Did Your Photography Improve in 2011?

Totem, Cane Bayou, December 2011. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Totem, Cane Bayou, December 2011. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

I think that as the year draws to a close, it’s useful to look back and ask yourself: ‘Did my photographic vision grow in 2011?’ This is something that can be instructive as we think back and look ahead as photographers…

If you are a beginning photographer, this is of course an easy question to answer: you’ve been deeply involved in learning the basics of your camera, exposure, lighting, etc. In the early years, you’ll find yourself growing by leaps and bounds as you experiment with all of the aspects that go into being a photographic artist.

Gradually though, this becomes a harder assessment to make. You’ve already learned all of the fundamentals about your gear and how it works. Maybe you’ve gotten serious about doing your own printing or exploring alternative photographic processes. Maybe you’ve gone ‘old school’ and taken up shooting with film cameras. Maybe you’ve become interested in mastering photographic lighting. So at this point in your shooting career, you need to look a bit more closely to assess your progress.

Here are a few simple questions that might help you think about this:

Looking back over this year, have the quality of my images improved?

Is there an area of photography that I focused upon?

Did I set any photo goals for myself? Did I reach them?

Does the simple act of shooting still bring me joy?

This last question might be the most important of all: do you still occasionally get that chill/thrill when out shooting, that magic feeling that got you hooked on photography in the first place? If you can’t answer this one with a resounding ‘Yes!!’, it may be time to really reflect on how you’re spending your time…

Palmetto, Cane Bayou marsh, 2011.  (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

Palmetto, Cane Bayou marsh, 2011. (Copyright 2011 / Andrew Boyd)

You may have other relevant questions that come to mind when making this type of self-assessment. I’ll do another post in a few days that looks back at my 2011 New Year’s Resolutions and how I did, as well as setting some new personal goals for 2012. It might be time to think about this for yourself as well.

Happy shooting!
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

Posted in: Inspire

About the Author:

Photographer, videographer and photo editor. Host and creator of The Discerning Photographer web site. Currently a Canon shooter.

2 Comments on "Did Your Photography Improve in 2011?"

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  1. hemidancer says:

    2011 was a very good year for me as a photographer. I feel as though I grew by leaps and bounds on so many levels, including technical skill, photographic vision and overall creativity.

    Looking back over this year, have the quality of my images improved?

    Without question. I finally managed to leave the ‘spray and pray’ mentality behind and replaced it with patience, new skills and good instincts that I have learned to trust and rely upon and will continue to develop and improve upon for years to come.

    Is there an area of photography that I focused upon?

    Yes – wedding photography! Although I have come to realize that it is not an area of photography I necessarily want to pursue, the experience that I gained from shooting the dozen weddings that I managed to book this year has proven to be immeasurable, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

    Did I set any photo goals for myself? Did I reach them?

    Yes – I wanted to break into the world of wedding photography, and I did it – all by myself. I tried it and discovered that I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I thought I would, but I do not in any way consider it a failure. Rather, I can cross it off my bucket list of photographic accomplishments and add an arsenal of experience and new skills to my repertoire.

    Does the simple act of shooting still bring me joy?

    Oh, you bet it does. We took a very brief trip down to Colonial Williamsburg, VA a couple of weeks ago, and we only had a couple of hours to spend there, but I was like a kid in a candy store! I could have spent DAYS there. Photography is a hobby for me, and the one thing that this last year has taught me is that I want to KEEP it that way. If you can make a living with your photography, more power to you. But it’s not for me. Although I do enjoy making a little pocket change here and there with a few print sales or the occasional private event, what really does it for me is just hitting the road and letting nothing but my imagination dictate what ends up on my SD card.

    2012 for me will be about continuing to develop and improve upon my skills and instincts as a photographer. I have an inner confidence now that I can honestly say did not exist a year ago. However there is still SO MUCH room for improvement! I think the thing I love most about photography is the more I learn, the more I want to learn.

    Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

    Elin

  2. Wow, Elin! Thanks for sharing your ‘status report’ with us here!

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