You've likely heard this from me before. Photography is a never-ending journey of learning, practice and growth. January can be a tough time of the year. The joy in the holiday season is over, many of us are still under COVID-19 health restrictions, and up here in the northern hemisphere, winter has us in her cold and icy grasp. It's often expected that resolutions and goals should be set with a new year, but sometimes setting photography goals is a tough thing to do, especially coming out of a year like 2020. Despite the challenges you may be facing during this time of the year, I want to encourage you to adopt this tip this year as I guarantee it will help you become a better photographer.
Before you set any goals, keep this advice in mind, don't set yourself up for failure. I love to dream big. I have grand ideas and big plans. However, I also like to see the results of my daily efforts in my photography journey. When I don't, it's likely that at some point, I'll feel defeated when I don't see big results.
I have learnt that the smaller the goals set, the better. Small goals are attainable, and when I see results, I keep moving forward instead of getting stuck in a rut of overwhelm and feelings of defeat.
With small goals, every step you take forward in your learning will build upon the previous, and although it may take time, all goals take time, you will see results. This will help you stay engaged in your learning, which will result in you becoming a better photographer this year.
The secret to you becoming a better photographer is really is that simple. Only set small attainable goals.
To help spark a few ideas about how you can become a better photographer this year, I've listed below a few ideas about goals you might want to set for yourself as you work towards improving your photography this year.
Set your exposure triangle settings thoughtfully
Are you constantly underexposing or overexposing your images?
Learn how to take control of your camera in manual mode to capture well-exposed images. Images that are well exposed will be of higher quality straight out of the camera. They will also require less time and effort in post-processing, which in my books results in less frustration and more enjoyment in photography.
Learn about how light influences mood
Did you know that light plays a large role in the mood and emotional feeling within an image?
Before you capture images of your life this year, think about the mood of the light present in a scene. Consider how the light feels and what emotion the light might infuse into a scene. Make an effort to use light in a way that compliments the emotional mood you are capturing within your photography. Cohesive mood and lighting will help you capture stronger visual images and strengthen your frame's message or story.
Use composition with the intention
Did you know that thoughtfully composing your images will help you create stronger images and contribute to your growth as a photographer?
Thoughtful composition requires you to slow down and imagine the outcome of an image. Photographs taken with intention will help you develop your style as you infuse your vision for your everyday moments with purpose into your photography. Take your finger off your shutter and think about what you'd like to capture and how you can capture that moment in a visually strong way.
Do something that you are not comfortable with
Did you know that stepping outside your comfort zone as a photographer will help you become a better photographer?
You may or may not know that I have an enormous passion for landscape photography in addition to capturing the everyday moments of my children. Years ago, I became inspired by other landscape photographers and thought I'd give this genre a try, as capturing landscapes seemed like something I might enjoy due to my love of nature and the considerable amount of time I spend in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Fast forward several years later, and indeed landscape photography and I are a perfect match. But it's not just my enjoyment of landscape photography that I've seen grow over the years. It's also the many ways it's influenced and contributed to my growth as a general photographer.
Try something you are not comfortable with, and it doesn't have to be as grand as dabbling in a whole new genre. Exploring something you are not comfortable with can be as simple as watching a free online video about a post-processing technique you'd like to learn more about or renting and trying a lens you're interested in or using a prism, glass or even a piece of lace creatively in your images. All these simple efforts will help you become a better photographer.
In my experience, I often see photographers struggling with their development or finding themselves lost in a rut simply because they set goals that are too large and want to see the big and noticeable results. The truth is growth as a photographer most often comes slowly. You see, there is no finish line in your development as a photographer if you are committed to becoming a better photographer and dedicated to your learning. This year, set goals that are small and attainable because you will become a better photographer by doing so.
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