2016 is officially over so we can forward to a fresh start of 2017. New Year’s Eve feels like clearing the memory card and starting over again. With such a clean sheet we are able to rewrite our story that determines this new year from scratch. Therefore we feel the need to set ourselves goals that we want to achieve and accomplishments we desire to fulfill. I am looking forward to a great 2017 too and here is my personal “wishlist”.
Trying out different genres
In 2016 I already tried different styles within the direction of Street Photography. It was a lot of fun to absorb the new experiences I got from trying out new kinds of Images. For example, integrating the off-camera flash made me understand a lot more how the exposure in combination with the shutter speed works. As well as understanding how the light from changing distances works.
Instead of being bound to street photography alone I want to test other fields like portraiture too. I don’t believe that you can only be a good photographer in one domain, but that there are universal traits that help you in general. Learning the rules of composition by trying out some architecture photos, will also help you to develop the eye for great street photos.
Apart from the personal development that makes you a well-rounded photographer, it will be mostly for the fun.
Make it physical
With physical, I mean to produce something sensible out of the digital pictures that are lying on the hard drive. Maybe a calendar at the end of the year or a small book with my favorite images. Holding your pictures in your own hands is a very special and rewarding feeling and it makes the images more meaningful. Even sharing them, in reality, is a lot more fun than just staring at displays.
Having a book or calendar to look back to a few years later is also a great way to display the progress of a photographer.
More personal Photography
Street Photography has become a very online focused hobby. We share our work almost immediately and react to other photos. This has the advantage that we are able to follow their images and progress as well as communicating very easily. Social Media in the grand scheme of things is a very positive aspect of Street Photography. People can engage with the whole world without any delay and additional cost. But it can also lead to a lot of pressure. One might feel the need to produce certain pictures that earn the most likes or are just uploaded to please the followers.
At the moment I am pretty much uploading every image that I feel is interesting and have no ongoing project that is completely my own. Nearly two years ago I started by photographing my local football club and didn’t share the images online, but only with the team members.
Sharing images on a regular feels very incomplete. Rather than sharing individual parts that are not connected, completing a project without interim publishing allows for complete creative freedom in creating the series. There is no pressure to fit someone’s expectation, leading to a project that is 100% personal. In the end, it should only meet my standards and if I feel ready to show it, then so be it.
As an amateur photographer, one of the biggest perks is, that I don’t have to fulfill certain deadlines. I can take all the time I want to photograph the images I need to complete a series that I am completely content with. Keeping these pictures by myself helps me to create an environment where there is no external influence that could drive me away from what I really want. It helps me to focus and reduces distraction.
Not orienting on hard metrics
One mistake that we as humans do in general is, that we are too focused on the outcome of an action. When we are acting we expect to generate a specific result. This is true of certain natural science where we can determine the speed of an object by applying a particular force. We are able to determine a lot of outcomes that might occur, by applying models or from experience.
Street Photography is no hard science and there is no accurate model to determine if we got enough “keepers” this month. No matter how hard we work, we can never be sure to meet the targeted results.
Rather than being focused on the outcome, we should question ourselves if we work as hard as we could to achieve our goal. If the answer is yes then we should be satisfied even though we might not have accomplished our targeted result. There are a lot of unknown factors, that it doesn’t really make sense to measure the success in Street Photography with metrics like the number of great pictures, or how often they got clicked or viewed by others.
Again, I am trying to photograph in 2017 more images that are geared towards my own interest and that should primarily make me happy. Hard work will pay off sooner or later and it shouldn’t be of my concern when I don’t get my desired results immediately.
Street Photography is not a short dash, it’s a marathon that will go on for many years to come.