The beginning of the year is a promising time to start afresh. A clean slate. A hopeful perspective on 365 opportunities to make ourselves better.
If each month had a word, January's would be resolutions.
Per Google, the first two definitions of "resolution" are:
( 1 ) "A firm decision to do or not to do something."
( 2 ) "The action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter."
Though at first look, it might seem that only the first definition applies to our own personal resolutions, upon further contemplation, we'll realize that the second is as relevant with regard to our intentions.
Both go hand in hand in the transformation we seek. We promise (1) to do particular tasks in order to (2) fix a certain problem or improve an area of shortcoming.
I made a long list of resolutions for myself and I find that it's easier to manage and live up to when I divide it into sections.
One area of this list, of course, is my photography.
It's quite common, in any endeavor, to reach a certain plataeu and that's what I'm trying to steer clear of, at the very least.
1. Learn something new about my camera each week.
I never went to school nor had any formal education with regard to photography. I learned as I went. I had a visual trial and error journey, meaning, if it looked good in my eyes, then it's good. If didn't, it's not. Simple. I didn't bother with technicalities and rules and I think, overall, I was better off without it.
BUT, I do want to learn a bit more about my camera and editing, if only to find ways to become more efficient in creating beautiful photos. There must be a better, if not quicker, way to come up with gorgeous crisp images.
So each week, I try to learn something new with my primary bread and butter, my camera.
2. Execute new angles/shots/poses.
This applies mainly, though not solely, for my San Francisco City Hall weddings. I do many of them and so often, I noticed I had started to follow a certain routine when I'm there. Go here, pose this way. Stand over there, look that way. I looked at photos from different weddings and each set looked very similar. It's good to have and be known for your own style but I don't want to be like a photo service factory chugging out the same thing.
So now, with each photo shoot, though I still do some of my classic shots, I make it a point to incorporate new ones. I write it down or mentally plan shots I want to execute right before a gig. It's great for me, keeping the creative juices flowing and wonderful for the client since they're images wouldn't be an exact match as another couple's.
3. Blog more with words and not just photos.
It all boils down to laziness, really, when I blog about a certain event and just post photos. Iknow I can say a few words about the couple, about the location, about how it went. I used to. And there's no coincidence I had my most gigs back in 2011 (66 total the whole year) when I did just that. No need for any SEO service. Just write. Good, intentional writing.
So recently, I started getting back to the habit of writing with images thrown in just to supplement the story.
4. Create more guides.
My most popular blog post by far is The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco City Hall Weddings. Why? Because it's jampacked with all the information you might need if you're considering getting married there. It answers questions you might never find elsewhere. In short, it helpspeople needing that information.
So, I've a fresh list of ideas for new guides I'm coming up with year.
5. Refresh packages.
My packages are really simple. Too simple, I'm starting to think. Basically, I charge $400 for the first hour and $300 for each succeeding hour. Despite how many hours you book me for, you receive the same things (online galleries, originals, edited images, photobook and so on). Yes, I do book upgrades for longer events but I feel the need to revisit and make each package more special as the duration runs longer.
So expect an announcement sometime during the year or the beginning of the next for brand spankin' new packages.
6. Review rates.
Every other year, I review and raise my rates. I improve my skills over time (you can see for yourself if you viewed my photos through the years) and at the same time widen my portfolio. This naturally increases the value of what I offer. Ideally, I review and raise my prices accordingly each year. I know I deserve it, I just need more confidence in the execution part of it. I try not to but whenever I stumble upon other photographers' websites and see their work and the amount they require, it leaves me feeling that something is not quite right.
I do not mean to sound biased but you can try it out for yourself and compare my work, my fees and what I include in my packages with other photographers in the area. Matter of fact, widen your scope and do not limit yourself to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Read my reviews on Yelp and notice a common denominator, I am pretty much the "best value" wedding photographer. I'm as good as, if not better, than most out there and at the same time one of the most affordable. These brides have done their research and you can take their word for it when they make the comparison.
7. Know my clients more.
I'm pretty good at getting to know my clients during the initial part of the process and close to the day of. I'm even up to date with what's going on with most of them even years after their wedding, thanks to Facebook.
But I want to up the ante by really nurturing the relationship throughout the whole process. Not at stalkerish level but communicating with them more frequently than I do right now.
8. Improve on editing.
This is pretty self explanatory. I want to learn how to achieve crisper looking images. I'm not going to photography school or anything. Just devour everything I can online and pratice, like I've always done.
9. Practice getting it right with the camera with less reliance on post processing.
In relation to #8, getting it right with the camera, not requiring any post processing, even a basic clean up with Photoshop would be hellacool. You've no idea how much time this alone will save me.
I take pride in my quick turn around time of 1 week but if I get it good with the camera with less processing or none at all, I can see myself completing a set in just a few days. That'd be super awesome.
10. Amp up marketing.
What I need is to be found. By the right people. People who need (want) what I offer. And I can do a hell of a lot of things, things that I've already been doing on daily basis, but what would really step up my game is #3 -- blogging. Organic reaches with words. Words that tell a story. Words that help. Words that inspire.
What are your resolutions for this year? I'd really love to hear them.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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