Nikon D810 with Nikon Micro 105mm f2.8G; ISO 200, f11, 1/125s @ 105mm

It’s the start of a new year and with it come the usual resolutions that people make and attempt to keep. Instead I prefer to set myself some goals for the year and see if I can attain them and at the same time I look back at the goals I set for myself last year and evaluate how I performed.

What are your goals? It is a simple question and certainly not a trick question. Think about it for a moment. Surprisingly most photographers don’t have goals or they may answer with a really vague answer like “I want to shoot more” or “I want to take better photographs”. Sadly, that isn’t quite going to cut it.

There are different types of goals:

  • Knowledge: The more you know the better your photography will become. Perhaps you don’t quite know how to fully use Photoshop or how to us an ND filter. Reading a book or attending a workshop may help.
  • Technique: This is the application of your knowledge. You may read how an ND filter works but you need to apply that knowledge in the field to develop that skill. Get out there and apply what you have learnt!
  • Quality: This is subjective. As an example: if you’re not winning all the competitions you enter perhaps you have a problem with quality. You need to figure out where you are currently in terms of quality and how to get to the next level.
  • Quantity: Although I choose quality over quantity any day of the week, quantity can be a useful goal. How often do you shoot? How often do you produce quality work? No point shooting 100,000 photographs that are all terrible.

When setting goals, remember the SMART approach, your goals should be:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Ambitious – aim high, and push your boundaries.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-bound – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

Here’s a little secret – your goals will follow on from and be impacted by your answer to the question: “Why do you photograph?” That in itself should be a goal – figure out why you do this!

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