Here we go again with another trip around the sun completed! For all our ups and downs, we made it though 2012. Some cultures and nations, such as the Chinese, have yet to have their new year and were it not for the Julian Calendar, I would probably be in work tomorrow having just another, typical day.
I have never been quite sure if, on New Year’s Eve, I should be celebrating reaching the end of a year or rejoicing in the possibilities of a new one. I guess they go hand in hand really.
2012 wasn’t a particular bad year for me. In fact it was pretty good by any standards! I took a holiday in the Middle East which was amazing and returned to part-time education to study photography. The pressure and work-life balance was and remains a struggle however so this won’t be the last year I’ll have a welcome Christmas break, all going well!
I gave up making New Year’s Resolutions years ago, when I realised that anything I could hope to do, quit, enjoy [insert verb of choice] should probably be undertaken sooner rather than later.
Maybe just ‘do better’ is a good way to commence a year. With that in mind, here’s a list of things I will keep at the fore of my mind. They are not items that I have recently discovered, so much as those which I sometimes undervalue. I don’t think that a resolution list for photographers is a good thing anyway. A photographer should already be doing these kind of things.
1. Learn how to use my gear
Surely I know how to use my equipment, from camera(s), lenses and software? Of course but to the best of my ability? Certainly my photography degree course is going to move this along at a very fast pace but so many people get bogged down in buying new gear, wanting new lenses etc. “Oh you still have that model? I have the Mark III!’
Do you? Good for you. It’s important not to get too hung up about the equipment you have. It took me a while to acknowledge that I should master what I have before getting bogged down in what I do not have or cannot afford etc.
2. Practice Camera Skills
I’ve learned a lot in the first semester of college, even revisiting subjects which I knew already. When I look forward to moving from 35mm to digital, I always remind myself that while having a preview screen and delete button is a major advantage, taking the shot correctly in the first instance is even more advantageous.
Again, with the best equipment in the world, practiced skills outweigh them every time.
3. Take More Photographs
I’ve actually taking less than ever since starting college. This is due to time constraints in the actual shooting but also in processing. Developing a 35mm roll of film and taking it to a contact sheet is much longer than uploading to my hard drive!
I’ve been laden down with bags every morning and evening with items for work and the darkroom so it will seem easier to only carrying a digital camera in the New Year. I might begin a 365 project somewhere online (images will be posted here I imagine, even if elsewhere). For this purpose, I won’t be too particular about what I use to shoot the photographs and even my iPhone will get some usage.
That said, I really mean taking more conscientious photographs. When I undertook my first wedding, I was probably firing off double the shots that I do or would now. ‘Spray and pray’ is exactly that and sometimes less is more. Take a photo, take it once and take it correctly.
4. Correct Mistakes and Try New Things!
I made so many mistakes in the last few months between film processing and darkroom printing. That’s all after the mistakes I made while shooting with 35mm film!
I never properly analysed shots to date; well, not thoroughly. I would review and edit of course but it was a case of what I then needed to do in Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop i.e should I dodge, burn, adjust level and curves. The one thing I didn’t do enough of, in hindsight, was to consider what happened while shooting that resulted in these necessities.
Without this analysis, it is easy to become lazy and think ‘I can correct my mistakes in Photoshop anyway’ as opposed to making sure the shot is correctly exposed, framed and focused as I click the shutter button.
5. Learn a New Technique
People have always said to me, ‘you obviously love taking photos at live concerts’. This might be true but it’s largely down to my love of music and opportunity than the photographic genre. Bands and music artists generally love and appreciate their photos being taken, especially in a live setting where they may not have paid the photographer! It’s all useful marketing materials for them but it’s a great way of having your images distributed. I’ve had photographs that have ended up published in all kinds of places as a result but it doesn’t have to end there.
Perhaps if I was a working chef, people would notice my love of food photography. My answer has always been as above or that I haven’t had the same opportunities in other genres. This is one thing that excites me about my college degree course, that I will be exposed to many areas of photography.
I have done quite a bit of street photography but have recently been noticing how ‘in your face’ some photographers are in relation to their unknowing subjects. In many areas of the New Year, I would like to lose a little of that fear, though I would want to make it to the end of 2013 too!
Anyway, as the countdown begins, here’s to a happy, healthy New Year folks! See you on the other side!