12 Photography-Centric New Year's Resolutions

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New Year’s resolutions: We all know them as thoughts about positive changes that we wish to enact in the new year, and we are also aware that many do not survive through the end of the professional football season. Diets and exercise all seem like grand ideas with which to spring into the new calendar year, but, often, the road to summer swimsuit bodies is paved with the best of intentions. In the spirit of the season, let me share with you my (too personal?) photography-centric New Year’s resolutions. Maybe my personal goals/confessional will inspire your own. And by all means, feel free to inspire me with your own resolutions in the Comments section below the prose.

Photographs © Todd Vorenkamp

1. Procrastinate Later

A dear friend who used to work at B&H had a sign above her desk that said, “Procrastinate NOW Later.” The sign is in my cubicle today. In Eureka, CA, a Mexican restaurant had neon beer signs in four narrow recessed windows on the back wall. From the roadside, each windowsill glowed in a different shade of neon. In Charlestown, RI, an old gas station felt like a charming patch of light on a dark stretch of Route 1 as I passed to and from my favorite nearby park where I would shoot astrophotography. What do both of these places have in common? Both establishments closed down before I could take the photograph(s) that I had so vividly seen in my mind’s eye. I have no excuse for not getting the images; I just kept putting it off until, finally, it was impossible to take the photos I had seen. It is time to end that type of procrastination. When I see a photo, I will capture it!

2. Get Out More

Not to make you jealous, but I feel beyond lucky to have this job at B&H where I can write about my passion—photography. It often entails taking photos to illustrate articles. For those of us who fill cubicles for a living, there is a certain gravitational pull from the computer and workstation that sometimes keeps me from getting out and shooting photos for these articles as much as I should. I need to overcome that gravitational force and get more fresh air.

3. Use More Macro

I really enjoy macro photography when I do it, but I don’t find myself doing it often. I need to change that and get closer more often. Perhaps a new macro lens will help fuel my resolution? Let’s see how many B&H Gift Cards I get over the holidays.

4. Take One-Lens Walks

You are reading the Explora blog on the B&H Photo website. You likely have photographic GAS (gear-acquisition syndrome). Guess who also has it? Everyone who works here! Years ago, I felt like I had all the lenses I needed to get through life. Now, I have a bunch more. Each and every lens I own is capable of capturing great photographs, but there are some that rarely leave the shelf. I need to grab these unused, but very good, lenses and take each one out for a walk from time to time. It is either that, or I should bring them to the Used Department and get some cash.

5. Catch up on Post-Processing

I am more than a year behind in post-processing images. I was at a "National Parks at Night" workshop last November. Did you enjoy the photos? Of course you didn’t, because no one has seen them! I have office work, freelance photography work, and school work (I teach photography online). None of that combines to give me much free time to spend with my own photographs. And, when I do have free time, I don’t often want to be in front of the computer because screen time is a huge part of those three professional activities. But, seriously, I need to get these photos processed and maybe, if any of them are good, share them with friends and family. It is time to catch up…when between semesters.

6. Embrace Bad Weather

When did I become a fair-weather shooter? I honestly don’t know, but that has to change. Rain, snow, and gross heat shouldn’t stop anyone from making photographic art. When I have a chance, I should dress appropriately and get the heck out there and make photos.

7. Less Smartphone Camera, More "Real" Camera

I used to carry a camera almost everywhere I went. Now I just carry my camera phone. Yes, smartphone cameras are getting better and better. No, they are still not the equivalent of a “real" camera. I need to bring my real camera with me more often. Even if I don’t get the most amazing photos, at least I will be ready to capture them when they appear. I resolve to carry my camera this year.

8. Revisit My Photo Books

I have a ton of photo books and have looked through them all. But, I have not looked through them all lately. I think that once a weekend, I ought to pull one photography book off the shelf and soak up the images and the photographer and think about their photographs and their approach to the art. A side benefit is that Jaime might think that I actually do something with the huge stack of books I own.

9. Read LensWork

In the same vein as the last resolution, my favorite photography magazine is Brooks Jensen’s LensWork. It is beyond fantastic. On my file cabinet, I have rows of chronologically organized read LensWork magazines. Above the rows is a stack of horizontal chronologically organized unread LensWork magazines. It is a bimonthly magazine, so, if I enjoy the photographs and read the articles (especially Guy Tal’s column) of just one issue a month, I will catch up and then be ready for the next issue in a few months.

10. Spend Time on My Personal Projects

My personal photography projects seem to get less love on social media than my snapshots. That is OK (I tell myself, with tears streaming down my cheeks). I currently have a personal project underway and I need to think of more images to add to that project. Also, I need to start thinking of the next project after this one and pursue it with the same passion and interest. Personal fine art photography projects feed my photographic soul. I need to continue to work on personal projects.

11. Photograph What Fin Sees

This autumn, a beautiful baby boy arrived in my world. My new roommate is just getting his vision aligned and he loves staring at different things—usually high-contrast scenes. As much as I enjoy photographing Fin, I think I will also try my hand at photographing the things that gain his intent and curious gaze. Maybe, one day in the future, we can look back at these images and share some memories and smile. 

12. Keep Seeing

Whether or not I have a camera (or smartphone) near, I always try to be looking for photographs—seeing. This kind of seeing does not come naturally for most of us, and I find that it requires not so much conscious thought, but more of a constant reminder to participate in active seeing. Very much as personal photo projects feed my artistic soul, practicing seeing photographs, with or without a camera in hand, keeps whatever photographic skills I have a bit sharper. Keep seeing!

So, there are my dozen photographic New Year’s resolutions. Some are personal and specific. Some are vague and universal. Having engaged in public therapy here, I would really like to hear what your photo-centric New Year’s resolutions are. Please comment below.

4 Comments

Todd, it does my heart good to hear that somebody else is further behind in printing their work than I am! :)  OTOH, I'm not a pro, so I have the excuse of not being as busy as you!  I usually run 3-4 months behind, but if things stay quiet, I might be able to get closer than that.  :)

Thanks, Henry! My new roommate is keeping me from getting much done these days!

Happy New Year!

Todd,
All of your ideas are excellent motivational prods. 
Often, it is only just such a thing needed to create the creative spark that leads us onward to a new level of accomplishment. 
Thinking as to what I could do to improve my own work, I believe what might do the trick is shooting the opposite manner of what I am inclined to do when confronting a familiar subject. Instead of wide, shoot tight, instead of tight, shoot wide. 
We shall see.

Thanks, Dennis! Great stuff! Have you seen my 13 Creative Exercises article?

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/13-creative-exercises-for-photographers

Happy New Year!

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