Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m going to do one of these, unlike my personal life in which I never do, because I think it’s important as a photographer. It’s a good excuse to review what you’ve done in your career; whether that’s examining your own abilities, discovering some regrets from past shoots, or lessons you’ve picked up along your travels. You should always have something you want to try or improve on. I don’t know a single photographer who is perfectly happy with their abilities, and I know I’m far from being happy with my images. There’s a lot more I want to try, much more that I need to learn, and certainly a lot to improve on.
Here’s my list!
- Take risks. I play it safe with a lot of my shoots. I do what I know I can, I’ll try a little something different if it’s not a paid gig, but I never really try something drastic. Whether that’s lighting, composition, or even posing my models, I need to really experiment and push my own boundaries. Otherwise, I’ll never grow as a photographer.
- Buy a 5D Mark III. It’s inevitable that a photographer who makes money from this activity doesn’t get a full frame camera at some point. Will this camera make me a better photographer? Doubtful, and I don’t think it’ll be significant if it does. However it will add another tool to my kit to help me reach the final product that I can see in my head. Plus, I’ll stop swearing under my breath when I have to shoot above ISO 800.
- Communicate better. I’m a quiet guy by nature; just who I am. But as a photographer who works with people, I’ve learned that you have to constantly communicate with your subject to let them know what to do and make them feel comfortable. My issue is that I’ll review the images on my LCD, think to myself, make some adjustments, and my subject will be standing there twiddling their thumbs either getting bored, losing the required pose/expression, or wondering if they’re doing something wrong. To fix this, I try talk to my subject about what I’m changing and why. It generally helps them understand the “look” I’m going for and keeps them relaxed. Keeping up the constant flow of communication is key. Another area of improvement is communicating for posing. Now, I’m no master at posing people and that’s something I plan to work on as well. Knowing what pose I want will be useless though if I can’t accurately communicate what’s in my head.
- Expand my business. This year was the first major step for growing as a paid photographer. I made this website, got business cards, and started making contacts through friends. Now it’s time to really push out. I laid the groundwork for one major avenue by accepting several wedding shoots during the 2014 year. From what I’ve heard, wedding photographers are hired more from word-of-mouth, so I got to start somewhere, right? I’m planning on expanding my sport photography side by advertising to some local groups as well. See if they want a staff photographer who can offer certain deals. Thirdly, I’m going to push on my friends and their contacts to get into family/senior portraits. It’s a common thing now to get pictures upon graduating high school or even college. It’s also a great source for return customers. Finally, I need to start charging what I’m worth. I undersell myself, and that needs to be fixed. To be taken seriously, I need to charge the appropriate amount for the work I’m delivering. It’s a scary notion because I may lose customers, but I know it’ll only improve my future clientele and the gigs I land.
- Be confident. This applies to my personal work, and builds a bit upon the Take Risks line. I have a ton of ideas in my head that I want to try, but I haven’t pushed on them because I’m worried and scared about wasting someone’s time with my inability to translate what’s in my head into something everyone can see. I just got out of college and I’m trying to balance college loans, living expenses, building a savings account, and still having money to enjoy a life. It’s expensive to hire a model just so I can try an idea. That means my friends turn into my guinea pigs and I hate giving them substandard images. To fix this, I need to understand that growth in an art isn’t easy and I’m hardly ever going to get something right on the first try. However, I need to be confident in the abilities I do possess and use that to keep pushing and expanding my photography.
So that’s my list. Everything on there is totally doable, even if only one has a truly tangible result. That’s fine though because being tangible means there’s an end. Working on exploring, my business, and being confident are acts that will help me as a person and will be continual things to improve on as a photographer. I never want to stop wanting more from my images because that’ll be the day I’m either tired of photography or have stopped making great images.