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At the beginning of each New Year, we feel compelled to set goals for ourselves, whether they are personal goals, financial goals, career goals or photography goals. The tendency is to describe our goals in big terms, both how much we want to accomplish and during how much time we want to accomplish them.
“I want to lose 50 pounds during the next 12 months.”
“I want to advance from just another member of the sales staff to the sales manager by the beginning of 2014.”
“I want to increase the revenues from my photography business by 25% before the end of 2013.”
These, and other goals, are absolutely worthwhile; however, the challenge is not realizing them, but how do you go from where you are today to where you want to be. The mistake that so many people make is to focus on taking a giant step from today to tomorrow, which results in so many New Year’s resolutions going unfulfilled and leaving so many people frustrated and disappointed in themselves. Such an unworkable strategy causes many people to stop trying, convincing themselves they don’t have the strong character and discipline to be successful.
Fortunately, the solution is quite easy; and because it is easy, more people, including you, can realize the success you desire so much.
The most tried-and-true method for accomplishing any big goal is to divide it into baby steps, or small, incremental goals.
Whether you’re a beginner photographer who wants to improve your skills beyond just taking casual images, a hobbyist who wants to maximize the considerable investment you’ve made in your first DSLR camera or the aspiring or stuck-in-neutral professional photographer who wants to make much more money, the fastest way to accomplish those goals is to advance in small steps.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but concentrating all your efforts on setting and accomplishing small goals will prove to yourself that you can succeed, even if the steps are small. With your eyes and mind focused on the small prizes instead of the final prize that seems much too big to accomplish at the beginning, you’ll suddenly find yourself on the doorstep of the big prize and feel as if you didn’t do much at all to arrive there.
Arguably, the biggest challenge facing beginner photographers is the three- part exposure formula: aperture, shutter speed and ISO, and how they are used together to expose an image correctly. Sure, as a beginner, you can rely on auto mode for the rest of your life and expect to take reasonably exposed photos, but you’ll become nothing more than a slave to technology.
If you truly want to become a better photographer, then you must take control of exposure. You will accomplish that big goal when you separate it into small steps, learning each of the three exposure values separately, where you select them on the lens or camera and studying how each affect a photograph. Once you’ve accomplished those three goals, then you advance to learning how they affect each other in pairs: aperture and shutter speed, aperture and ISO and shutter speed and ISO. Only then are you ready to understand how the three work together, and succeed at using them.
The giant chasm that intermediate photographers are always trying to leap is how to transform their rather mundane compositions into the kind of highly unique and creative images that they see professionals are able to capture. The goal of becoming a master of photography composition also requires accomplishing many small goals: shapes, lines, lighting, color, contrast, etc. Only by concentrating on each separately until they are thoroughly understood will it ever be possible to combine them in the manner of a professional.
The primary challenge for professional photographers is often not learning more photography techniques, but improving business practices. Being able to produce photos that customer want to buy is a given. What truly makes a professional photographer successful is both the willingness to learn sales and marketing techniques, general business and financial management and people skills, and then implementing them in a manner that constantly attracts new clients, and exceeding their expectations of customer service.
Regardless of your level of photography experience, you’ll make 2013 your most successful year yet when you start the year by setting small goals that lead to the big goal you want to accomplish, and then concentrating on successfully achieving each of those small goals.
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