Hokey Petes!! Its that time of year once again!!
With 2012 coming to its pleasant end, and the new year rapidly approaching, its time to sit back and ponder on our goals and visions for the upcoming rotations around the sun (which coincidentally translates to resolutions for the upcoming revolutions lolz).
Now, I know what your saying… “But Big Daddy Nick, goal setting is boring and daunting, and and…”. Au contraire mon ami!! Goals can be super fun when connected to something we love, ie. photography… or ice cream, boy do I love ice cream, but that typically goes against our other resolutions. So, whether your full on professional, amateur or a hobbyist, setting goals for your photography can take your craft, art or whatever you want to call it, to the next level in the coming 12 months and beyond!
To help you get started, Ive put together 5 areas that have helped me drastically improve my photography over the last year, which can be adopted into your goals for 2013.
1. Learn Your Gear
If you haven’t done so already, make it a point this year to take your camera off of the Auto and Program modes, and really take some time to learn how your camera works. To make the transition relatively easy, I suggest starting off in Aperture Priority Mode (Often marked as AV on your controls dial at the top of your cam), this allows you to control your depth of field (more on these topics to come in future months), while the camera still makes the rest of the decisions for you.
Learn about the different metering and focusing modes your camera sports; what each one does, and which is right for the photography you do.
Once you learn the manual controls, functions and dynamics of your camera, you will find yourself in a whole new world of creative expression. The goal here is to know your camera gear inside and out; what each button and function does, and master it to the point that you can make decisions and changes on the fly without even pulling the camera away from your face. So often we’re trying to upgrade to that next camera, that new lens, a different flash or whatever, before we even have the gear we’re currently working with figured out. Put off buying new gear, and master the stuff thats already in your hand.
2. Practice the Technicals
Similar to numero uno (Dang Son, were droppin some multi-lingual bombs today!!), take the time to learn the technical aspects of this wonderful art we call photography.
Do you know how to get a proper exposure, or even what exposure is? What part of the day has the best light for shooting? What does good light look like? What the heck was Nick talking about when he said Depth of Field?!?!
Once you get your camera down pat, its time to put it into practice and start focusing on the technical aspects of photo taking. Just knowing how to work our cameras, doesn’t promise us that our photos will be worth a darn. Learning things like exposure, composition and how to see light will help take our photos to that next level.
3. Shoot More
Its like Harrison Ford says in the latest Indiana Jones movie “If you want to be a good archeologist, you gotta get out of the library”. The only way to practice any of this is to get out there with camera in hand!
Watch out cause Im about to lay down some heavy philosophy right now… you ready for this?! Heres lifes formula for success: Go out, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, wash, rinse, repeat!!
The only way to improve in this game is to be out there shooting, clicking that shutter, burnin them pixels! You’ve gotta be willing to FAIL (gasp.. the F word). Photography aint rocket science, but at the same time its no cake walk either. Theres a lot of trial and error, meaning it takes 1 part trial and 1 part error to get you to that next level. Embrace failure and keep on shooting.
Make it a habit to take your camera with you and shoot wherever you go. Now days this is simple, as most of us have phones in our pockets at all times that rival some of todays point and shoots. Be on the prowl for good light, interesting compositions and perspectives. Shoot color, light, gesture any chance you can. Shoot Shoot Shoot!
4. Shoot Less
Wha What!?!?!? Now your just being confusing!
Since the release of the digital age, theres a nasty term in photography called “Spray and Pray”. This refers to just shooting anything and everything in hopes that one of the shots will be a keeper. Now days pixels are free, and its easy to just run around clicking that shutter at everything that moves, capturing the same scene a hundred times, hoping to get a keeper or two. DONT BE THAT PHOTOGRAPHER!
Slow down and think about your shots before pulling that trigger! Its like legendary photog Jay Maisel has said “Look at what your looking at”, meaning actually observe whats in front of your lens. Take time to line your shot up, get the right perspective, wait for the decisive moment… theeeennnn hit the shutter. Learning to see The Shot is one of the most rewarding skills you can hone when it comes to your photography. Its what sets stunning photos apart from the rest.
Not to mention you will love yourself that much more when you don’t have a billion and a half of the same photo to edit and sort through at the end of the day.
5. Get out of your Comfort Zone
If you only take one thing from this post, let it be this! Id say one of my biggest gifts in life, has always been my willingness and excitement towards constantly pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I can attribute all the victories I’ve ever experienced to this simple idea.
Make it a goal in 2013 to push your photographic boundaries. Get out there and scare your self shitless over and over, and I guarantee you, at the end of the year you’ll look back in amazement at how far you’ve come.
Try a few of these things to help burst that initial comfort zone bubble
- Go out and meet other photographers in your area, and ask them to shoot with you.
- Reach out to a photographer you admire and ask them to critique your work.
- Shoot people you don’t know (with your camera, ya psycho). Try doing a street portrait series, or even just some street photography if thats to big of a jump at first.
- Submit photos to a photography competition.
- Reach out to multiple photographers to do a personal collaboration.
- Reach out and see if you can second shoot or assist for one of the top photogs in your town.
- Shoot in MANUAL mode!! (Going back to number 1, I know it can be scary at first).
- Try new photography styles, like flash photography, sports photography, landscape, concert, etc.
- Shoot a couple rolls of film. You cant keep chimping at the back of the camera when theres no screen. This will force you to learn your settings and work in a fully manual mode.
- Take a new photographer under your wing. They say one of the best ways to learn is to teach.
So there you have it!! 5 quick ideas to get you rolling into setting goals for the new year.
Now I want to hear your thoughts!! What goals have you set already? What were the biggest growing points of your photography in 2012? Share your comments below.
OH, and be sure to follow the Nick Exposed Facebook page!! (we’ve got some fun holiday giveaways for our facebook crowd coming up later this month. hint hint)