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What I’m about to tell you isn’t a secret. It’s come from a whole lot of experience as a photographer, a blogger, an employer, an Editor in Chief, and as a human being. It’s easy to feel like your images aren’t that great. It’s true; sometimes your images can really, really suck. But you know what sucks even worse? Constantly being compared to others. I’d know. Do you have any idea how many times we’ve been wrongly compared to other photography blogs? Do you know how many things folks have gotten plain wrong about The Phoblographer? Well, I’m not going to tell you to get over it. I’m going to tell you to get over them. Here’s how to do some photography self-improvement.
First off, stop paying attention to the competition unless you absolutely need to. You shouldn’t be obsessively checking in on what they’re doing. All the hours spent on Instagram or social media looking at what they do should be spent doing something else. Specifically, replace that activity with building yourself and your work. This is what I call photography self-improvement. Remove the competition from your feeds. If something big enough and important enough comes up, then they’ll somehow hear about it. But otherwise, you should really, truly focus on yourself.
One of the most helpful things I’ve done is given someone a one-year plan. Plans for yourself and your creativity are best thought of as the Star Wars or the Lord of the Rings series. Let’s think of this in terms of the LOTR movies. There is a major, one-story arc, but each book or movie in the series is a story arc as well. Each year, you should have three big goals. Each of those goals should be accomplished by three medium goals. Those smaller goals all need their own steps to be accomplished too. By getting all the smaller goals done, you’ll have a medium goal completed. By getting all three medium goals completed, you’ll have progressed in an entire stage of your career. So how do I break this down? Well, I’ll approach this from my own personal goals with blogging.
- Big Goal: Increase traffic
- Medium Goal 1: Look for new traffic sources
- Medium Goal 2: Stop relying on social media and constantly bring people back to the site
- Medium Goal 3: Go after new readers
- Small goal 1: Explore social news reader apps
- Small goal 1: Look at other search engines
- Small goal 1: Increase people linking to our website because we’re an authority
- Small goal 1: Do everything that increases search engine visibility
- Small goal 2: etc.
Now how does this relate to photography self-improvement?
- Big goal: Do a series of multiple exposure portraits and photos
- Medium goal 1: Stroboscopic ideas
- Medium goal 2: Actual multiple exposures
- Medium goal 3: Those cool overlay images
- Small goal 1: Line up athletes to shoot monthly
- Small goal 1: Capture people in motion
- Small goal 1: Study how people are doing this method
- Small goal 1: Listen to people talk about their day and figure out how to illustrate it
- Small goal 2: People in multiple places in the images
- Small goal 2: Emotional story telling
- Small goal 2: Constantly line up shoots
- Small goal 2: Get people into the studio to just experiment with props
- Small goal 3: Shoot tons of backgrounds
- Small goal 3: Shoot silhouettes of people and combine them with patterns
- Small goal 3: Get very experimental
- Small goal 3: Have fun along the way
No matter what you do, focus on yourself. Build you. Cut the negativity out unless you believe you can truly look at it as an obstacle to overcome. But most folks don’t do that; they focus on just themselves. This is how you can do some critical photography self-improvement.