The New Year’s Goals of 9 Famous Photographers


Image by Bill Wadman. Used with permission

Every photographer has to keep striving to move forward. The only way to do this is to set goals for yourself and find specific ways to accomplish them. It’s not only how a photographer can progress and become better, but it’s also core to the foundation of any business. So when you are both a creative and a business person who markets their creative abilities, how do you move forward in two different ways?

We spoke to many different photographers about how they plan on improving themselves this year.

Bill Wadman

Of course there is the ‘working more with my agent to get more of the kind of jobs I’d like to have’ answer, but that’s easy and a given. The harder answer is with my personal work.

I’m going to continue shooing portraits in my corner set as much as possible, but there is something else which I’ve had a hard time defining. I’ve been searching for a new personal portrait project that will interest, engage, and challenge me. I’m leaning toward an environmental series at the moment, but it’s hard. In the past, whenever I’ve tried to define before I start, I fail. The only way it works for me is if one day I take a picture that lights a fuse like the opening credits of Mission Impossible and I hang on for the ride. So I’ve got to put myself in a position to have that epiphany so I plan to shoot, a lot, in the coming weeks.

I’ve also got a couple short films I’ve been meaning to finish for a while so there’s that as well. While I’m not interested in becoming a filmmaker in a professional sense, I’m still on the fun and fast part of the learning hockey stick with it.

Finally there is also On Taking Pictures, the podcast which Jeffery and I plan to grow as much as possible. I’ve got a few essays in the works that I will be posting on Medium in the coming weeks. All in all a full slate I think.

– Bill Wadman. Also see our Creating the Photograph post and our chat with him about his 365 project.

Matthew Jordan Smith

As a photographer my goal for 2015 is to inspire every child and family in America by visually showing that every child has the right to aspire to greatness and achieve it. My new photo book, Future American President is focused on this goal of inspiring children to dream big by showing children all over America, and from every state doing just that, dreaming big.

As I create new bodies of work in 2015, I would like to create powerful iconic images that elevates my work and satisfies my soul at the same time.

– Matthew Jordan Smith

Nicole Fara Silver

The Strokes perform at Governors Ball 2014

Image by Nicole Fara Silver. Used with permission


2014 was a stellar year. It was the year I was face to face with the likes of Patti Smith, Chris Stein, Bob Gruen, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, Weezer, Questlove, Boy George. It was SXSW, being on stage with The Strokes at Governors Ball, photographing Robert Plant at Brooklyn Bowl. The year I was published internationally, finally made it into Rolling Stone print, the New York Times. It was dancing on stage with Young the Giant and midnight pool lessons with Arctic Monkeys at Firefly Festival. I nervously rambled my way through a second B&H talk, shot my first album cover, and finally made it to Nashville. I met some incredible artists who I am lucky enough to call my friends. It’s hard to believe that anything can top 2014.

My goals for 2015? To make a fresh start. To get out of my comfort zone and back to basics. I want to shoot more film and refine my studio lighting skills. I want to get closer to my subjects. To make more portraits. I want to go on tour! But most importantly, I want to to keep moving forward. If you don’t grow as a person, your art won’t grow either. Fear is not an option!

– Xo Nicole. Nicole also talked to us about being a concert photographer.

Todd Owyoung

In 2015, my goal is to do a complete refresh of my portfolio site with entirely new work, from my live music work and artist portraits to my music lifestyle portfolio. As a rock photographer, I’m always chasing that next epic image. It’s really easy to fall back on established images, especially when one has built up a portfolio that continues to bring in work, but I always want to continue to grow as a photographer.

I’ve also had a tremendous amount of fun with my project The Image Story this year — I’m incredibly proud of the selection of images we’ve had the privilege of showcasing on the site. It’s been amazing to connect with so many amazing photographers and share inspiring photography this year, I’m looking at kicking that site into even higher gear in 2015.

– Todd Owyoung

Jeremy Cowart

The photo industry, as a whole, is too unpredictable and ever-changing. So I find my goals to be more from a personal perspective and less a professional prospective. Plus I think professional goals are easier and personal goals are harder. That being said, my first and foremost goal in 2015 is to be more present with my family.

Not physically present because that part is easy. I mean mentally present…putting the laptop and phone away and focusing on and listening to my children. Their days are flying by and I don’t want to miss them. But being my own boss and an entrepreneur, it’s very easy and tempting to work (literally) around the clock and check that next mail or tend to that next fire. But I don’t want to miss the important moments in my children’s lives. So there’s a daily, constant choice to make and it’s easier said than done. But I hope in 2015 that I make the right choice more often than not.

Jeremy Cowart

Brian Smith

My New Year’s Resolution is to keep my website updated with new content – no matter how busy I am shooting, speaking, writing or attending wine or beer tastings. Though no promises when it comes to those last two. I’m hoping that this year’s resolution actually sticks since I actually started following it in November.

Brian Smith. Also see our interview with the portrait legend.

Moshe Zusman

2015 is all about new business ventures for me which brings more creativity, new relationships and of course great photos!

I am starting a branch of my company for headshots alone.

Moshe Zusman

Howard Shooter

After an excellent year last year I want to build on the momentum and hopefully further solidify my reputation as a food photographer who specializes in re-branding and working with creative, high profile companies. The most important aspect is always feeling that you are moving forward, learning, creating and improving. You can never be complacent about where the next job is coming from and always try and improve on the last shoot.

Apart from anything, this year I would like to book out a few more days for test shoots and really work hard to be pro-active in moving food photography into new and interesting directions. On a practical level I am hoping to build my second hire studio which will be designed as a social media film/movie studio specialising in food. With luck this will start towards the end of 2015. Finally I would love to see my brand Howard Shooter Studios, further establish itself internationally. I feel the year will be quite a busy one!

Howard Shooter, also check out our interview with him.

Michael Kamber

In 2015, I want to get Tim Hetherington’s books from storage–his mother gave them to me–and open up the only photo library in the Bronx.

Michael Kamber and the Bronx Documentary Center

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.