Clean It Up
A New Year’s resolution doesn’t have to be monumental. Maybe, in fact, it’s better to choose something finite that’s easily attainable—like cleaning and organizing your photography equipment. That could include thoroughly cleaning those camera sensors, lens elements, filters and all those other things that collect dirt and grime, whether through use or disuse. Or you could clean out the dust bunnies that have gathered in and around your computer workstation or in the bottom of your camera bag. Heck, maybe you should invest in a new camera bag that will finally allow you to get all your gear in order. Now is as good a time as any, and the convenience of being clean and clutter free will pay dividends all year long.
Back It Up
If you don’t have your digital archive in order, there’s no better time to change that than right now. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail, or so they say, and never has that been truer than with backups of digital image files. At a minimum, make sure you’ve got duplicate copies of your favorite image files on separate hard drives; back them up and keep two copies for the all-but-inevitable time when your primary drive fails. A big step up from that would be getting that duplicate copy off-site, and even better still would be a third copy on a RAID drive for redundancy or a different type of media—perhaps something optical such as DVDs or Blu-Ray discs to provide stability from non-magnetic media. Best of all, though, is a cloud-based backup. Not only does it get the copy of your files off-site, but it also capitalizes on a third-party’s capability to maintain redundant servers and protect your data for the long term. Consider a service, such as CrashPlan, to back up everything you do safely and make it easily accessible off-site. All it takes is losing one of your favorite photos, or an entire shoot, because a drive fails, and you’ll be angry with yourself forever. Because it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Best to think like a Boy Scout and be prepared!
Try Something New
There’s probably no better New Year’s resolution than to learn something new. The good news is there are lots of ways to make that possible as a photographer. You can try a new post-processing technique you’ve read about here or seen on YouTube or you can try a new camera or lighting technique—particularly if it’s something you’ve been putting off. One great way to learn something new is to rent a new lens or camera that you’ve always wanted to test. If you live near a major metropolitan area, you’ve probably got a rental house in town; for everyone else, services such as LensRentals.com make trying out new equipment easy, affordable and it’s delivered right to your front door. Whether you try a new technique or a new piece of equipment, remember that breaking new ground is a great way to grow as a photographer. It’s often pretty fun, too.
Make A Website Or Update Your Old One
If you’re serious about this photography thing, whether as a hobby or a job, make sure you create a place for people to see your work. Beautiful gallery websites are easier and more affordable than ever thanks to site builders such as Squarespace, Zenfolio and many more. If you already have a website, chances are you haven’t updated its contents in much too long, so take the time to add your favorite new photos from the last several weeks, months or (hopefully not) years. If you’re not interested in your own personal website, consider making an effort to show your work online in public galleries, such as 500px, Flickr and more. The positive benefits of seeing how much your work is appreciated by others can be a real boon to your creative spirit, as can hearing the constructive feedback that’s sure to help you improve your photography going forward.
Rekindle Your Love
If you’re a working photographer, it can be too easy to put your photographic passion aside in favor of the day-to-day work that pays the bills. But if you go too long without shooting the kinds of things that got you interested in photography in the first place, that spark can disappear. Try to fan that spark into a flame of passion for photography again by getting a personal project on track. Whether large or small, a passion project does wonders for reigniting the passion for photography that too easily dims. You don’t have to finish the project this year, just make solid progress. Whether it’s something you’ve long wanted to do or if you’ve come up with a project just to get your creative juices flowing, it’s sure to pay off in the long run as it reminds you of your love for photography in the first place.