New Year’s Resolutions for New Photographers

Many of us have received or bought ourselves new digital cameras for Christmas, and with this comes the zeal to create great images. Sadly, the chances of this happening are small, as most of us know that a camera doesn’t take great images, the photographer does. So what resolutions can you make that will start your photography journey in the new year on the right footing?

1. Read your camera manual

Please don’t stop reading this article because I said this. Go back to the box and get the manual out. In order to become a good photographer you need to do just that. Unless you know the basic functions—and specifically, the creative modes—you’re going to struggle to get the good images you see in books and magazines. This is important if you want to proceed to the next resolution. So, at least learn the basic functions if you aren’t up to reading the whole manual.

2. Find a basic photography course

This can be a book, an online course, or a local photography course. Whatever it is, resolve to find something that is going to lay a foundation and teach you the basics. You need to get your foundations right from the get go. If you are a self-starter then find books, magazines, and Internet-based material that you can self-study. Find something that works for you.

3. Plan photography time

Photography is not something you just decide to do when you feel like picking up your camera and taking some shots. You need to plan uninterrupted photography time into your schedule. Not reading or learning time, but finger on the shutter button time. Time dedicated to taking photographs on a daily or weekly basis is so important if you want to go anywhere in your photography journey.

4. Discover your photographic passion

What do you like doing in your life? What are your hobbies or interests? If you are a stamp collector or an extreme sports person, the chances are that you will want to take photos of your passion. This is not always the case but it will help you discover your passion. So sit down, if you don’t already know, and write down what you love doing. Then ask yourself if any of these interests are what you like to shooting. There will be equipment limitations based on your camera and lenses, so work within these restrictions.

new year goals for photographers

photo by Brook

5. Think before you shoot

Put in your mind right at the outset of your photography journey that you are going to think before you shoot. The disease of digital is indiscriminate shooting without a plan, purpose, or thought. It’s like spraying a target with machine gun fire and hoping to hit the bull’s eye. Pretend you are shooting film and only have 36 exposures in your camera. If you can think before shooting rather than hoping that out of a hundred photos a few may be good, you are on your way to becoming a great photographer.

plan your shot

photo by Nick Page

Remember that just because you own a camera it doesn’t mean you are a photographer in the same way owning a box of paints doesn’t make you an artist. Resolve to do these things as you enter a new year with a new camera, and start your new photography journey as you learn. Happy shooting!

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years. Passionate about photography, radio and video, he is a Radio CCFm producer and presenter in Cape Town.

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6 responses to “New Year’s Resolutions for New Photographers”

  1. Sam Cox says:

    Excellent advice, Wayne — all of it. A small improvement to #1 “Read Your Camera Manual” would be to reread it every so often — every 2-3 months or so — to discover more about your camera. I found when I went back to the manual after shooting for a couple of months, I was ready to absorb more from it than on first reading. Also, rereading the manual can help you find new ways to your camera. For example, I learned about “back button focus” from reading the manual again. Even though I’d read that section when I first got the camera, I didn’t have enough experience for that feature to make any sense.

    — Sam

  2. Really great advice. Dead on! Love your facebook status also. So good! : ) Wishing you a very happy 2012~

  3. Wayne Turner says:

    Hi Sam,

    What I found really effective is to use a highlighter pen and the first time you read through the manual you highlight the content that you understand well. Then look at the parts you don’t and resolve to learn one or two of those features. Then at a later date, week or months, you go through it again and highlight those areas you now understand and are putting into practise. This way you learn everything hat is necessary to effectively use your camera.

  4. Dale says:

    Replace your lens cap with a skylight 1b or a UV filter and then throw away the lens cap.

  5. Paul LeSage says:

    Nikon has a great app called Manual Viewer. Carry your manuals with you on a phone or tablet.

  6. Doug Carder says:

    The camera manual has sat in one of my camera bags pretty much since I bought my new camera. Have looked at some chapters/topics however; it’s safe to say I have not READ GHE MANUAL. My 1st photo resolution. After reading the manual. I will reflect to determine another. Very good article.

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