybe you’re shooting the same subjects, in the same way, at the same places. Maybe your inspiration or creativity feels tapped out. Maybe you’ve hit a plateau and your photography isn’t improving like it used to.
January is a purely arbitrary time to reassess your photography, but it’s something we should all do every so often. So, why not a set of New Year’s resolutions?
1). Resolved: I will learn something new.
The quickest way to get out of a rut or change is to try something fresh. Learning a new post-processing technique will change the look of your photos. Trying an unfamiliar technique will change the way you shoot. Creating video content will stretch your wings.
I’ve had a luminosity masking panel and tutorials on how to use it on my computer for a half a year and haven’t managed to set aside the time to really learn how to use it. This year, I’m doing it.
2). I will learn from others . . . with purpose.
With Instagram, Vero, Facebook and You Tube, there’s no shortage of great photography to view. And that’s in addition to any local museum or gallery photography exhibits, books or magazines. Instead of just admiring interesting shots as you glance through them on your phone or computer, spend a moment with the shots that move you. Analyze them. Dissect them. See if you can figure out how the photographer created the mood, lead your eye through the frame, and processed the photo.
I like to pick up my copies of NANPA’s annual Expressions because it’s full of great photos from nature photographers, both pro and amateur, selected by a jury composed of some of the best in the business, along with interesting articles.
3). Resolved: I will get better at something I already do.
Perhaps you occasionally do macro photography, or photograph birds. Maybe you sporadically shoot intimate landscapes or insects. Possibly you seldom use your smart phone for photos. Whatever it might be, you can probably do it better. Read up on it. Take a class. View a webinar. Sign up for a workshop.
As a NANPA member, you have access to a lot of educational resources and opportunities to learn. The Members’ section of the NANPA website has an extensive collection of webinars, with new ones coming out regularly. On January 15th, Rosie Lalonde demonstrates how to bring images “From Flat to Fabulous” using Adobe ACR and Lightroom and, on January 16th, Danae Wolfe shows how you can do “Macro on a Budget: Reverse Lens Macro Photography.”
NANPA Regional Events provide focused opportunities to improve your photography and this blog has a good-sized archive of helpful articles and tips on a wide variety of nature photography subjects.
4). Resolved: I will go to a photography conference.
Conferences are a great way to pick up some concentrated photography knowledge in a short period of time. They’re opportunities to see and, perhaps, try out some of the newest gear. You can hear from great photographers and teachers, speaking on topics that can help you grow, inspire you, help you over a creative hump, or just plain entertain you. And, maybe best of all, you meet fellow nature photographers who share your passion and who can become not just colleagues with whom you can occasionally go shooting, but also friends.
You can choose from a wide array of events, from giant conferences to local and regional ones. I like the mid-sized conferences where there are enough attendees to give me the opportunity to meet a broad spectrum of other photographers, vendors, speakers and potential clients, without being overwhelming.
I’m going to Las Vegas for NANPA’s 2019 Nature Photography Summit, February 21-23. Will I see you there?
5). Resolved: I will start a project.
Projects are a great way to stretch your abilities. A 365 (a photo a day) or 52 (a photo a week) project are ways to keep you shooting, even if you’re not out in the field at your favorite locations or viewing your favorite subjects. Maybe you want to document a species, a biome or the changing environment at a location. A project based on a theme, topic or subject is a disciplined way to focus your attention and photography on exploring all aspects of your chosen issue.
In my neighborhood, there’s a stream that feeds into a creek that is part of a park. For years, I’ve had in mind photographing this stream in all four seasons and in photographing the wildlife that pop up as well as the human impact on the stream. This year I’m doing it.
Whatever your interests, strengths and weaknesses, January is as good a time as any to take stock of where you are and where you want to be. And to make a plan to put yourself on the road towards your aspirations.
What are your 2019 photography resolutions?