It’s New Year’s Day 2016. Today we flip the calendar page and begin another year. Here in Maine, the weather has been mild in December. Until this week’s storm, we had no snow. I believe I join many who would be just fine without snow, or cold, and could roll right into spring from here.
I must admit that I’ve been a poor blogger this year. I could run through a list of the whys…full time job, back to school to finish a degree I began so many years ago, full time husband, daughter, home, and life. I really could go on but with some analysis, it’s a list of blessings. I’m busy but its good busy. Family activities, a daughter who has musical talent, volunteers, belongs to clubs at school, and gets good grades is all good busy. Health and home are okay. Neither is new and both could use a tune up of sorts but are okay.
So I’ve got a million excuses and none at all.
I owe it to readers to do the work. With that in mind I’ve created a list of goals for the New Year. I’d be thrilled if readers held me to task although I recognize that’s not your role. If you’re going to take the time out of your own busy lives to bother to read my writing and view my photographs, I owe it to you to write something worth reading, make photos worth viewing, and back it up with information that’s useful to you.
Here’s my list of professional goals* for 2016:
WRITE MORE. Regular daily correspondence like writing email replies and drafting papers for my classes doesn’t count here. In Stephen King’s book “On Writing” his suggestion is to write 1000 words a day. Trying to be realistic about what I can accomplish is the best way for me to actually accomplish anything. I’m not sure if I could write 1000 words per day. To clarify, brevity has never been my strongest attribute. Writing 1000 words is pretty easy for me-the writing part-it’s taking the time to do it that’s in question.
SHOOT MORE. In the past, I’ve done projects like Photo 365, where you take and post a photo per day. I wanted something to drive me to shoot on a daily basis. Mostly I ended up with a bunch of photos from my daily routine. Maybe the “find beauty in everyday things” concept could be at play here but my experience was mixed on this. While I did shoot more I didn’t end up with any astounding photos from the experiment. For me, the best photos come out of an excursion of sorts. Take my daughter for a hike and get this…
Or go out looking for something to fill a course project and get this…
Maybe you get the idea. It’s not so much that I need to plan each shot because once I head out, camera in hand, I can always find something good. Maybe this goal is really part of goal # 7, even if the travel is to my backyard. Much good has come out of traveling to my backyard with the intent to shoot.
PROCESS MORE. Shoot more means that there’s more to download, sort through, edit, add metadata, size, resize, rename, etc etc. It’s not enough to shoot stuff. I need to take the next steps. I currently use Adobe Bridge and Photoshop to manage and edit my photos. I have a 1TB external hard drive that houses photos from the past two years, with room for more. I should consider whether adding Lightroom to the workflow would be a good investment for me. Beyond processing images, see Goal #’s 4, 8, 9, & 10. Each of those has a series of steps that are needed to take it from my computer or hard drive to the viewer or buyer.
SHARE MORE. Everybody shares stuff, right? Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter… there’s the worldwide, online sharing like that and there’s smaller circle sharing. Neither of which I’m very good at. It’s not that I don’t want to share. It’s back to the issue of taking the time to do it. My mother says “you shoot a lot but we never see the pictures!” She’s talking here of the stuff I shoot at family gatherings, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Baby showers, etc. And she’s right. I’m not good at sharing. She wants tangible photos she can hold in her hands and show her friends. She’s 83. I get it. For the social media part of sharing, I find myself with a few concerns on this. One is that putting my photos out there makes them somewhat vulnerable. If I want to be able to sell a photo as stock or as art, it can’t be available for free somewhere. On the other hand, if no one knows that an image exists, how would they know that they need it for their next big project?
I’m going to stick with a sort of general goal of sharing more and work to define what it means for my business.
READ MORE, LEARN MORE, TRAVEL MORE. Not intended to be lumped together as the same thing, these three goals are outside of the daily frame of business but do directly impact the work I do. Jimmy Buffett’s advice to new graduates in 2015 was to “read as much as possible and travel as much as possible”. Reading and traveling open you up to new possibilities and ideas. Travel for me is a direct path to shooting more as I generally wouldn’t go anywhere without my camera. Both lend themselves to the goal of learning more. As I mentioned at the start, I’m taking classes and working towards a degree in Mass Communication so each semester brings a new round of books, assignments, writing, reading, and interaction with other students on some level. While some of the classes may not directly impact my photography and writing, some do. I just completed a course in Visual Communication which I thought would be easy for me to do but truly challenged the way I see things and broadened my understanding of the visual world. I’ll be sharing some of the ideas from the course here on my blog in the coming months. So read, travel, learn — intertwined and important to me.
MORE ON MY PORTFOLIO, ON ETSY, ON STOCK SITES…I’m not taking a shortcut on these, just trying to avoid being repetitive as all three have had the same issues for me. All three link back to the goal of processing more. They come after the shooting and processing and require the next steps of selection, sizing, metadata, and posting. My portfolio here has many photos and is used for transmittal to clients. While its utility is a necessary tool in this business, presenting much more than a hard copy book can do, it, too requires time and effort on my part, something which has proved to be a problem for me. It’s the same with Etsy; while the result is beneficial to me, the process is cumbersome and time consuming. Stock sites can be a great form of passive income but again, require time and effort.
They say that if you want to be held to a commitment, tell people about it. Want to quit smoking? Tell everyone around you that you want to do it and you’ll be encouraged to stick with it and embarrassed to cave in. (of course this could lead to secretive behaviors which could lead to more secretive behaviors, sneaking out for a smoke, trying to perfume away the scent, and generally lead down a dark path, but that’s not going to happen to me, right?)
So, if you’re reading this, if you got this far (1401 words) thank you. If you’re reading this and have any suggestions, solutions, or just want to commiserate, please leave a comment. Support is always welcomed. I’ll even take criticism, but please go easy on me.
Good luck with your own goals for the freshly minted New Year!