Beginning of the year is most obvious time for resolutions. Most people fail in keeping them and so do I. Rather than a resolution I call it an area I would like to focus on and do my best to improve upon. And there is lot of things to improve but I have some major ones. I will consider it a success if I can say I accomplished at least half of this list to some level of satisfaction at the end of 2015. Here it goes.
1. Spend more time behind camera rather than computer
When I look back on 2014 I have to admit I didn't shoot as much as I wanted. I definitely have to take more photographs. Practice makes a master and if I don't practice I won't advance my skills. It is as simple as that. When I look back even further and then compare the photographs prior to 2014 with the last year, I cannot help to notice that I didn't improve much if at all. This is something that worries me a little. I do need to up my game if I don't want to get stuck at my current skill level. I spent too much time on tutorials learning the theory but I didn't really get my hands "dirty" by putting all the knowledge into practice. So I hope in the 2015 I reverse this trend and I spend more time behind the camera rather than computer. I hope I will be able to step out of the box a little and do something more or rather different.
2. Learn to master artificial light
Most of my work is travel and documentary related as that is where I feel the most comfortable. I noticed that all of my photographs are taken in available light. And it is not because I am a natural light photographer. Let's be honest here. I don't really know how to use artificial light well. This is one of the areas I need to step up the game, venture into strobe world and get some basic skills. It doesn't need to be complicated. I will definitely not invest into expensive lighting gear. I do own a flash which is sitting in my pelican case untouched for years. It just needs to be dusted of and it is ready to go. If it is going to cost me something it will be probably just very basic umbrella and light stand but I can do well even without it. That's it. Start simple and work my way up. And I know I can do a LOT with this single setup if I learn how.
3. Catch up and improve on image management
This is an area I am falling behind quite a lot. My Lightroom catalog was bit of a mess. I have basic structure and organisation going on but on a deeper level it is quite inconsistent. If I was a professional photographer, this would probably kill my business. As I am just amateur it is not that super crucial but it is good idea to be organized. I need to find a good workflow and suitable consistent way of organizing, rating, keywording and managing my photographs. It is too big of a job to go back to all photographs at once but I can start clean and fresh from today and work my way through old photographs bit by bit. If I can keep the catalog organised and consistent from now on and leaving the old stuff as it is I am still going to consider it as a success.
4. Fight gear acquisition syndrome
As every photographer I do suffer from gear acquisition syndrome. Gear matter and matters not, depends how you look at it. But it is certainly unnecessary to keep buying stuff that I want but don't really need. And I am guilty of it. As my preferred genres are travel and documentary photography it makes sense to keep the gear amount down. I already started cutting back on the gear last year. I also implemented a simple strategy of only buying a piece of gear when I am able to sell something. I need to constantly remind myself that gear I currently own is way much better than my photography skills. If I used an analogy I would say my skills are like cheap kit lens put on a high megapixel camera body. So I need to up my skills to bring out the maximum I can get from my current set up. And boy, I have long way to go.
5. Learn to shoot video
I am really interested in video. But as with everything, I need to learn it, practice it. Just a good camera will not do the trick. I need to practice, practice, practice. Maybe the first pieces won't be ready for Hollywood or National Geographic TV but that's ok. Even the most famous cinematographers and photographers sucked at some point of their life. I tried to take videos during my last trips to Nepal and Cambodia but unfortunately I didn't come back with good enough footage to put together a short compelling piece. It was mostly due to lack of experience but also due to fact I mixed video and photography at the same time and that is really hard to do. At least at the beginning, until I master the fundamentals it will be wise to focus only on one thing at the time.
6. Put more effort into this website
I would love to write more for this blog. When I look back I wrote more articles in 2014 than year before but I can do better. When I started I thought, how hard it can be to write something and attach few photos. I was actually surprised that it takes considerable effort. I am not much of a writer. English is not my native tongue and although I speak it on daily basis I am not sure how it comes out in writing. I do not know how easy is for others to read and follow the article. Then there is the time it takes to produce a blog post. I do it because I enjoy it and I like to share my travel stories and photographs with others. I hope to continue with this trend and post more. And I get better as I go. That is the plan.
7. Make more prints
Last year I printed few of my photographs. It was so refreshing to see them on paper rather than computer screen. These days prints are so rare that it almost has an exotic feel to it. I printed them big and they looked awesome big. Somebody once said that photograph is finished when printed. I couldn't agree more. A printed photograph can make a nice present. If I find the way I would like to print few of my best photographs and make a small exhibition. I also want to sell prints and give the profit to charity
8. Venture into different art forms
I am getting little bit tired of all things digital. It is nice and convenient but I do miss the analog flavor a bit. I am also a proponent of having a good balance in all aspects of life. I used to paint when I was younger and I am thinking of getting back to it. It can be a nice escape from pixels and undo command. There is something special in creating one of a kind piece. I think I'll head to art store this weekend to get myself a set of oil paints, brushes and a canvas.
9. Visit a country I haven't visited before
I traveled extensively in South-East Asia. I've been in many countries several times. It was either convenient or I have fallen in love with those countries. I am always looking to come back for more experience. There are some destinations in mind and trust me, the full list is way too long to post here. This will greatly depend on my work schedule and also on my work location. At the moment I am still based in Singapore but this can (and probably will) change during this year. Goal is to visit a new country or at least I previously not visited place in already visited country. Not sure if this was grammatically correct sentence but you got the point.
10. Keep climbing
I got this mountaineering bug last year. It is like drug. I have got taste of it and now I want more. Last year I have gotten above 6000m twice. I want more :) Quite frankly, my ego has deep scars after unsuccessful summit attempt of Chulu West. Remedy? Work hard, train harder and climb higher. If I have chance to go to Himalayas again and if financial situation allows me so I would like to attempt 7000m peak or attempt a major peak outside Himalayas. Aconcagua or Mt Rainier comes into my mind first :) let's see how this goes.
This is it folks. Do you think it is too much or should I be much bolder with my goals. Well I don't know. I'll make that judgement at the end of 2015. I rather prefer to over achieve than not meeting my goals at all.