It’s that time of year when you should be thinking about what you managed in the past year, and what you want to accomplish in the current one. If you haven’t read my article “What’s Your Goal,” you should probably start there. There are other articles in that Improving the Photographer section you might want to look at, too.
For me, I’m trying something a little different for 2017. I’ve tried to come up with a different photographic situation for every month of the year. For example, in January I’m going to take my second whack at figuring out how to shoot ice hockey, and in September I’m going to head to my old stomping grounds in the Sierra and shoot a Spartan Challenge.
I’ve also got Botswana in July and Galapagos in December, which leaves me with just eight other months to find my own personal photographic challenges for ;~). As I noted, I want each month this year to be a little different in what I’m doing, so you’ll probably see everything from landscape to sports, macro to wildlife, events to portraits from me.
That said, I’m also thinking longer term. I’m considering what I want to do in the next four or five year period, which is probably my last as a truly active photographer given my age. This list is of things that would keep me challenged and actively shooting with high interest.
Here’s my list so far:
- A Regular Sports Gig — it would be nice to get back into a regular schedule with sports, rather than subbing in from time to time. I’m taking sports photos fairly regularly now, but I’m not learning one set of players and am not yet into trying to tell any particular story; my shots are all pretty much catch as catch can, with different sports and different teams every time. We’ve got both active minor league teams and college teams in the area, so I’ll be looking at my options here in Lehigh Valley to start with. But I’m certainly not averse to travel, either, as you can probably tell, and I’m within commute distance of both New York City and Philadelphia. It’s possible I could hook up with one of my alma maters, too.
- Olympics — This is a bit pie in the sky, but the Olympics are the ultimate challenge for a photographer. First, there are so many of us covering these events every four years there’s the challenge and competition of producing something that no one else managed under the circumstances. Second, it’s a bit like a photographer migration: where else are you going to find as many of us gear-obsessed image nerds in one place to associate, gossip, and commiserate with? The problem with the Olympics, of course, is that you almost always end up with a singular assignment—you can’t really be following much in the way of multiple sports, athletes, or venues—and photography is a ways down the list of priorities to the organizing committees. It’s quite possible you’ll get stuck in a photography pen with far too many other folk in not a particular great location. Still, if you get away from the main sports and the prime-time TV sports, it seems to me it could be very interesting and fun to attempt. Winter or Summer? Ugh. I grew up partly in a ski resort, so I guess I could go either way. But then there’s the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. It might be interesting to cover the Olympics from a different standpoint. For instance, how Nikon is involved with and supporting the games. In other words, a behind the scenes story.
- Going Animal — Spend a full season in one area of Africa as the National Geographic Pros get to. Side note: while the TV cable channels are hot on cats and other predators, I’d think I'd love to do something less exotic, such as follow an elephant family for a season and tell their story instead. Season in the African sense is generally end of the wet period to start of the next wet period, and more than a half year in length. If this gig happens, I might not be blogging for a while.
- Other Travel — I travel a lot as it is, but I’d like to take on a couple of real travel assignments for a magazine or client, but to places that are emerging as the next place to go rather than places that have already been over-covered to death.
- Events — I almost wrote “shoot a wedding.” However, I’m smarter than that ;~). I actually wouldn’t mind the challenge of trying to compose wedding photographs my way to see what that way might actually turn out to be. Do I see a wedding enough differently that I could produce a style that people might ooh and aah over? But you can’t go in cold on that one. I’d have to either (a) stage a fake wedding; or (b) be a third, unimpaired shooter at a wedding that’s got two pros already covering it well. I don’t like (a), because it also means that I have to direct the actual spirit and moments that mimic a real wedding; in other words, direct actors while also doing the physical shooting, something that even Hollywood avoids. I’m not sure (b) is possible to do without interfering in some way with the main shooters. We’ll see. But a big non-sport event is definitely something I want to tackle soon.
- DP Something — Video isn’t exactly “photography,” but I was trained as a filmmaker. I’d love to find one last big video project to be the director of photography (or perhaps director) on. Not editor, not producer, not talent, not anything but the person (or persons paired with a director) that determines how the video actually looks on screen, coupled with the challenge of pulling that off.
Yes, these bulleted things are all sort of day dreams right now (as opposed to my 2017 plans, which have firmed up pretty well). Still, if you can’t imagine the road ahead you can’t steer a course.
Steer your course. Set some goals. See if you can make them happen.