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New Year's Resolutions for Photographers

New Year is the traditional time to look back at the year just gone and to look forward to the year to come. This is valuable as a photographer as well as personally. Looking back allows you to assess what you’ve achieved in the past twelve months. Looking forwards is a good way to work out what you’d like to achieve before the next new year comes round.

Boats on Crag Lough in Hadrian's Wall Country on a summer's evening, Northumberland, England

Assessing your photography can be a difficult task. It’s always easier to be objective about someone else’s photography than your own. However, there’s an argument to be made that you’re doing well as a creative photographer if, in the space of a year, you produce ten images that are better than anything you’ve produced before. These are images that show real artistic or technical development compared to previous years.

Field of poppies and cow parsley near Bambrugh, Northumberland, England

The first step then is to look for these images. It’s worth spending time over this process. A morning or afternoon would be reasonable period, particularly if you’ve had a productive year. The images on this page are some of my favourites from this year – though I've not allowed myself the opportunity yet to assess this year's collection thoroughly. Perhaps I'll do that early January before work begins again in earnest.

Oak leaf on a rock shelf waterfall on Hareshaw Burn, Northumberland National Park, England

Once you’ve made your selection (and made a note of your choice for future reference) it’s then time to work out why those images are the best. Think about what you did to produce the images. Did you spend more time than usual composing or thinking about exposure? Or, were the images created more intuitively? Once you’ve worked this out think about how you can recreate this way of shooting in the future.

Sea gulls on a roof in Whitby, silhouetted against an evening sky, Yorkshire, England

The immediate future is of course the year that stretches ahead. I don’t know about you but I always feel a tingle of excitement and optimism in early January. There is a sense that anything can be achieved if I put my mind to it. The key is work out a series of goals. Goals such as starting (and possibly completing) an interesting photographic project or shooting in an unfamiliar location, either close to home or even in a new country entirely.

White-tailed bumblebee exploring a Goldenrod plant  on a roadside verge overlooking Billsmoor Park near Elsdon, Northumberland, England

The most challenging goal is to learn a new photographic skill. Last year I vowed to master the use of flash as a creative tool. This year’s goal? Well, hmmm actually I think it’s still to master flash as a creative tool (though much progress has been made during 2013).

Star trail of the south-western sky over Buachaille Etive Mor in the Scottish Highlands

It’s slightly daunting to start to learn something new. However, there’s no reason to do so alone. Joining a local photography club is a good way to tap into the experience of others (and make new friends along the way). Another good way to learn something new is to enrol on a photography course. Rather usefully you're looking at this blog on the very website that will enable you to do this. Just click on the 'Courses' link above to find out more.

What ever you do in 2014, make it a good year. Happy New Year Everyone!

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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