This guest blog post is by Aaron Hockley, a professional photographer and writer who tweets too much and blogs a few times each week. His professional work finds him working with businesses for events, publicity, and editorial work; he also creates abstract and travel photos for leisure. In addition to photography for clients Aaron often works with other photographers to help them understand and refine their online and social media presence.
As we reach the end of 2011, we’ll be reading various articles online and in print about resolutions for the new year. Much like the proverbial gym membership which goes unused after the first few weeks of January, I’ve seen photographers drift away from their promises to change their practices once a new calendar begins.
Looking forward to 2012, I’d encourage folks to look at their photography world from two standpoints: that of the art and that of the business. If you’re a hobbyist, the business aspect is irrelevant. If you’re a professional, you’ll find that the art and business are intertwined. Instead of making a big list of resolutions, I’d suggest photographers pick a theme or two for their 2012 goals.
An Artistic Resolution
From an art perspective, where do you want to go? Is it time to dive into the world of off-camera flash? Is this the year to spend some time learning how to make HDR images? Perhaps you want to get serious about black & white for output. It’s great to think about all of the things that you could do, but after that I’d challenge you to pick just one. Instead of a list, let’s choose one theme for the new year.
Getting Down to Business
If you’re a professional (either full or part-time), it’s also wise to make an objective evaluation of your business as we begin a new year. While each business is unique, here are a few items for evaluation:
• What aspect of your business brought in the most revenue in 2011?
• What aspect of your business brought in the least revenue in 2011?
• How much time and effort are required for each of the previous two answers? What’s the return on the time spent? We’re talking “bang for the buck.”
• What marketing are you performing, and what results can you attribute to each form of marketing?
After evaluating your current business situation, decide what will change in 2012. Pick a direction for a business change in the new year. Perhaps it’s the elimination of an unprofitable aspect to your business, or perhaps it’s time for something new. For my business, I’ve decided to begin marketing and selling my abstract photo art.
After the Theme: Action
So now we’ve picked a theme for something new or changed for the art and business of our photography. What next? Next is turning that big theme into actionable tasks. Sit down with your task planning system of choice. Perhaps it’s an application specifically for tracking tasks. Perhaps it’s a blank document in the text editor of your choice. Perhaps it’s a legal pad. It doesn’t matter.
Record your theme and then start brainstorming actions that will help you move towards that goal in 2012. The actions will be depend on your goal, but might contain:
• market research
• learning a technique
• going somewhere
• marketing plans
• studying others’ work
• connecting with other photographers in a genre
• outreach to past clients
• outreach to new clients
Massage your list into a plan. The next step is to do the work. Stop planning and start doing, starting January 1st if not before.
Go to your calendar (again, either electronic or analog, it doesn’t matter) and add some items. Make a note to give yourself a checkpoint on your goals. Set checkpoints for at least once a month, with the first checkpoint no later than Janauary 15th. When you hit a checkpoint, take a look at your efforts and results. If you aren’t moving forward, why not? Do you need to adjust your goal?
Adjusting your goal based on situational feedback is fine and healthy. Abandoning your goal probably isn’t.
2012 can be a great year for your photography. I’d love to know what you’re planning to learn, explore, or change in the coming year. Sound off below in the comments section.