For all of December I like to do these personal episode where I talk about things I learned throughout the year or things I think could help you in the new year and as usual I had a blast. But this is the last episode of 2018 so next week we will be back to our regularly scheduled interviews. Which I’m sure is welcome news to those sick of listening to my voice.
The end of the year is a perfect time to reflect on the past year and look to the future. Last year I made a list of 5 way to jump start your photography in 2018. And although I called it a jumpstart, I felt like the tips were more foundational.
Last year I suggested to
all this last year I think I did really well with this list.
Share your photos
The idea here is that you’re a photographer, you should be taking and sharing photos. But I think I took less personal photos this year than most. I started using an app called 1 second a day which is short 1 second video clips which you can compile into a month long chunks and then year long videos too. I love it. But I realized too late that I really don’t have to put in a ton of effort making the videos great. I use it to document my kids and just hearing their voices from a year ago has been a crazy progression. I don’t have to worry too much about lighting and composition and making it an event to get the 1 second because then its kinda fake. I should spend that energy in 2019 to create more family photos.
I did do a lot of experimenting this year. From video with a GoPro on top of my camera, to trying out new lighting techniques, and even with the core of my business. In this area I really excelled this year and will not be stopping in 2019
Be the dumbest person in the room
At the beginning of the year I was in a mastermind group with some other photographer and it was doing great things for my business and just having some support. It fell apart and through the chaos of the summer just kept myself busy. Once weddings slowed down I was asked to join a 1 day in person mastermind with business owners of other fields (fitness, automotive, real estate, copy editing) and I even though they didn’t have any knowledge of photography the had practical tips for my problems and I felt like I had some helpful tips for their problems. It really ignited an excitement in me and I will be putting more value to that in 2019.
Don’t buy any new gear
I aced this. I didn’t buy any new gear in 2019 except for like batteries or expendables. Pens, memory cards, I had to replace a flash. But no new cameras (well except a GoPro that I bought for our trip to Iceland which was so worth it). I really fell like I became much better acquainted with the abilities of my camera and lenses by being forced to stick with them. I wanted to upgrade to an xt3 but I didn’t. I wanted to get a 70-200 but I didn’t. I made what I had, work. My bank account thanked me too as I was able to bring home more money because of it.
Print your photos
I printed more photos. Thanks to Brian Caporici I made same day albums a big thing this year at weddings and every one of my couples went crazy for them. They were all SHOCKED that I was able to create one while at their wedding. These albums are nothing fancy either. They are instant prints glued onto black card stock and put in a $5 book from hobby lobby. The point being, that having something physical made their wedding day feel real. That’s what prints do. We had family photos taken at the beginning of the year and I had those photos framed and I gave them to my wife for Mother’s Day. I did the same thing with family photos for my mom for the holidays. Having something to hold on to, makes it so much more than just pretty.
So I sat down and started thinking about how to become a better photographer in 2019. I thought about what worked and what didn’t work for 2018 and ultimately while I did a good job following my own advice, it was too much. You’re not going to listen to that episode every month and reevaluate how you’re doing. So in 2019 I want you to do just one thing.
Focus on yourself.
That’s it. That’s the one thing. And its only one thing because I want you to do it really well. I think it was Ansle Adams who said this quote.
There are two people in every photograph. The viewer and the photographer.
Photography is a reflection of yourself. No one else.
2019 is the year of yourself. Not in a selfish way.
Be happy for every other photographer! Don’t look at them as competitors. They are somewhere different than you in your photography journey! You can’t expect to be where they are. When you are happy for them or love their work you build a mindset of abundance which may sound woowoo and like I’m not living in “the real world” but is sooooo much more powerful than trying to build the biggest building in town by tearing down everyone else.
Focus on yourself.
The most successful photographers I can think of are not successful because they copied what everyone else was doing, they are successful because they focused on themself. I’m not saying don’t take others advice or try something you heard from another photographer, what I’m saying is ultimately you have to decide what you want to do and how to use the info you are given.
Since we are all somewhere different in our journey this info will be mean something different to everyone but in 2019 spend less time worrying about or comparing yourself to other photographers.
Your art is different than theirs
We all see things differently. There is that story of twin brothers ho were raised by an alcoholic father. One boy became an alcoholic and the other one never touched a drop of alcohol in his whole life. And when asked why they turned out the way they did, they each had the same answer “Having a father like mine, how could I not” The boys had the same father and yet came up with wildly different interpretations.
Art is the same. You could look at the same thing as another photographer and come up with something totally different then them. So don’t look at work from other photographers and think “I could have done that” Think I CAN do that.
The camera they use won't make your work better
The camera is such a small portion of what makes a photo. I know what you’re thinking, “If that’s true why do professionals spend 10X more on a professional body” Well there are differences in performance but mainly its about build quality and some specific features that are important to the type of work they shoot. Wedding photographers value fast autofocus, sports photographers value high frame per second shooting, ext. Those things can make their job easier but it won’t make their images better. Every photo ever taken has been captured using just 3 settings. Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO. So stop blaming the camera for photos you’re not happy with.
Their marketing wont be as powerful coming from you
When I first went into business I thought “If I just look at other photographers marketing material then I can figure out what I need to do” What I was missing was the fact that I’m not that good with words lol. So If I copied their eloquently written ads, no matter how well they worked or how many couples contacted me they would be expecting something different and I would come off as not being genuine. It took me taking a long time trying that, it not working, and then going out on a limb and trying an ad using humor to work for me.
The way you learn is different from how they learn
In high school on of my classmates soaked up every ounce of info by reading, and for me, I couldn’t comprehend anything by reading it. I could have read until my eyes bleed to try and get better at it but I would have only got marginally better and never would have got as good as her. Because that’s who I am. I had to learn how to learn on my own. I learn best by doing. I learn best when I get my hands dirty. That’s why Ive had to do a lot of sessions I wasn’t happy with. That’s why Ive had to spend a ton of money on advertising. Because that’s how I learn.
You’re at a different point in your photography journey than anyone else is. Do what feels right for YOU. Try new things that YOU want to do. Don’t just try things you saw on instagram. Play to your strengths. If you follow my 1 tip I know that 2019 is going to be massive for you. I want to hear you’re biggest take away from todays episode. Message me on instagram. RHatfieldPhoto. I’d love to know what it is.
That’s it for this week. Next week we will be back to our regularly scheduled interviews so until next week Keep shooting, Focus on you, and stay safe!
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