Now that the magic of the holidays has past, this is that special time of year when we all snuggle up next to the fire and reflect upon all the things we dislike about ourselves. We’re too fat, we’re too lazy, too cluttered and incapable of following through on our plans. Wouldn’t it be nice to make a New Year’s resolution for once that you’d actually like to follow?
Why not embrace your fuller figure this year and accept that you are who you are, and resolve to make more time for the things you’re really passionate about – like photography?
These practical tips and ideas will help you start to improve your photography straightaway, and by the time 2014 comes around your only resolution will be to stop talking about what an amazing photographer you are!
New Year’s resolution no. 1: get up early
We know, it’s hard to motivate yourself to get out of bed when it’s dark outside and colder than Walt Disney, but you don’t need us to tell you that the best light happens at dawn, and to capture it, you need to be in place before the sun rises. One of the things that separates the amateurs from the pros is a driven commitment to capturing the best light. Make that your first goal for 2013, and you’ve already made a serious effort to improve your portfolio.
New Year’s resolution no. 2: photograph someone you don’t know
Getting out of your comfort zone is a must for any photographer, and nothing will help you grow this skill better and more quickly than photographing someone you don’t know. It can be a simple street shot, or a more formal studio portrait shoot with a model. But the key is interacting with your subject. The best photographers are those with superior people skills. Make it your goal to be like them.
New Year’s resolution no. 3: plan your photographic year
While this may sound like a daunting task, it’s really not. First write a list of the subjects you like to shoot. Then make a second list of the seasonal occurrences related to those subjects, such as bluebell blooms and autumn mist. While this may sound like mere common sense, it’s surprising how little planning we do as photographers. By thinking about our favourite subjects in advance, we don’t have to think about them later. We don’t have to rush about on the last weekend to capture bluebells, worrying where to park and how to get back, forgetting important details like extra memory cards and batteries in the process.
New Year’s resolution no. 4: shoot something you’ve never shot before
As long as you’re getting out of your comfort zone in 2013, why not go completely nuts and shoot a subject you’ve never shot before. Maybe it’s abstracts? That’s one that tends to frighten many of us. What makes a good abstract? You’ll hate us for being vague… but it can be anything! And you can even stick to what you know while pursuing something you don’t. If you shoot landscapes, for instance, don’t limit yourself to big, sweeping hillsides with vast skies. Try looking for interesting elements within the landscape, such as areas of colour, pattern, shape and texture. Maybe use your telephoto zoom lens to pick out the interesting details to create your artistic abstract image.
New Year’s resolution no. 5: break the rules
The secret to creative photography is breaking the rules of photography, but the secret to breaking the rules is knowing the rules of photography in the first place. If you’re a stickler for the Rule of Thirds, for instance, why not shoot a series placing your subject on the edge of the frame? Or if you’re a keen landscape photographer, try placing your horizon in non-traditional spots to emphasise the sky or foreground. If you know the rules beforehand – and you do – you’ll know when the effect feels right and when it falls flat. Believe in yourself, dammit!
New Year’s resolution no. 6: experiment with depth of field
Depth of field is something every photographer can use – and keep using – to creative effect. And somehow, like blues chords, it just never seems to get old. Keeping with our landscape example, go ahead and bag your big wide vista with a narrow aperture, but once you have those shots in the bag, why not set a wider aperture and experiment with your point of focus?
New Year’s resolution no. 7: master the art of long exposures
The easiest way to add drama to your pictures in-camera is to use a long exposure. The heavy saturation of colours and tones, the movement and softening of the sky will give your pictures a painterly effect that can turn a scene you’ve seen a million times before into something you haven’t. Try going to your location at the golden hours, setting a narrow aperture of f/16-f/22 so that you get shutter speeds of 1/10-1/30sec and you’ll be amazed at the results you get.
And there you have it! Make these 7 promises to yourself and you’ll be a markedly better photographer by the time 2014 rolls around. Let us know your photography New Year’s Resolutions below, or on our Facebook page.