I only realised, quite literally a couple of hours ago, that tomorrow is New Years Eve. NEW YEARS EVE! How did that happen? Where has the last week gone?
I’ve been thinking for a while now about various posts that are crammed into my brain at the moment, waiting to be written – reflecting on 2016, my intentions for 2017, favourite photos etc… I simply haven’t had the time or space (or silence!) to sit down and write them. Partly thanks to the Christmas chaos that has taken over our house and partly because I’m not sure just yet how to put it all into words. There seems to be so much to say and I know that once I start the words will come spilling out onto the screen and I won’t be able to stop until I’m done.
So, as a starting point, I’ve been thinking about my photography journey over the last 12 months. It seems easier than our family/my personal life as a whole. To begin with anyway. I’m sure that stuff will come.
I feel like I’ve grown a lot. I shoot what I want to shoot – not because it’ll look pretty on Instagram or because it might get some likes on Facebook. I document our days, capture moments of emotion and photograph the stories of our lives. And when my husband or kids aren’t involved in the image I shoot things that I find interesting, or beautiful. I shoot things that make me feel a certain way, so I can remember months or even years down the line exactly what that feeling felt like. I shoot for me. And that feels important. I feel like I’m slowly finding my ‘voice’ within my little corner of the photography world. I get inspired by all the other incredible photographers I follow on social media and/or know in person, and I use that inspiration as fuel for my own creativity. I don’t want to be like them, or take the same shots as them. I want to make something that is uniquely my own, a collaboration of all the pieces that I love about their work intermingled with my own way of seeing the world and interpretation of what that feels like to me.
I know I still have a lot to learn. The technical side of things still baffles me on occasion and the sheer enormity of everything that goes on in the background of setting up & running a photography business is majorly overwhelming. So I’m taking it one step at a time. Trying new things, testing the water, being brave, learning from the inevitable fuckups and mistakes, and persevering… because in the deepest part of my heart and soul I know that all I want to do is write and take photos.
So, taking all of that into account, I’ve put together a list of ten photography resolutions, designed to stretch me and challenge me and take me well out of my comfort zone into new territory. Because growth is rarely (if ever!) comfortable.
1. Get in the frame more
There is a group of photographers I follow online who have created a collaborative project called ‘Wherever I am with you’, each photographer committing to get into the frame with their kids at least once a month. I love looking through their images and it makes me realise that I have so very few photos of me with the girls or my husband. The ones I do have are mainly blurry selfies that I force the husband to take with me on his phone on the odd occasion we manage to escape for a date-night or convince the kids to bundle on the sofa with us for a family shot. I need to let go of the camera more and actively hand it over to my husband and ask rather than just hoping he’ll offer to take a photo. I also want some photos of all of us together rather than one of us always being out of the frame because they’re taking the shot. Number 3 (below) will also help with this!
2. Learn how to use Lightroom
Lightroom is an editing software (like Photoshop but slightly different). Currently, none of my images are edited, bar the very occasional brightening tool on an Instagram shot if I’ve underexposed a bit or misjudged the lighting. Everything you see on my site is exactly as I took it in camera. A huge part of me is really proud of that. It makes me unique. So many photographers rely on editing to help them create incredible shots and I’m absolutely not knocking it at all – it’s an artform in itself! It’s just not me. I’m a natural girl and authenticity and honesty is supremely important to me – I want my images to reflect that and that’s why I’ve always shied away from any form of editing. However, I have battled internally with myself on numerous occasions at deleting images that could be amazing if they were just a touch brighter or a smidgeon lighter or if I’d nailed the starburst/golden light of sunset that I could see with my eyes but couldn’t quite manage to recreate with my camera settings. Learning how to use Lightroom will not only give me a more efficient way of organising my images, but it will give me the option of being able to keep the photos that I would otherwise discard just by using an occasional tweak here and there. Side note: In order to do this I need to start shooting in RAW mode instead of JPEG. I don’t know why this feels quite so scary but it does.
3. Learn how to use the self timer
As a kid I remember my Mum carefully balancing her old SLR on the garden table, setting the timer and running round at top speed to where me and my Stepdad stood to get in the picture herself so we had a shot of the three of us. At the time I rolled my eyes and complained a lot, but I get it now (and my kids complain to me!). Learning how to use the self timer (or, even better, getting a wireless remote shutter?!) would mean that a/ I’ll be able to get in the frame more (see #1 above) and b/ I’ll have mastered another control on my camera that I currently leave well alone in case I change something in the settings beyond all recognition and can’t get it back to how I like it!
4. Start charging for photo-shoots
Back in the Autumn I offered five completely free photo-shoots to local friends. I did it so I could learn how to connect with people and build my confidence in my ability to get good shots of people outside of my own family. I’ve honoured three of them (here, here and here) and loved every single second of doing them. I still have two to go which will probably take place in the springtime now. After that, I want to be brave and take the leap and start charging for my work. I have a figure in my head but there is something telling me that I need to know a lot more and be infinitely more professional before I do anything as daft as asking for actual money in return for my shots. So this one is going to take some work to stick to.
5. Scout out new locations
If you follow me on social media you’ll already know that I love getting out and about in nature, exploring our local area and discovering new places to have fun and spark my girls imaginations. Towards the end of this year I’ve felt a bit stuck in a rut with the places we go to though – it always seems to be a variation of the same three or four locations. So I’m on a mission to scout out some new local locations to take the girls to that I can potentially use for photo-shoots as well.
6. Try vlogging
Technically not solely photography but close enough. I’ve wanted to give vlogging (video blogging) a try for a while now, and after watching many of my online blogger friends complete Vlogmas in the run up to Christmas I’m more determined than ever to have a go. This one is waaaaaay out of my comfort zone. If getting in front of the camera for a photo is hard, being live on screen is an utterly terrifying prospect. I do want to make use of and play with the GoPro that my husband got me for Christmas though, so it’s on the list!
7. Try out a different lens
I mainly use my 35mm lens – it’s brilliant for the documentary style shots that I like to take. I do also really love my 50mm – to me it feels like it has a softer quality to it and I can capture tiny details that the 35mm just can’t quite manage. But I don’t want to get stuck into a rut of always shooting in the same way, so a new lens for 2017 is definitely on the horizon. I just need to decide which way I’m going to go – 24mm or 85mm?!
8. Shoot daily
I already do this (see any of my Project Happy blog posts) but writing it down and sharing it pubically is always good for accountability. Even if I don’t feel like it, even if it seems like there’s nothing to shoot, I need to pick up my camera and take a few shots. I’m hoping that I’ll surprise myself.
9. A new personal project
Project Love finishes on Sunday – fifty-two weeks of images showing the love that I see in the world. It was only ever meant to be a year-long thing, as opposed to Project Happy which I’ll continue as long as I’m still alive. I already know what my new project is going to be, but I’m not ready to launch it yet. Watch this space… 😉
I’m spending increasing amounts of time on Instagram these days. I love the feeling of community and support and encouragement it cultivates (well, in the circle of people that I follow anyway). There are numerous hashtags that I’d love to join in with – partly to gain more exposure for my work but also, if I’m totally honest, partly to gain a feeling of belonging that I don’t quite feel at the moment. I’ve only been blogging for nine months and I still feel a bit like ‘the new girl’. I’m hoping that by becoming more involved in the hashtags that I love to look through (#littleloves, #lifecloseup and #ukexplore are just three examples), I might create more personal connections to continue to encourage me to grow.
So that’s it. My ten photography resolutions for 2017. I’ll keep you posted throughout the year with how I’m doing and hopefully revisit this time next year with a summary of how I’ve got on!