As with many other things, setting goals for your photography is one of the best ways to improve your results. Without goals to reach for, we wander aimlessly about, shooting new versions of our old photos, recommitting the same mistakes we made last year, never really improving artistically.
I set yearly goals for my photography, my ‘Photographic New Year’s Resolutions.’ While I’ll review those at the end of this year, thinking about how to set up some goals for your own shooting can be useful, even if it’s not December 31st.
So: if you buy my premise that goals can be good for your photographic work, you’re probably wondering, ‘What goals should I set? What are the right, achievable and measurable goals to set for myself?’
Your goals will be as unique as you are as a shooter. They’ll be different if you want to shoot sports vs. landscapes. Maybe you want to become the next Chase Jarvis.
Regardlesss, if your goals are to work, here are some common characteristics that they must share.
1. They must be measurable.
2. They must hold you accountable. That is, you must make them public, somehow, somewhere, so as to not lose sight of what you’re trying to achieve. (For instance, you could publish them right here in the Comments below!)
3. They must have a time frame. Deciding that you ‘want to become the next photographer to have a one-man show at MOMA’ might sound like a nice goal, but by when?
4. They must include a review mechanism. Just like having a yearly review at your job, you should have a clear-eyed review of your photographic goals. I like to do this at the end of each year.
5. They should be achievable. You do yourself no favors by setting unrealistic goals, or goals that will take years to develop, and then expecting it all to happen overnight. Figure out a plan to reach those bigger goals, and define a reasonable chunk of it to work on now.
So: what are you waiting for? Sit down right now, take out a pad and pen and do some brainstorming: what are your photographic goals? How will you achieve them? In what time frame? I promise that if you go through this simple process, you’re almost guaranteed to improve as a photographer.
Hi, I’m Andrew Boyd, a.k.a. The Discerning Photographer, and I hope this post has been interesting and informative. Please leave me a comment about it, let me know what you’d like to see more of on the site! You can also sign up for email delivery of all future articles or my RSS feed. Or subscribe to our Facebook page or our Twitter feed. Thanks!–DiscerningPhotog