For many people, a new year signifies the perfect opportunity to hit the reset button — a time for a fresh start, the freedom to try something new, a chance to improve upon something.
Heading into the new year, if it is your goal to be a better, smarter, more productive photographer, here are seven very simple-to-follow ideas that will propel you along that path.
Focus Less On Gear
Being a gear nerd seems to go hand in hand with being a photographer. There’s nothing wrong with that. There’s no harm in keeping abreast of the latest innovations and advancements in image-making technology.
Trouble arises from constantly trying to incorporate all that new stuff into your workflow. Photography is already an expensive pursuit and insisting on upgrading your camera every 6 months is going to bankrupt you.
Even if money were no issue, trapping yourself in a revolving door of upgrades and brand changes is only going to stifle your creativity. Before you know it, you might find yourself spending more time talking about gear than actually using it.
Give Secondhand A Chance
Since we’re discussing gear…why not save as much money as you can when you do need to make a purchase? You can potentially save hundreds of dollars by buying used. It won’t be the very newest models, but pretty close. Not that it matters too much, considering the feature list doesn’t tend to change drastically from one generation of camera body to the next.
You can put the money you save toward some other useful extras like batteries or memory cards.
Avoid The Temptation To Shoot Everything Wide Open
I don’t know who/what to blame for this trend — YouTube? Instagram? I suppose it doesn’t really matter. To be sure, fast primes certainly have their place in photography, and you should have one in your kit.
But get familiar with some of the aperture settings besides f/1.2. No matter how dreamy the bokeh, you’ll run into some problems (both technical and aesthetic) when you’re always shooting wide open. Problems that can be avoided by stopping down every once in a while.
Use Social Media On Your Own Terms
So many photographers sign up for a social media account, eager to share their work and make a name for themselves, only to find that things don’t really work the way they expected.
Social media, at its core, is a popularity contest. So even if you’re sharing your best work, you’re not going to garner more attention than the cool kids — the jet setters, the bikini models, the fashionistas.
Find your audience and find contentment.
Don’t Buy Into The Full Frame Hype
Not that the “hype” completely devoid of truth, it’s just that the benefits of a full-frame camera are lost on many photographers. Having a full-frame camera is no indication of one’s skill level or professional status. You can usually get everything you need in a smaller, lighter, more affordable crop sensor camera.
Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
The best way to push your creativity is to force yourself to do something you’re not used to. Whether it’s applying a new technique to work or altogether trying a new type of photography, you owe it to your creative self to see what artistic secrets are buried within you.
Connect With Other Photographers
For some people, this alone might count as getting out of your comfort zone. If you’re anything like me, you tend to view photography as a solitary pursuit. But I’ve found that it’s nice to work with a partner sometimes.
In fact, it’s more than just nice, it can be inspiring and educational having someone to exchange ideas with. Just be sure to find someone whose company you enjoy and who won’t impede your productivity.
I realize that “becoming a better photographer” is quite an open-ended concept. This means different things to different people. The suggestions above are there simply to give you a starting point and to get your own ideas bubbling to the surface.
Happy shooting this year!