‘Tis the season for new beginnings, and whether you’re just learning photography or you’ve been practicing for years, now is the time to up your game. You don’t need fancy equipment, a college degree, or multiple hours a week to take better pictures. All you need is a passion for clicking that shutter.
Maybe you want to capture fleeting family memories or great pictures of your next vacation. Perhaps you’re looking to take vibrant landscape shots and heartwarming portraits — or maybe you just want to document your life as a visual storyteller. The new year is full of possibilities. Ring in 2016 with a commitment to your craft. Improve your technique, take better photos, and expand your horizons with these six photography resolutions for the new year.
Learn All Your Camera’s Settings
Do you find yourself using your camera’s auto setting in every single situation? While it may seem easy to whip out your camera or phone and press just one button to capture what you see, the truth is that with just a bit of effort your photos could be a lot better.
No matter what kind of camera you’re shooting with, you can make use of some advanced settings to add vibrancy, drama, and clarity to your shots. This year, make it a priority to learn exactly what those extra buttons, wheels, and settings on your camera do. Read your manual, check out books from your library, or simply Google the name of your camera, and you’ll find all kinds of information.
Even camera phones come with all kinds of different settings and modes that you can play around with. Once you know your settings, take time to explore them. There’s no right or wrong way to do it, but the better you know your camera, the better your photography skills will become.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Practice a New Skill
Now that you know your camera better, it’s time to practice some new skills and techniques. Have you always admired those magical waterfall shots that you find online? Perhaps you’d like to become more comfortable photographing strangers on the street? Or maybe your indoor shots are always harsh and blurry, and you want to improve them?
Whatever you want to improve on, make it a priority this year. It doesn’t matter if you’re shooting with a camera phone, a point-and-shoot, or a DSLR — you are the key element behind every photo you take. Photography books, websites, and videos can help you on your journey, but the most important thing is to experiment and practice.
Print and Display Your Photos
Digital photos that live forever on your computer hard drive will not inspire you to improve your skills. Make this the year that you print those photos and display them for the world to see. Take your best shots and turn them into greeting cards, photo books, or wall art. Send your favorite photos to friends and family. Inspire yourself with large prints of your work – they’ll remind you of how far you’ve come.
Whatever it takes, make sure you can look at your photos every single day. Otherwise, all you’re left with is more digital clutter taking up space.
Wake Up Early or Stay Up Late
Maybe getting up earlier is one of your New Year’s resolutions anyway, but it can also make you a better photographer — especially if you’re shooting outdoors. The sunlight in the early morning and late evening can turn a humdrum landscape into something magical. It’s also a great tool for shooting portraits, animals, cityscapes, and macro shots.
In fact, unless you’re shooting a mid-day event, the warm light of the rising and setting sun will improve every outdoor shot that you take.
Learn the Rules, and then Break Them
You’ll find that most photographers have a set of rules that they take pictures by. There are all kinds of parameters surrounding the perfect shot. By reading as much as you can and learning from people who have traveled this path before you, you’ll learn about the rule of thirds, proper exposure, and the perfect aperture setting and white balance.
All of these rules will help you develop your skill, but in the end, you can toss them out the window because your individual style and creativity are what make your photos special.
Join a Community of Photographers
If you live in a place where you can meet and share with other photographers, fabulous! But even if you don’t, you can join an online community for inspiration. The 365 Project encourages you to post just one picture every day. Instagram has taken the world by storm with millions of users, and ViewBug offers cool challenges and contests to help keep things interesting.
2016 is the year that you take your photography to the next level. You don’t need fancy new gear, you just need a little inspiration and lots of practice. Make these six resolutions a priority, and you’ll be amazed at what your little black box can do.