2014 New Year Primer
The New Year always inspires us to refresh and renew. Popular resolutions include losing weight, getting more active or taking control of your finances. But it's also a good time to work on honing your skills in photography as well. In this article, we're hoping to give you some ideas and some further reading to help you improve your skills as a photographer.
Projects & Clubs
There's nothing more inspiring than to push your creative mind into a routine. If you do nothing else this coming year, I believe you should at least get into the habit of shooting regularly with your camera. Carry a camera with you often (if not always) and experiment with different subjects and compositions. If that's not enough, consider getting some additional creative boosts by participating in a project or a club.
A project is as simple as setting some goals and working to achieve them. For example, you could set a goal to create a calendar or a coffee table book featuring a specific theme. It could also be a weekly or daily photo challenge, both of which can be very demanding and sometimes difficult to achieve, but your craft can really grow as a result. Beware of setting the bar too high: An overly-complicated challenge could also result in loathing and bitterness towards your camera. We don't want that.
For a more free-form and social approach, you may wish to consider joining a club. If you search around, there is probably a photography club very near you. Hopefully you have a few to choose from and you can try one out to ensure a good fit. Lately, I've been participating in an international club called Drink and Click. It's a fairly informal club that may very well have a chapter near you (and if not, you can volunteer to set one up). The concept is simple: Go out on a photo walk about once a month, then socialize in a pub or restaurant. Then there are competitions every month, with prizes, based on a specific theme.
Even professionals don't shoot manual all the time, but there are a great number of reasons to learn how to do it. Manual affords you the creative control over the exposure. In some ways, it allows you to push the envelope where your camera – and it's ideal view of a “perfect exposure” – cannot deviate. Here are a few articles from our past that will help you learn more:
- Reasons to Break Away From Automatic Shooting
- Same Insanity, Same Results (Your Camera Doesn’t Learn)
- How To Use Exposure Compensation (And Why I Don’t Use It)
- Proper Manual Focusing Technique
- Shooting in Manual: Easier Than You Think
- Depth of Field: Your Camera’s Viewfinder Cannot Be Trusted
If your holiday gift cards are burning holes in your pockets, let me caution you to do your research. That dream camera you're looking at may very well be a great toy, but it isn't likely to improve your photography. On the flip side, the same money could be used for tools or other upgrades that will make a much more significant impact on your photography. To help you upgrade intelligently, here's a few articles we wrote on the topic, starting with the philosophy of our Camera and Gear Buying Guide: