Do you journal/set goals/gauge your photography?

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by agentlossing, May 29, 2014.

  1. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    I'm mainly talking to hobbyists here, like myself, although I'm sure this applies to the personal side of things for pro photographers too. Do you ever find yourself sort of stagnating in the photography sense? Taking the same photos you have, getting wrapped up in GAS, etc. It seems obvious enough that we need a little impetus now and again, and I've read plenty of articles recommending new ways of "seeing." Taking trips, trying out new forms of photography, even new types of gear (that ain't dangerous at all...).

    One idea I haven't seen very much is setting yourself a sort of personal formalized "plan" - call it a manifesto, or a course, or a journal, just something you can put down somewhere to assess how you feel about the art of photography, how you're progressing, where your challenges are, you name it. Even chronicling trips or events. Maybe I'm just more prone to writing things down than many, but it seems like a way to add a little extra interest to what can be a rut-inducing (even is highly enjoyable most of the time!) hobby.
  2. GBarrington

    GBarrington Mu-43 Veteran

    Well, I have my Blog, where I am producing some tutorials on how to use ACDSee Pro. I've found I like writing about photography quite a bit. Blog:

    I don't journal as such (other than the blog), but I do like to complete photo projects. Things like, say, take tourist type photos at high noon, but still not produce dreck. I enjoy taking cliches and trying to find something new in them. THAT's a weird thing to do. You've got to adopt that cliche, and make it your own, yet still keep enough distance from it so you can know with certainty that what you are doing actually does go beyond the cliche.

    Then again, I drink and run around with wild women. So my judgement is kind of impaired.
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  3. demiro

    demiro Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 7, 2010
    GBar, forget that blog. Just combine your two hobbies and you'll be good to go. Just don't forget to share some photos of the wild women...:biggrin:
  4. John M Flores

    John M Flores Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 7, 2011
    Somerville, NJ
    Setting goals got me my first writing/photography gig. Back in 2004, I made it a New Year's Resolution to write something and get it published in a local magazine. Done. Then in 2005, I made another resolution - get a story with photos published in a national magazine. With that target set, I organized a trip and put the wheels in motion. I submitted the story early 2006 and got it published. Now nearly every year I think about the past year and what I'd like to improve/learn. One year it's video, another year it's rigged shooting, another year it's better/more writing.

    I come from the advertising world and learned there that deadlines are a necessary evil. For me, the only way to continue to grow is to set goals and deadlines. I've been a bit lax the last year or so, and have seen a corresponding drop in motivation. But I think I'm finally getting back to it.
  5. alex66

    alex66 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 23, 2010
    Yes I have set my self up for brutal criticism by doing an MA in photography.
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  6. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Legend

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Real Name:
    Ray, not Oz
    I did my best photography work before I started doing news and sports photography for a newspaper. The news work consumed all of my free time, narrowed my outlook in a way and almost sapped my interest in photography when I did have spare time. Now that I'm free of that, I'm slowly regaining that broader interest that I once had in photography and actively keep an eye out for new things (though different things consume my time). I can't say that the news work was all bad, it did educate me to look at things differently, especially when it came to people (absolute strangers), situations and events, and taught me to act confidently and positively in those situations.

    In the news world I always had to plan my jobs, but because I was invariably time and location constrained (more often than not), I usually had to throw out all my pre-conceived plans about a shoot, think on my feet and improvise because of poor location and lack of time, dictated by the subject. Imagine going to house to do a shoot on someone that was having a story done on them and instead of half an hour, you were given five minutes because the subject had to go somewhere (we were always told when to arrive at a subject's house and given a rough idea of time available). Five minutes doesn't give you much time, especially when you have to find a 'reasonable' location to make the portraits look good and representative of what the story was about.

    This happened time and time again, and you just had to deal with it. Sometimes the results were great, other times crap, but there was nothing that you could do about it. What I'm getting at is that what working for a newspaper taught me was that planning is all well and good, but like in war, the best laid plans fall apart when you meet the enemy. I don't think 'plans', in themselves, will assist in getting you out of the doldrums or improving your photography; it's like people making New Year resolutions, they are never intended to be kept. Everyone has a photography 'interest' that gives them the greatest pleasure and motivation, be it landscape, street, kids etc photography. You might call it a comfort zone, but I think it reflects the personality, emotions and specific part of the brain of the individual and it's where they do well, or not. That should be the focus in the first place, just find the time and locations and situations to explore those interests and become good at that style of photography.

    I don't by any means suggest that you don't try and come out of your comfort zone, as it can have its own rewards; but don't make it a mission, as failure can affect your enthusiasm for everything else. Get really good and satisfied with what you like and then explore other areas to see if you like those as well. It's a bit like food; some have eaten nothing but meat and three veg just about their entire lives and don't like anything else. However, there are many different ways to cook meat and three veg, and that can lead to a slow transition to more adventurous foods. I think photography is much the same.
  7. janneman

    janneman Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 6, 2012
    Real Name:
    Jan (John) Kusters
    Setting goals is an excellent way to push yourself. Just be careful not to use the goal as an escape. Setting just one goal when you are in a rut gives a chance to drop everything else (and do nothing because 'it is not what I have set as my goal'). I use quite a few plans to keep going, often criss cross mixed up.

    One goal can be to come up with at least 5 pictures worth showing others each month (thank you M43 User Group with your 'show your top five...' threads). Those often get printed 12x16 inch and spend some time on the wall of my living room as well. I use several other threads here as well as something to keep in the back of my mind whenever I go out with my camera (and just don't leave home without it folks!).

    Setting a goal in what to do with pictures is also very useful. A slide show on dvd, a photo book, calendar, greeting cards... Once there is something the pictures are used for, it almost always pushes me to optimise the pictures for that purpose in a way I would not have done without that goal.

    In line with above; I try to take pictures and make my own calender each year, with pictures that fit to each month. It is not constant on my mind, but it forces me to look at what I have done each month, and perhaps scramble to still get one that is better for this month. At the end of the year I can have it printed (if it is good enough), and I usually start in December with the next round.

    Another -not always but sometimes- goal is to go back to old pictures I took years ago, and run them through Photoshop again to check what I would make of them now. One thing is that I am always amazed how much I am still learning in PP, another thing is how my idea of what makes a photo interesting keeps changing and moving. And of course those old pics can rekindle ideas I had forgotten all about.
  8. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    Since I'm a hobbyist and don't photograph for work, I think less about goals and more along the lines of what I want to say in my photography (aside from just recording my life). I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and we have the Santa Fe Photography Workshops here which bring in accomplished photographers from all over the world to teach for a week or two. Every monday during the workshop season, the instructors will present their work. Its open to the public, so I get to see a wide variety of photographers discuss their approach to photography and present their images. The ones who inspire me are the ones who have a vision, idea or cause they are trying to communicate. I haven't answered the question of what I want to say in any way that satisfies me, but I hope to someday transcend the purely technical "craft" aspects of photography and actually communicate something.

    If you're in the neighborhood, here is the instructor presentation schedule for this summer:
  9. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jun 26, 2013
    Real Name:
    Andrew Lossing
    Great thoughts! It's definitely interesting to uncover what's going on in the "meta" aspect. I mostly find goal-setting to be empowering, especially if they're written down, but it's kind of like going camping: some of the most fun is writing up your list for packing (okay, maybe I'm just strange). The goal-setting is almost as interesting as the work on fulfilling them. The best part is when you go back to check off that goal.

    I'm finding it kind of fun to write about my photography from the standpoint of an impartial observer. It helps me to pull back, and evaluate an area of my life that I haven't really evaluated before. Still not sure if it's worth my time to do, but I'm having fun. But then, I'm more writer than photographer anyway when you really get down to it.