I’ve said before that I believe a lot of photographers just sort of wing it, and try to get a shot at the end of the day. If you want to be a great photographer, you need to really develop a sense for what you like about an image, and not just how you like it. There’s nothing wrong with the latter, but you need to have a set of goals for what you’d like to achieve, and then develop the sense of how you want to work towards them.
As I was looking through my images on Lightroom, I noticed that many of them didn’t really have any real sense of what I was trying to accomplish. There were very few that were set up to create any of the shots I wanted. What I did was go back through them, and create a series of images that I liked the look of, and what I’d like to have done.
Of course, you could just do this without having any goals, but I think it’s a great way to find out what you like in an image, and what you like the look of. My biggest question is how do you set goals for yourself in photography? Here are a few of my thoughts on how you can set yourself some goals.
If you can see the results of the goals you’ve set, you know you’ve done a good job. Whether you’re shooting commercial work, family or wedding photography, you need to have goals for your business. If you’re not clear on what you want to achieve, you’ll be shooting just to get your shots in, and won’t be working towards anything.
Why Do You Want to Set Goals?
There’s an argument to be made that just shooting anything is fine, and you can shoot anything at all, but you have to define what you’re trying to achieve, or you’ll never make any progress. I’m not necessarily saying you should say “I want to be a better photographer”, but you need to have a clear idea of what you’re trying to do, and know that you’ll have to do something to achieve it.
This is important because it ensures that you’re not getting stuck in a creative rut, and you have a sense of how you want to progress. That means you won’t become overwhelmed with a million different things to try, and just end up taking dozens of different photographs every week that don’t make you feel as if you’ve improved. You’ll also be able to set achievable goals that you know you can reach.
Well, first of all, you need to know what you want out of your photography. If you’re starting from scratch, this will be tough to do, but if you’ve been shooting for a few years, it’s going to be pretty easy to see what you like in an image. Once you’ve determined what you like, you need to decide how you want to go about achieving it.
Here’s an example:
What do you want to achieve with your images?
My goal is to capture people in a unique and interesting way. This usually means capturing them in their element, and not just by a window, or in a location where they’re not in their element. I want to capture them against a backdrop, so they’re not just the focus of the photo.
This can be achieved through many different means. You can create a set-up that has a unique background, or you can take advantage of a location that has something interesting to offer. When you use that location to your advantage, you can get a better sense of how to achieve what you want to achieve.
I think it’s important to know what you want to achieve, and then create your set-up to try and achieve it. You can also look at what other photographers are doing, to see how you want to improve. That’s the real benefit of shooting for goals. If you want to be a photographer that can create a unique backdrop, and do something with people in a unique way, then look at what other photographers are doing, and think about how you want to improve on it.
The great thing about this is that you can shoot every single day, or just once a week. It’s a great way to progress your skills. If you’re working towards creating a unique backdrop, you’ll eventually reach a point where you know you can do it. You may have to try and work out what you can do to improve your skills. If you can achieve the set-up you’re shooting for, then you can make it a regular thing.
A set-up is never going to work out for you if you can’t do it. That’s the same as setting up a lighting system, and never being able to take an image with it. The goal is to be able to achieve what you want, and work out how to get there.
Some Actionable Goals for You to Try
Get a camera body and lenses.
If you want to improve your photography skills then it’s vital that you invest in the right equipment. At the top end of the market, you will find cameras such as the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (affordable) and the Nikon D850 (pricey). The Nikon is excellent but the Canon has more features, in particular a wider range of lenses and a greater sensor resolution (more pixels). There are plenty of other options to consider too. If you are happy to buy secondhand, then there is no better time than now to buy a used camera. There are many websites, like eBay, where you can look for good deals. The next step would be to invest in lenses. The most important thing here is the size of the aperture. This is the opening in the lens through which light comes into the camera. The bigger the aperture, the brighter the photo. Aperture sizes vary and can go from f/2.8 to f/11. You can check the aperture on your camera manual. I’d suggest starting with the widest aperture setting on the camera you are looking to buy and then gradually moving down to the smallest aperture setting available.
Improve your post-processing skills.
The world of photography is full of post-processing tricks. It’s easy to get excited and try out new effects on your photos, and you may enjoy experimenting and seeing how things turn out. However, if you don’t have the right skills you may produce disappointing results. If you decide to invest in some software, then I’d suggest checking out Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Both are widely used by professional photographers, which gives them a high reputation and the quality of the software is impressive.
Take more action shots.
This means trying to capture the moment. Often, people take photos just to look at the photo afterwards. They are happy with how the image came out but don’t really enjoy taking the shot. When you are taking photographs, it’s important to get to the right place, at the right time, with the right weather conditions. That means taking lots of photos in different places. It’s a good idea to keep a small notebook in your camera bag and note down the location of each shot. By doing this, you can later find out what you enjoyed about the location and why you liked it. If you don’t get on to the spot to take the photo, then you will never know what you could have achieved.
Be more creative with your portraits.
There are many different types of portrait shots. You can use the natural environment around you or a studio. It’s a good idea to get to know the place where you are going to take the portrait, and if possible to plan ahead. This will make things easier. You can also ask a model to stand in a certain way, use props and change the lighting. For example, you can use a flash, which will often add a nice light to the photo. It’s also a good idea to learn about the features of your camera. For example, your camera might have a feature called ‘Face Priority’. If you press this button, it will help you get better results when you take portraits.
Photograph more landscapes.
Landscapes are very popular. You might even see a few on Pinterest, Facebook or Instagram. However, it’s important to take some landscape shots too. To get a good shot, it helps if you know what you are looking for. You need to try and get a little further away from the subject, so the photo is larger. You can also add a background of interesting objects.
Take better food photos.
This is an area of photography which I find particularly enjoyable. I love taking food photos and they can make a beautiful meal a memorable one. I’m also quite good at taking food photos. I’d like to think I’m not the only one. Food is delicious and people are always asking me to take their picture. The key is to get a little further away from the subject and to make sure the lighting is right. It’s a good idea to research the type of food you are planning to photograph.
Improve your video skills.
You might think you can’t do much with a video. The truth is that you can do a lot. A good camera will enable you to record your family’s holiday or your work day. It can make a boring topic interesting and help bring the viewer along. There are many different types of video: action, sports, news, interviews and so on. It’s a good idea to watch a few tutorials to see which type of video you enjoy.
Develop your skills.
It is never too early to start learning. And there are many ways you can do this.
One of the best ways to learn is to talk to other people, especially other photographers. You can meet with other photographers in your local area, find a photographer or two you admire and talk to them. Ask them how they got into photography.
Learn about the different techniques and styles of photography. Talk to photographers who are successful, and try to identify what it is they do differently.
Doing this will give you a sense of what is possible, how it works and what kind of images you can create.
You can also improve your photography skills with practice, reading, online courses, and taking classes.
To improve your skills, you need to practice shooting in different environments, using the camera’s settings, and focusing on various subjects. As you take photographs, study the photographs you take, looking for things you can do differently next time. Try to work out what you do that makes your photos look different.
The Internet is full of information about how to improve your photography. You can find free online courses about photography and digital photography, which are run by top photographers.
Taking online courses will help you to learn about the equipment and camera features that are most important in your photography. You can learn about photography online from beginner to advanced topics. You can even find online photography courses that are specific to your camera model.
You can also take a photography class with a professional photographer. Classes typically teach the basics of composition and technical aspects of photography. Your teacher will give you practical tips and help you to improve your photography skills.
I hope that these actionable photography goals will help you to improve your skills.