How Photographers Plan to Step Up Their Game in 2016

Image by Omar Robles

Image by Omar Robles

All photos in this post used with permission from their owners.

Photographers always need to stay ahead of the curve and are always looking at ways to not only improve themselves, but also find ways to bring in new business. So the following question was posed to a number of photographers.

Over the next year, how do you plan to become better as a photographer and business person? What’s your overall goal, and how do you intend on getting there?

Sarah Loreth The Phoblographer Interview images (2 of 11)

2015 has been the year of self examination and a shift in priorities. It is my hope to spend this next year traveling and using photography not to further my own business but to use it as a means for good. To help. To serve others. To give back. To possess less, experience more, and create a body of work that has meaning and significance. My goal is to live more ethically, to live kinder, to live more simply, and to use photography as a tool to reflect that be it through volunteering, conservation, or some of my own side projects I’ve been scheming.

Sarah Ann Loreth

Smoked 5

As a photographer, I would like keep reinventing myself from a conceptual standpoint.
As for business, I would like to shoot more jobs that challenge me as a photographer.

My overall goal is to keep doing what I love. To get there, I simply need to keep chiseling away.

Kien Quan: Check him out on Instagram

Processed with VSCOcam with b4 preset

Processed with VSCOcam with b4 preset

As a photographer and business owner I’m continuing to simplify my workflows which I began mid last year. It’s not as easy as it sounds but the rewards are priceless. I’ve been creating all my personal work in monochrome, shooting and finishing in camera. It’s been challenging at the time of capture but the post is virtually non-existent and it helps me sharpen my skills. This workflow reminds me very much of shooting film (which I still do) and I feel it’s a happy medium between digital/analog. Also, and probably the most important, is that this way of creating feeds into my artistic vision which is fulfilling on the deepest level.

Minimalism in my work directly relates to how I operate my business. My business is grounded in the belief that do what I do well and not say yes to every opportunity that comes my way. I’m saying “No” more than ever but doing what I do well VS trying to do everything is the difference between sanity vs insanity.

My overall goal is for my photography and business to transcend the photo world yet still be rooted in photography. It’s easy to get sucked into a conversation of photographic tools but that can sidetrack a potentially deeper relationship with the craft.

Giulio Sciorio: Check him out on Instagram and Twitter.

The Great Londoners

The Great Londoners

I officially launched my limited company a little over a year ago. Each year I aim to double the amount of commissions / paid jobs I take on. I’ve managed it so far in the past four years.
Aside from my photography and cinemagraph creation itself which I push constantly, Social media marketing is my biggest strength so I will keep working hard on maintaining the level of input there too. 90% of my paid work comes via Twitter.

I have been fortunate to work as a professional London based photographer with top brands such as Adidas and Peugeot on cinemagraph and photo projects this year. My focus next year will be to be very selective with who I decide to work with. Either the projects will need to be extremely exciting, or the brand itself. If not, I’ll pass.

It’s the best way to remain in love with photography as if you start taking on projects which from the beginning don’t really appeal to you, you’ll end up hating what you do.
Finally, I want to consolidate my client list and increase the ratio of return clients since it really is the perfect way to grow.

Having said all that, I will also find ways to spend time with my beautiful wife and take my mind off photography as it’s important to rest the creativity which is like a muscle which can at times get tired.

Nicholas Goodden

Storm over Herbert Lake - Banff National Park - Alberta, Canada

As the year passes, we are constantly watching the ebb and flow of sales, traffic, and signups. The data we keep helps us keep a finger on the pulse of our students and followers so that we can continue to improve the products we offer, and our marketing efforts. The goal for the coming year is simple – to build on what we’ve learned so that we can constantly improve the experience for our customers. For example, we want to offer more excellent (and free) learning opportunities on our blog – and we are already working with some of the best photography writers and instructors out there to provide a huge offering. Doing so means that our readers will want to come back for more – and that’s good for business.

Varina Patel

Alyssa Milano photographed for 'Art & Soul' in partnerhip with The Creative Coalition and Sony.

Alyssa Milano photographed for ‘Art & Soul’ in partnerhip with The Creative Coalition and Sony.

I’ve always tried to place equal weight on both art and commerce. Art feeds your soul, but you need commerce to feed your family. When I spend time with friends like Joe McNally, Peter Hurley and Lindsay Adler, I realize they are have figured out the business part better than I have. So this year I’ll try to learn a few things from my friends…

Brian Smith

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For me it’s hard to define 1 clear goal for the next 12 months, but if pushed to answer it would be to help define a sense of focus (no pun intended) and calmness in and around my work.

I think in the past 12 months I’ve learnt a lot about how creativity and business do and don’t work together.

Clients want the world for nothing these days, and learning to say no was a big lesson in 2015, as if you don’t value your time and expertise nobody will.

Sure, you may lose some jobs by not just buckling and saying yes to everything, but valuing your worth, integrity and your expertise within the jobs you do take on is both an empowering and invaluable quality to bring to your work.

Retaining that self-respect is important both for now, and for the growth I hope to undergo in the next 12 months and beyond, with my aim being to continue to define ‘my’ look and feel within my work, and to have the ability to grow creatively, technically and professionally within my commercial work and personal projects.

Lester Jones

OZRC7718

In order to become a better photographer I will continue doing it as I have done to this day which is pushing myself to shoot as much as I can. I’ve found that the more I shoot, the better I get at overcoming challenges. On the business side of things my goal this year is to further my business by working in tandem with brands that conjugate well with my line of work. Travel is definitely on my sight.

Omar Robles

Image by Dave Kai Piper of Ideas and Images_DSF5234-Edit-

Over the next year, how do you plan to become better as a photographer and business person? What’s your overall goal, and how do you intend on getting there?

2014 & 2015 have been wild ones – seriously, you could not of made it up if you tried. Both in good and bad ways. I got my teaching job at Wolverhampton Uni. Guest Lecturer on a Wednesday afternoon – it was and is a massive step for me. More than anything it was somewhat of a personal achievement to myself. Lacking in confidence and direction is something I have been guilty of for long time now and this was one of those things I used to get over the invisible hurdles that was in my way. I did it, I set the challenge and I did it. So 2016 – whats next…

Personal work – that is my 2016. I still don’t have much spare cash in the bank but I have a little more confidence, and in this game – that can be worth it’s weight in gold. Watching photographers like Ben Von Wong, Lara Jade, Felix Kunze and to some extent Joey L grow is a daunting prospect. It’s hard to not self blame when you see people grow at such an increasing rate, do all the things that you want to do yet make it so look so easy. It seems so effortless for them, but I seem to get stuck in the mud whenever I try and just live day to day. I have had shoots where I just was not able to get the camera in focus this year. So – in 2016 I am going to try something, total 100% positivity. Yup, everyday…. no more self blame and no more self pity. I am going to finish my two projects – both are small things and nothing major – but I need to finish them. For my own needs, I need to finish this chapter in a positive way and move forward. I am going to get my new portfolio finished and up before the end of February.

Don’t get me wrong – 2015 was not a bad year, by far it was the most successful year I have ever had, I have created some of my personal favorite images this year and after January will see me hit a target I have been working on for 5 years. That’s FIVE years ago I said something to my self and it will happen, just a few days away from my 33rd birthday. But all year I still had that feeling that I was going at full steam, 2016, I want to take that step up and mentally shift into another gear.

In 2016 will see the start of another element of my photography kick in. Ideas & Images have been working with a printing company called Fotospeed under the radar for a couple of years on a few small projects. Next year, with Fotospeed’s backing I am going to exhibit more and more work into gallery spaces. This is, for me, a nerve wrecking thing. But as part of my new move towards a fearless approach – getting my work out and showcased has to happen. For a long time the idea of being judged did worry me and put me off.

Business wise, we have been working very closely with Simon Ellingworth and his new project Amersham Studios along with strengthening ties with companies like FujiFilm. In 2015 we did both the 16-55mm and the 35mm lens sample images – as a fan these jobs are pretty much the best jobs I could dream for. We have just finished a job for Peli in the UK too – that was pretty cool as we shot it in Wovlerhampton Uni with the students as my team. Growing and strengthening the brand is always the key goal and if we can help educate along the way then that is going to be amazing for me. I was not working on the Photography show this year, but was invited to talk for a couple of companies – which was just as amazing. We did a couple of talks for Smug Mug & Fotospeed & a FujiFilm walk around Birmingham. Next year for the show, we have already had a number of requests from even more people. I guess everything is building day by day. Personally for me, the show each year is a interesting thing. It’s a way I can work out how well I am doing year to year – in regards to my photography profile. A few years ago I was that young kid looking up and dreaming of working with Fujifilm or some camera company. And now I am that person. It’s pretty bonkers really. This neatly takes me on to another thought…. Photographers and Social Media. Still don’t understand it all. I know for a fact I am loosing money as my social stats are not that big. Like, nothing compared to the people around me. I am VERY sure I loose money these days when companies look at my social stats before my portfolio. The idea that I need to put more time into ‘social’ is something on my mind daily. In 2015, I did make a noted difference in the way I used FB. I do the – never post anything negative thing. It worked a little bit but the, not posting anything personal was too tough and I caved in. I noted that most of the people with big followings ONLY post directly about what they work wise and strictly keep to it – it seems to work for most people but I like to Instagram my life as well as my work, it seems to hold back my social stats from growing. I dunno – maybe my work is just crap and no one likes it… the most simple answer is usually the right one. Either way… growing the social awareness of my work has to be one of those things I tackle in 2016.

I have just been reading back on what I wrote last year too. I mentioned the work / life balance – and shooting less. Still firmly agree with both of points. And I still think that the work you turn down is just as important as the work you take. This year has been filled with better jobs and better paying jobs too. I did put more time into personal projects but in some ways failed to do what I really wanted. I didn’t do enough on this front. There was another thing I wrote last year and it’s odd because it seems way more relevant that ever –

The personal things that have happened around me this year and the people who known me personally might really of noticed this more but, yeah. I have been stubborn, selfish and tempestuous. I have been arrogant and at times less respectful of the help given to me. I have got a few things wrong this year and I have been bitten. Quite rightly in hindsight.

We are photographers. We document. We see. We observe. We create happiness and capture sadness. We are all human and many of us wear our hearts on selves. We are emotional people and react as such. We are not perfect and we need to look after our minds just much as we look after our wallets. That is what I have learn’t this year.

The silly thing is , I don’t really think I did learn it. I feel like I have now, but maybe that is the point. As time moves along, our view points do too. We never stop learning and we can always look back and see better ways to be human. The other thing that this makes me think is that, no matter what happens, stand up, dust yourself down and get back up. It’s not how many times you fall over that counts, it’s how many time you get back up again that counts.

As to overall goals, I should really make some I think. Proper ones, So lets see, by the time Chris sends me another e-mail next December. I will of

• Had my first tattoo
• Been to Japan
• Got my first Kitten
• Finished both my personal projects and have a blurb book made
• Shot a major global advert for Fuji
• Had a gallery exhibition in London & NYC
• Had dinner with Chris Gampat, Ben Von Wong, Joey L, Lara Jade, Sylivie Blum & Robert Voltaire
• Shot a cover for a Major music artist
• Shot a major advert for an airline
• Cover of Rolling Stone.

There we go, in public, that’s my 2016…. hummm I better bet busy.

Dave Kai Piper