Getting Ready for 2012 – Or 12 New Year’s Resolutions for Photographers

When my friend Brad Moore at Kelby Training emailed and asked me to do a guest blog post about getting ready for 2012, I said, “Absolutely.” That’s after I said “thank you” to Brad, Scott and RC for thinking about me for this post.

Saying “thank you” is important. More on that topic later in this post.

I said “Absolutely” because that’s exactly what I have been doing for the past few months. As a photographer, professional or enthusiast, you gotta plan ahead.

After carefully considering the many things we, as photographers, need to do in the planning process, I picked my top 12 recommendations for 2012.

Here goes.

1. Set goals
If you don’t set goals, you really don’t know where you are going – and how you are going to get there. Perhaps more important, once you set a goal, fine-tune that goal as you move toward it.

For example, say you want to become a better people photographer. That’s a good goal for sure. But setting the more specific goal of making better portraits or environmental portraits (showing the person in his or her environment) is a more specific goal. In this case, study the work of well-known pros – and painters – to see how they create wonderful pictures and paintings. Study light – shadows and highlights.

To make my “Girl with a Pearl Earring” photograph, I studied the painting, “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” by the Dutch master, Johannes Vermeer.

Put some shooting dates on your calendar. Put what you learned to use. You really have to take a lot of people shots to get better at it, and get more comfortable working with your subjects.

Evaluate your goal. Regularly. Be tough. Ask yourself if you are reaching or achieving your goal. Ask your family members and friends if they think you are improving.

2. Socialize
Use Google+, Facebook, Twitter, etc. to get your name and your work “out there.” These free marketing tools are essential for the working pro and aspiring pro.

See how other photographers are using these tools to their advantage. Daily.

These marketing tools are also a great way to share a favorite picture and to make new friends.

Look at these tools as building your fans and friends customer base.

Once you start, you should post new photos on a regular basis.

3. Network
You can use social media to network, of course. But actual face time (as in showing up in person as opposed to FaceTime on the iPhone/iPad) is also a great way to network.

Photoshop World is a great place to network. So is the PhotoPlus Expo in New York City and the California Photo Fest in Los Osos, CA.

Joining local Meetup groups is also a great way to network. Meetup photo groups are like camera clubs. They offer great opportunities to go out shooting with other photographers. Some host monthly meetings as well. If there is not a Meetup group in your town, start one – and start networking.

4. Plan Ahead
Here is what I tell freelance photographers, like myself: Being a freelancer is like being on a roller coaster. The highs are high and the lows are low. However, that’s much more exciting than being on a merry-go-round.

To be a successful freelancer, you need to plan ahead. Way ahead. I am planning my 2012 and 2013 workshops and seminars right now. One reason: I know many of my friendly competitors are doing the same thing. And, the groups that sponsor these events need time to promote dates to their members.

Make a plan and stick to it. Remember: dates in your “review view mirror” are closer than they appear.

Check your e-calendar daily. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Here is something else I tell freelancers: Never give up. Believe in yourself. Follow your heart and don’t listen to those, especially on social media, who want to put you down.

5. Think “Free”
Get this book, Free by Chris Anderson. In the book the author talks about the importance of giving away stuff for free… in the hope of making a connection with a potential customer and making money down the road.

It’s a good philosophy. Give a free lecture or photo seminar. After the lecture, promote your workshops, prints, etc. Also, post free videos on YouTube and give free webinars. Again, promote your paid work at the end of the video or webinar.

And while we are on the subject of books, read, The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck. It’s a great reminder of the value of saying “Thank You.”

6. Embrace Technology
You can make a few bucks by embracing technology. For example, pick your best work and create a PDF e-book. Sell it through E-junkie and promote it on your site and blog.

Also consider apps. As more and more iPads and iPhone are sold, more and more people are getting into app development.

Apps are more affordable than books. They are also available in every home with an Internet connection on the planet – which means you have a tremendous customer base.

After writing 36 books, I have now moved mainly to apps. I gotta tell ya, they sell way better than books these days.

7. Be Healthy
If you are not in good health and good shape, you can’t make the best possible picture and run the best possible business – and have the most fun possible. I know this because I recently hurt my knee, which slowed me down for a bit. A good New Year’s resolution would be to get in good shape and stay healthy throughout the year.

8. Create Your Own Reality
This may sound silly to some, but you can create your own reality, and you are responsible for your own reality to a great degree. If you want to be a photographer … you have to move toward that goal and invest your time and energy in photography. You might have to start with small jobs or volunteer to help other photographers, but you will be gaining great experience along the way. Remember the old expression, “you have to pay your dues.”

Also, read, Real Magic by Dr. Wayne Dyer and you’ll see what I mean.

Hey, it worked for me. For 10 years I worked in a NYC ad agency in a suit and tie. I dreamed of becoming a travel photographer. I read Real Magic and put the ideas in the book to work in my life. It might work for you, too.

Here’s another quote that may help you create your own reality: “It’s never too late to be who you could have been.” I know it sounds funny, but in many cases it’s true. Try to create your own reality.

9. Update Your Blog or Site
If you want to keep your customer’s attention, and if you want to attract the attention of new customers, you must keep your site current. Post new pictures as often as humanly possible.

I post new stuff on my blog almost daily. No matter how tired I am, I post. For example, I was teaching a photography workshop recently in Bosque del Apache, New Mexico, and I posted new work at 2 A.M. – when our wake-up call for the week was 4:30 A.M.

Posting every day has an added benefit: You need to make new pictures to post, and to find interesting stuff to write about. You’ll learn a lot, which brings us to tip #10.

10. Learn Something New
Learning is health, or at least that’s what the Buddhist say. Learn a new plug-in or software program. Learn a new photography Photoshop technique. For example, thanks to Matt Kloskowski, I recently learned how to make a better montage.

Learn HDR. Learn about travel or wedding photography. Learn, learn, learn. The photo field is filled with opportunities for learning; there are books, apps, DVDs, online training, workshops and seminars. Choose one and get started.

11. Practice
Read the book, Outliers by Malcolm Galdwell. In his book, the author talks about the importance of practice. Hey, I know you already know that, but this book really drives home the point. Strongly. Recent research, however, confirms the importance of natural talent and ability in the equation. Seems like combining practice with talent is the best formula for success.

12. Love What You Do
Here’s my final quote for this post: “If you love what you do, you never need to work a day in your life.”

I, like you, love photography! So the question is: “Why am I still working my butt off?”

Seriously, follow your passion. Even if you can’t do it full time, photography is still a creative outlet that simply can’t be beat.

Happy New Year fellow photographers! Hope you have a great year. Let me know how these tips work for you through my blog: RickSammon.info.

About The Author

55 Comments

  1. Nice post Rick. Thanks for the great advice.

  2. Rick Sammon is awe-inspiring. Thanks for the read!

  3. Great! Ken I missed you posting. It has upset the worlds continuum

  4. This was SO good. Thank you for sharing : ) LOVED it!

  5. Great Guess Post Rick with great advice and great books recommendation. Also, great timing because of the New Year Resolution just around the corner!

  6. Rick, awesome blog, you are the master of “sayings” and “rules”! I hope to make that workshop we talked about real soon! Without any exception, your DPE podcast the best of all photography casts.

    Ken

  7. Thank you! the tips and hints for future inspirational planning to an otherwise dull start to the year.

  8. I didnt have time to read this at all but I skimmed the images cause I recognized his name from other Kelby stuff..

    I did a double take on the first few images and by the end I couldnt wait to see what was next.

    Really enjoyed the images and cant wait to see the ones on your site.

    I think Ill read the article now. :-)

    P.S. You made a new fan. :-)

  9. nice post, really good advice to follow

    ps – here is another Vermeer remake – http://blog.alexgalmeanu.com/blog/2010/05/31/remake-vermeer/

  10. What a nice way to wake up! Thank you all for your comments and thanks to Brad and Scott for the opportunity.

    Happy New Year!
    Rick

  11. Yo Rick! Awesome post. It was very inspiring. Am getting my New Years resolution together to be a better photographer, promoter, and stay healthy!

    You made me a fan also!

  12. Fantastic post. One of the best I have read in a long time!

  13. Rick totally rocks!!

  14. Hi Rick,
    Great post. Like Rick Above, I want to stay healthy so I can be a better photog & teacher.
    Thanks for a great morning read with meaning,
    Mike

  15. Rick, I couldn’t have picked 12 better resolutions! I’m planning on working on all of those and hopefully a few more. Thanks for your insight and all the best in 2012!!

  16. Great post Rick. Thanks!
    Goal setting is amazingly important. Thanks for reinforcing that. Happy New Year!
    -Mark

  17. Great post, Rick. A lot of great advice for anyone, regardless of their hobby/passion. Have a Happy New Year!

    –John

  18. I really enjoyed your post. Setting goals is important in any profession. Sometes we forget that as photographers. Thanks for reminding us. Happy New Year!

  19. Rick awesome post. It does drive more confidence, and the philosophy that you imply in most of your points is phenomenal. Thanks for all your tips

  20. Thanks for the post, Rick!

    All the best for 2012 to you as well!

    – Stu

  21. After a lot of push from family and friends I started taking my photography more seriously and this post made me feel that I am on the right way! Thanks for all inspiration!

  22. Thank you, God bless you

  23. My favorite part: “Being a freelancer is like being on a roller coaster. The highs are high and the lows are low. However, that’s much more exciting than being on a merry-go-round.”

    Amazing post Rick!! Thank you!

    Happy New Year To All!


    Dwayne D.C. Tucker II
    Miami, Florida | Nassau, Bahamas

  24. Rick Sammon for the freaking win!!! Nice post, great motivation to actually set New Years resolutions this year, thank you.

  25. MBP on b’fast bar with fresh page already opened for ‘2012 Goals’, coffee, and hwa-laa! Rick’s post pops up…just in time to inspire. Now can’t wait for Jan 1. Thanks!

  26. Excellent post, it’s all common sense but sometimes it just needs to be said again to remind us all of the things we seem to lose sight of.

  27. Rick, Thanks for the tips for 2012. I especially liked the goal setting. Being more specific.

  28. Just right, Rick. What to do and how to do it. Great post.

  29. I understand how necessary it is to set goals and then get your name out there, but it is a bit scary, opening up oneself to criticism from sometimes unknown sources. At the same time, though, it is so important to keep an open eye, and also an artistic one, on all potential subjects. I find that sometimes the mood set is what is important. Sometimes I don’t want to shoot even though the subject is willing to be shot or the situation is right for it. The feeling might not be there. That is also something to combat against, I believe.

    This was a great read, thanks for sharing these recommendations. I am just beginning photography, can’t wait to (inexpensively, for now at least…) share my shots with those willing to look at them.

    Happy New Year to you all, and G-D bless.

  30. Lovely post. Great pointers.

    Happy New Year!!

  31. Rick, this’ll be perfect for discussing with our meetup group over lunch! We get together every Wednesday to discuss the guest blogger, and this week will be a good one for sure. Also, look for SMUG groups on Facebook and meetup. They are sponsored by Smugmug and have soe genuine benefits for members, and they’re free to join and they treat us to all kinds of great activities.

  32. Rick, I’ve been inspired by your work since your TV show and I learned photography from your photo books. Great post, keep em coming!

    Gary Detonnancourt

  33. Very nice post, full of good ideas and resources.
    Thanks for sharing all this great information with us all.

    Really, really love the image of the geese and the moon. Fantastic!

  34. If your goal is making money, why limit yourself by just making apps for the Iphone and Ipad, when the Android market share is so much greater?

  35. Great post Rick. I’ve been a fan for a long time. I learned digital photography from your books. Keep up the good work!

    Gary

  36. Great inspiration! Thank you for the tips and recommendations!

  37. “If you love what you do, you never need to work a day in your life.” – this is true.

  38. Rick – Thank you for the great post. Definitely eye opening, motivating and inspiring!

  39. Thank you again. It was a lot of fun – and rewarding – to read all the comments.

    Have a great New Year!

    Rick

  40. Rick thanks for this blog post, gonna start my year following your tips…really thank you for sharing, and love your books I had 2, thanks again, and Happy New Year, looking forward to became a good photographer !!!!

  41. Dear Rick,

    thank you for great post and for the tips for 2012. I wish you a Happy New Year!

  42. Guest blog post of the year!

  43. Happy New Year Rick, love the post. Thank You for all your good advice. See you in Jan in St. Augustine!

  44. Thanks for the post! Off to make my goals for the year. Great advice for the starting photographer! I have SOOOO much to learn it’s easy to become scattered with my own education… Off to put some goals in place!

  45. Very Nice Blog Article !

    Just in time for those of us still behind; giving a nice boost into 2012 !!

  46. These are really helpful – thanks! The ‘set specific goals’ one particularly struck me.

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