What Are Your Photography Resolutions?

Happy New Year, friends! Like many of you, I'm excited for the fresh start that this new year brings.

Many of you are in the process of writing resolutions for 2018. It's okay to think outside the box when it comes to resolutions. One of the most common, non-cliche resolutions I hear is, "I resolve to take more pictures!" I love this resolution because it is positive, meaningful, and easy to accomplish! Here are some other tips from yours truly about setting photography-related resolutions.

Take More Photos

Anyone can be a photographer, especially in the age of cell phones.

Taking photos is one of the greatest hobbies there is. It allows you to see and appreciate the world around you in a different way, it flexes your creative muscles, it provides cherished memories that you can look back on for years to come, and it can get you out of your comfort zone.

It can be intimidating at first to start photography, but just remember that there are no rules. I mean yeah, there are rules, but who cares? I promise you, the photo police won't come bust down your door if you make a mistake. Just start somewhere. With the advent of YouTube, you can learn almost any photographic technique online. Cell phones like iPhones have cameras that nearly rival professional DSLRs. You have all the tools at your fingertips to get started.

If you just want to take more photos of your family, try taking some posed shots at the beginning of each event. That way you won't forget by the end of the event.

Take Better Photos

You don't need expensive gear to start taking better photos.

There are two simple ways you can start taking better photos right now- for free.

1. Learn your gear. Chances are, you already have a camera or a phone with a camera, and chances are, you aren't using it to its capacity. If you are shooting on auto mode, you aren't taking the best possible pictures you can take. A simple Google search can show you how to manually manipulate the settings on your phone or camera. This puts you in control and will help you start taking better shots. The first three things you will want to learn are ISO, shutter speed, and aperture.

2. Change it up. Just changing the angle or the light of a photo can make all the difference. When taking a family photo, instead of just standing normally and taking the photo, stand on a chair, squat down, etc. A change of angle can REALLY transform your photos. Similarly, stepping closer to a window for more natural light, or using a flash or ring light can really make an instant difference in the quality of your photos.

Invest in Prints

When was the last time you printed out your photos? How out-of-date are the family portraits on your walls? Preserve your memories and make them tangible by getting them printed. If you don't believe me about the power of the print, whip out one of your parents' old albums and tell me I'm wrong after you flip through it.

Do a Photo Challenge

There are so many different photo challenges out there that will help you build your skills, or just create fun memories. For the ambitious, there are photo-a-day challenges like this one (https://fatmumslim.com.au/photo-a-day-challenge-lists-see-them-all-here/). These are really difficult to stick to, but man oh man do they pay off. Doing these is a commitment. With cell phone cameras, though, these are possible.

You can also do diary-style photo-a-day challenges, like one-second videos that you splice together at the end of the year. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4d317OsoQCo) There are even apps that can help you with these.

If you're a little more restricted on time, you might try this popular 52-week photography challenge. There's even a Facebook group for support, and a helpful PDF to get you started. (https://petapixel.com/2017/12/27/heres-52-week-photo-challenge-improving-skills-2018/)

If your goal is just to capture more memories of your family and not hone your photography skills, you might try something special my friend does. Every morning before school she takes a photo of her kids sitting in the same chair. Sometimes they are happy, sometimes they are silly, sometimes they are grumpy. How amazing will it be to look back over those photos when her kids are grown? It's just a simple snapshot of their daily life, and that is what makes it so brilliant. Don't stress and think, well I haven't done it since they were babies. So? Start now. When your kids are grown, you'll be glad you did. Better late than never.

If your goal is to become a better photographer, check this out. Creative Live, one of the BEST places for photography instruction, offers a free photo challenge that includes actual lessons so you can learn each technique. How cool is that?! https://www.creativelive.com/class/creative-photography-challenge

Get Organized

We are living in a time when people are taking more photos than ever, yet we may be the generation with the fewest preserved photos. Lack of organization and misunderstanding of technology are to blame for this. Think about it. How many times have you lost photos when a computer crashed or you lost your phone? How many times have you looked for that one specific photo and haven't been able to find it in the sea of shots on your hard drive? How many times have you downloaded your own photo from Facebook because you weren't able to find the original file, and then been unable to print it because of the low resolution?

Make 2018 the year you get organized. I will blog more about this in the months to come. If you can't find them, or if you don't back them up, your photos are worthless.

Plan a Creative Shoot

There is nothing wrong with a traditional photo shoot. But how many times have you browsed Pinterest longingly, seeing all of the creative stuff other families or couples have done? How many times have you seen photos go viral and wished that were you? Well, it can be you. Trust me, your photographer would love nothing more than to be the photographer to do the Star Wars Taco Bell shoot with colorful smoke bombs and glitter chalkboards. So, like, let's do that.

Live in the Moment

As much as I love photography, and as much as I encourage people to take more photos, there are sometimes when less is more. Yes, take photos, but take photos of what matters. Don't miss living in the moment in order to capture the moment. When I go to a popular monument, I ask myself, can I take a better photo than the postcard I can buy for 25 cents in the gift shop? If no, I put my camera away and enjoy the moment. When I'm at a concert, I ask myself, can I find a video online of this song with better video and audio? Yes, I can, and nobody wants to watch shaky, grainy concert footage. Seriously. PUT. IT. AWAY. Enjoy the moment. I know it didn't happen if you don't 'gram it, but did it happen if you didn't experience it?

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