Photography

5 Questions Every Photographer Should Be Asking Themselves Before We Enter 2016

We near the end of 2015 and, before launching ourselves into 2016, the time is nigh for reflecting on the past, present and future of our photography.

1: Have I grown as a photographer in 2015?

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Sarah Penant – Flickr

Unless you’ve got many, many years under your belt, it’s unlikely you’ve had the opportunity to try out every type of photography. Whether a digital user trying out film, a landscape photographer trying out portraits, or a wildlife shutterbug trying our macro or low-light shots, how have you grown as a photographer this year?

When you look at your images from 2014 compared to those from this year, can you see personal growth? If not, now is the time to plan how you will change this in the months to come.

2: What new inspiration have I gotten in 2015?

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Giovanni Orlando – Flickr

Flickr, Instagram, 500px, DigitalRev’s photo community and even YouTube all offer a glimpse through the lens of other talented and passionate photographers.

Every month there are many small and large competitions opening for entries and others announcing their winners in all kinds of categories including photojournalism, wildlife, landscape and portraiture.

While you may find not all photographers’ styles are your cup of tea, if you find just one with a style you like, they could inspire you to take photos you never thought you would. Better still, you could inspire each other.

3: What have I learnt in 2015?

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Annabelle Teo – Flickr

You may or may not understand f-stop settings, the rule of thirds or the laws surrounding photography on public and private land, but hopefully you know more than you did at this point in 2014. the next step is to decide what areas you want to be more knowledgeable about and make it happen in 2016.

Consider entering the new year with a plan to take a photo a day, a photo a week or a photo a month with services designed to support you such as project365. Though your resolve may not last until the end of the year you’re bound to get more practice and need to think outside of the ordinary.

4: How have I contributed to photography this year?

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Vyacheslav Bondaruk – Flickr

From sharing images on online communities, or giving advice to new photographers on forums such as Reddit, to letting other photographers know when you discover a way to create effects, what have you done this year to help the ever-growing photography community become better and stronger?

It should be noted that while the photography community seems to be mostly online nowadays, though there is lots you can do to connect offline such as local and global photo walks.

5: How can I improve my photography in 2016?

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Rodrigo Soldon – Flickr

Even the best photographers will have ‘outtakes’. Those aren’t the images they show to the world. Whether you’re producing excellent shots in-camera, or improving your post-processing skills, practice makes perfect.

As we near the end of 2015, now is the time to look objectively at the images you made this year—what worked, what didn’t, which 10 you’d be proud to show to the world (and which you’d rather not). Separating the wheat from the chaff—or culling your so-so shots—will help you take a step back and enter 2016 knowing your current strengths and weaknesses.

And, while I’m at it…

3 Things Photographers Should Stop Saying…

1: I need new gear.

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Tiago Pereira – Flickr

Don’t get me wrong, there is some seriously cool gear out there and you may, in fact, need it. This point refers to the tendency to feel we need every new body, lens, tripod, drone and kitchen sink out there.

The person behind the lens is more important than what’s in their hands when it comes to making a great photo.

2: That guy doesn’t know what he’s doing.

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Matthijs – Flickr

A photograph that may be beautiful to one person may fail to impress another. If however, the latter gives feedback to the photographer that the image was ‘not great’ or ‘unimpressive’, this method of tearing down other photographers is not constructive.

If you feel that you could have executed it ‘better’, share your wisdom, be helpful but remember, it’s easy to sound aggressive on the interwebs. Use the sandwich approach: good news, bad news, good news.

So, ‘This is a beautiful scene. If you try taking photos just before dusk you’ll find you can achieve a great moody lighting effect. Overall, great shot!’

3: Every smartphone user thinks they’re a photographer.

As cameras have evolving with improving technology, photographers have been adapting and living side-by-side with those who using different formats for many years. With smartphone cameras getting better, and the fact they are affordable, we were always bound to be seeing more and more work taken with them.

If the next guy toting a smartphone calls himself a photographer, is it any skin off your nose? Depending on how you classify ‘photographer’ it could simply be someone who take photographs. So…nearly everybody.

You’re welcome to adopt, improve or critique my groupings for photographers:

Photographer someone who takes photographs whether it be with a DSLR, a point-and-shoot, an iPhone or a potato.
Professional photographer a photographer who earns more than 50% of their income by taking photos, whether it be with a DSLR, a point-and-shoot, an iPhone or a potato.
Hobby/professional photographer a photographer who earns money from their photography, yet under 50% of their total earnings.
Hobbyist photographer a photographer who rarely—if ever—receives money for their images. Set apart from the ‘photographer’ as the hobbyist photographer knows what they like to photograph and have specialised—be it in birds, sunsets, people or cityscapes, etc.

May 2016 bring you better lighting, perfect timing and a keener eye.