As I sit here I truly can’t believe that the New Year is already upon us. Each year I am shocked by how fast time has flown. I’ve never actually been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions because I always have a hard time following through with them. Yet, I still feel like making resolutions and trying to keep them is very important for both personal and professional growth throughout the year. Writing them down can be a more effective way of forcing you to follow through with them. This is why H has taken the time to come up with 10 essential new year resolutions that photographers should have their sights set on for 2019. We hope they help you kick ass and become even better creators as 2019 fast approaches.
Every year as I learn more about photography as an art form and a business, I see so many fellow creatives struggle with finding a balance between pursuing the photography they love and posting things on social media that will get the most likes. I’ve seen creative photography blossom with smartphones and affordable DSLRs and take an ugly shift with selfie sticks and social media vanity.
Some days, like everyone, I feel more inspired than ever, and others I feel like giving up, deleting all of my social media and going to live in the woods away from all people.
I think a lot of us get caught up on the daily chore of posting photos to our social media profiles at the right time and losing focus on what truly matters. For me, photography isn’t just a job, it’s a passion that comes from my heart. When I take an image I’m proud of I feel a sense of accomplishment. I feel proud. When I share that photo and it inspires others, I feel happy. It’s a simple joy that gets weighed down by the pressure to post in an unnatural way.
My advice to you this year is to create goals, not necessarily the tangible ones like getting X-amount of followers on Instagram or getting published in so and so magazine, but the ones that develop that big raw-artist heart that we all have behind our photos.
So without further ado, here are some of the things you should shift your focus toward for 2019:
1. Believe in your art.
This should be the goal for the month of January. If you don’t believe in the art you are doing then it will never be successful. Period. Bottom line. What makes your imagery beautiful? YOU do! We all struggle with doubt. Is my photo good? Will people like it? There is a difference between pushing yourself to be a better photographer, and being self-critical. So make the change. Believe in your work, believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter how many other people do, it has to come from you.
2. Impress yourself.
Get yourself excited about your work again. Stop worrying about “wowing” anyone else and instead try new things that make you look at your end result and go, “Damn! That’s an amazing photo.” Put your passion behind your photos and post the ones you love regardless of how they might perform on social media.
3. No More FOMO.
There will always be someone better because there will always be someone with better gear, more free time and more experience. Before Instagram, we didn’t really know about these people. But, now we do, and we get it rubbed in our jealous little noses on a daily basis. My advice. DO NOT COMPARE. Look at their work, admire it, take what you will from it and move on. It is a waste of time getting stuck on the fact that someone else is so much better than you are. It won’t help you get any better so move past it. We all waste a lot of time doing this, and frankly, we don’t have the time to waste.
I am extremely fortunate that I can travel as much as I do, but my life is not my social media feed. I post images from over five years of my adventures, so I’m not always standing on top of a mountain overlooking an incredible sunset or hiking in amazing places. In fact, 90% of the time, I’m in my cozy plaid pjs reading a book and contemplating why I don’t travel as much as everyone else on my Instagram newsfeed. The point is, don’t have FOMO, because no one’s life is a perfect tropical beach sunset every day.
4. Enjoy the journey.
Now that you’ve stopped caring what others think and what beach they are currently tanning on, you can enjoy your journey. After all, this is the only journey that matters. Set your goals, both the practical and the lofty, and then take a deep breath and enjoy the process knowing you are working toward something you really want. Choose to be positive and appreciate the things that you have. Enjoy what you do and give back to those who matter most to you. Happiness is so important, and we forget that along the way to the next big step in our lives.
5. Risk, fail and fail some more.
If you don’t risk, you fail by default. And if you don’t fail, you will never learn how to succeed. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right? Everyone fails, but eventually, those failures will turn into something worthy of picking yourself up, dusting yourself off and starting all over again.
Photography is a nice thing to fail at because in almost all cases no one will die if you make a mistake. A few bad photos aren’t the end of the world, and in the minds of our attention deficit followers, they probably didn’t even see it anyway. I mean think of how fast you scroll through your own feed. This year stop being afraid to try new things. I dare you!
6. Be authentic.
Pretending to be someone you are not is exhausting and counter-productive. I mean, there’s that fake it until you make it mentality but honestly at some point, you need to just be true to yourself. The pressure to fit into some predetermined, one-filter, photography style is ever present. Social media popularity does not necessarily translate into real-world success and income. Sure, sometimes it does, but compromising your style and your art to pursue this goal is unrealistic. Allow your photography to transcend the popularity game and be authentic to who you are and what you like. Allow yourself to be curious about different photographic styles and techniques and never ever stop wanting to learn.
Don’t be fake. Don’t compromise. Be authentic and original.
7. Be present.
I find this to be one of the hardest things. My head is always swimming with ideas, and I’m often overwhelmed with choice paralysis because I have so many different directions I could go in. I used to fly into a panic during golden hour because I felt stressed to find the perfect place to shoot, and I was forgetting to notice the beauty right in front of me.
I’m always more concerned with the end product than experiencing the moment. This year, I’m taking a big, deep breath and trying something new. Something like this:
Look outside. Notice the little things. The freshly fallen snow, the clouds moving across a blue sky. Listen to the world around you, feel the ground underneath you, supporting you. Try to connect to your surroundings. Be present. Tune out everything else and just simply live. I promise you will notice more, feel more and have more control over your art.
8. Network with other photographers.
For professional photographers, networking is an essential part of your life. Find an active and supportive group of photographers you can bounce ideas around with and use to get insightful feedback. Online groups work, but finding a local camera club or other photography collective that meets in real life can be even more rewarding.
9. See the neighborhood with new eyes.
Maybe you live somewhere that is not your ideal home base, but it’s where you are at during this moment of your career because you have to be. Instead of getting frustrated and wishing to be anywhere else but where you are, try to thinking positive and see the world around you in a different way.
10. Take a look back.
It’s always healthy to reflect and look at how far you have come from where you once were. I want to emphasize not focusing too much on the past; however, some reflection can be a good motivator for 2019. Maybe find some past projects you were working on and try to bring them back to life, you never know what may come from it.
To sum it all up: Be positive. Believe in yourself. Stop competing with others. Be yourself. Be present and connect to the world and your art. I’d say that’s pretty good advice. Wishing you a beautiful journey in 2019.