With 2021 in the rear-view, we asked a handful of contributors to reveal their goals for the year ahead. Inspiration awaits.
New Year’s resolutions may seem like a cliché, but if used as an opportunity to reflect on the past year and set goals, they can be quite useful—especially for creatives running their own businesses.
Resolutions encourage us to confront how we did over the past year in order to know what else we want to do and which direction we want to take going forward.
What are the goals for the year ahead? How can you set them with the understanding that priorities will undoubtedly shift and you’ll need to adapt quickly?
1. Elena Veselova
Never stop creating for yourself. Image via Elena Veselova.
Year 2020 and 2021 were the highest income years for me, so far. At the same time, with all the troubles with childcare (I have three kids—my youngest was eighteen months old when the pandemic started), I worked myself into the worst burnout [of my career] and I’m still recovering from that.
My biggest takeaway from all this: You should never stop creating just for yourself, experimenting and shooting something crazy just for fun.
Experiment with new ideas. Images via Elena Veselova.
For 2022, I want to get more into video and pursue a couple personal projects. The main idea is to slow down a little with client work to have more time for experiments. It’s very important to love what you do and to have fun.
For creative businesses, it’s hard to recover if you lose your “spark.” It’s also hard to draw a line between work and life. When you work for yourself and from home, you end up working all the time.
You know that saying that “freelancers quit their day job to avoid working 9-5 and end up working 24/7?” That’s me. So, I want to slow down.
I’m thinking about hiring out retouching, accounting, and even photography for some of the easier client photoshoots. I need to be intentional about taking breaks and slowing down.
As a freelancer, make sure to draw a line between work and life. Image via Elena Veselova.
2. Antonio Diaz
Always look to increase the quality of your content. Image via antoniodiaz.
Every single year that goes by, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get out of my comfort zone in some way.
This upcoming year, the most important goal I have is to increase the quality of the content we create. I want to work harder to find better-looking places, creating more authentic photos, and collaborating with more diverse models.
I’m also trying to branch out and experiment with other types of photos and videos to have more variety in my portfolio.
I’m very confident about shooting and directing people, but this year I’ll be making an extra effort to try and create highly-produced photos with no people in them, which is different from what I normally do.
Try getting out of your comfort zone. You never know what magic will occur. Images via antoniodiaz.
Basically, I want to get closer in quality and production to the other creators I admire and look up to. I’m constantly getting inspired by others and every year I try to reach up one step higher in how I create my images.
3. Paul Prescott
Continue expanding your horizons when it comes to your personal goals. Image via Amazing Aerial Agency.
Four years ago, I started to build a new collection focused on aerial photography, along with a few other photographers. It organically grew from five to twenty-eight photographers.
During the pandemic, I decided to launch a campaign inviting more photographers to be part of [this] Amazing Aerial Agency, and hundreds of people signed up.
Today, the agency is composed of 160 photographers from sixty-one countries.
Never stop growing your business. Image via Amazing Aerial Agency.
Now, aside from continuously growing the photo agency, I’m also working on an online education platform called Amazing Aerial Academy, and we’ll be launching in a couple of months.
The goal is to grow our community of aerial photographers around the world, where our photographers will be able to do their own courses in their own languages. There will be a base course on aerial photography, but there will also be online webinars and workshops.
The photography community is vast—support it by becoming a part of it. Images via Amazing Aerial Agency.
Hopefully, eventually, in the next year when things really get better regarding the pandemic, we can do physical workshops. For this academy, I consider it our main goal to support photographers in growing their style and expanding their creativity and becoming stronger, better photographers.
4. Mattias Drotte of Maskot Photos
Incorporate diversity into you cast, as well as your imagery. Image via Maskot.
I think we are going to continue and evolve even more into the honesty and the rawness of our photography while continuously being diverse in our casting.
I am almost ashamed to say it, but our business went up when the pandemic struck. It’s like we pulled the winning ticket in the pandemic lottery. And, the perspective when it comes to our photography has shifted in the sense that we shoot even more real and diverse [images].
It is like the virus has pushed us to portray our surroundings in a more honest and believable way. Maybe it comes from the realization that we can not take our privileged lives for granted.
Portray different lifestyles and backgrounds. Images via Maskot.
We plan to expand our team of photographers that come from other social, ethnic, and socio-economic groups than our own, to be able to portray different types of lifestyles in an honest and involved way. My belief is that this is the only solution to get the right material that will not look staged or fake.
Strive for authentic representations of people and situations. Image via Maskot.
Also, we are never completely satisfied with our productions. We always try to improve our ways of setting up a shoot, how to make briefs and storyboards, how to communicate with producers and art directors, and how to get our shooters into the right mental state for the shoot at hand.
So, lots of resolutions and exciting plans for next year.
5. Jen Gauld
Get your work in front of people—apply for an exhibition. Image via Jennifer Gauld.
This year I had wanted to start doing more portraiture and documentary lifestyle photography. I didn’t get to do much of that, so for next year, I’d like to work on more people-focused photos.
I’d also like to apply for more exhibitions and residencies. I would like to get my personal work in front of more people. I really haven’t been making much effort at all in showing people my more personal artistic works, and I would very much like to change that.
I heard a story of a writer who pursued 100 rejections. As a photographer, I would like to do the same.
Go bold—put your work out into the world. Image via Jennifer Gauld.
There’s also this goal of getting better as a photographer. I would like to be able to see a photo and break down exactly how someone got there. I’d like to know what to do in what lighting situations to get the result I want.
I know these things now, kind of, but I think there is always room for progress and getting better.
Remember, you’re good at what you do. Yet, there’s always room for improvement. Image via Jennifer Gauld.
Also, I’d love to pick up my old film camera and occasionally go back to being more deliberate about taking and making photos. I have a friend who only shoots with film and the way he shoots is so different from how I do it.
He takes his time, finds the perfect angle, looks at the situation, and really knows exactly what he wants before he takes a photo. I am the type who will take 100 photos to get the one I want.
I think, maybe, if I practice being limited by the medium, it can help me be a better photographer when I go back to my regular digital camera. But, also, it would be fun!
This year, my business has grown more than any year yet. The pandemic has made me only more grateful to be doing the work that I do. And, I’ve started to take myself more seriously.
Take yourself seriously, but have fun with the process. Image via Jennifer Gauld.
6. Gavin Booth of HEX Agency
It’s just as important to treat your crew with respect as it is your clients. Image via HEX.
We’ve always had the idea of “human first” as an agency. We do people. Employees, the work/life thing, great departures, and all that.
Face your challenges head-on. Images via HEX.
For next year, we plan to continuously find problems and challenges we can fix, and find courageous clients who want to do the good work.
You’d like to think clients find you for a reason—because they see something. They understand the conviction and the craft. Ultimately, it comes down to that.
Remember, clients find you for a reason. Images via HEX.
7. Alex Eggermont
Experiment with new mediums. Image via Alex Eggermont / Image Source.
This year I really got into video and I think I want to keep pursuing that next year. Motion allows me to work with audio as well, and music is a big part of my life.
I find myself having way more creative ideas in video than in photography. I think I’m better at photography, but I’m more interested in learning rather than being the best at something.
With every gear update, new possibilities are born. Images via Alex Eggermont / Image Source.
I’ve been doing video for a few years, but really just for fun at an amateur level. The photo cameras I’m using are getting better and better for video, so they’re a great starting point.
I could do a video of anything, really, there’s lots of space for creativity. It could literally just be a twenty-second video of someone walking in the woods just to practice the techniques, transitions, etc.
I think I’ll keep doing that every time I feel inspired, until it naturally leads to some properly interesting content. That’s what I did for my photography and it worked pretty well.
Practice new techniques—you never know what might stick. Image via Alex Eggermont / Image Source.
8. Jelani Splawn
Make it your goal to become a member of the artistic community. Image via Jelani Splawn/Shutterstock.
After last year, I realized I could do a lot more than what I’m doing currently. My portfolio has increased, my camera skills are efficient, and many in my local city [Harrisburg, PA] know me as “the camera guy.”
For next year, I’d like to really go and sell my work and become an established, artistic sphere of influence in my community. I plan to have a photography studio and establish an official photography business, overall.
After 2020, I’ve had a desire to invest more in the human side of photography, so I’ve spent most of my time doing that.
I’ve also been investing in everything photography—from working to sell my own prints to making my own book. So, all in all, it’s all about dedication for me.
9. Breanna Peterson
Make your most profound ideas a reality. Image via Breanna Peterson.
My kids are getting older and my camera’s getting dustier. It’s a bittersweet realization, recognizing they want fewer photos of themselves and learning how to respect that.
This past summer, I did continue my 100 days of summer project, documenting our entire summer break.
And, as 2022 looms on the horizon, I want to challenge myself with more photo opportunities without my children and focus on one personal project from the many ideas swirling in my head.
Challenge yourself beyond your normal boundaries. Images via Breanna Peterson.
For the past fourteen years, my children have been my primary focus with photography. Now, I want to hold myself more accountable with my photo project ideas. Some of that includes the many stories in our small town, Kodiak, Alaska.
One specific project I’ve been formulating for years is the unique lifestyle of our fishing families, U.S. Coast Guard families, and cannery families. Each one is vastly different, but also similar.
Bring in a hometown vibe, from time to time. Images via Breanna Peterson.
I also plan to offer myself grace and let my photographic journey continue on the roller coaster ride it’s been. Four years ago, I went to work full-time outside our home. I told myself I would continue my photography business, but it’s honestly been a challenge. It’s also been a lesson in grace.
Grace meaning it’s okay to edit photos months later. It’s also okay to never post on social media, to enjoy other artists’ work and still feel adequate about your own. It’s also okay to say no to clients. I guess grace, more than anything, is finding your balance.
In the end, it’s important to just find your balance. Image via Breanna Peterson.
Cover image via Maskot.
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