With the December holidays now over, it’s time for our annual attempt at making resolutions for the coming year. If you work at a gym, this is the busiest time of year as many people (myself included) stare into the mirror and wonder when their sense of moderation disappeared. While the majority of resolutions are about losing weight, many choose to stop smoking, save money, read more, and become better organized.
Photographers aren’t exempt from making New Year’s resolutions. In fact, while the most popular resolutions are often abandoned by February due to their ambitious scope, photography resolutions have a higher likelihood of success because of their focus and specificity. Whether it’s about becoming more decisive with your work, or finally getting that piece of kit you’ve drooled over throughout 2019, defining and achieving our resolutions can make us better photographers.
Toward that end, here are some of the New Year’s (photography) resolutions from the Casual Photophile staff. And please share yours with us in the comments below.
Jeb’s Resolution – Focus on the Portfolio, Be More Outgoing
For the past few years, I’ve felt a growing distance between myself and my photography. I attribute that to the endless litany of cameras and films I’ve used in search of my forever camera. Shooting a new camera is always exciting and interesting, but it also brings with it new learning curves that take my attention away from what matters: the photos I’m making.
At the start of a new decade, I feel a growing need to settle down on the equipment side and bulk up on the portfolio side. The confidence and familiarity that comes from using the same machines day after day will let me focus more on composition and less on settings and dials. Toward that end I’m resolving to sticking with two cameras – my Pentacon Six for medium format and Nikon F4 for 35mm. I’ll also try to only use Kodak’s Tri-X and Portra 400 for all my work. Admittedly not the most daring or unique choice of films, but I’m hoping that using them exclusively will satiate my ever-growing appetite for consistency within my work.
On a different note, I’m also resolving to be more outgoing and decisive as a photographer. Too many times I missed interesting images because of my reluctance to talk to strangers or turn the car around and backtrack to a cool location I just drove by. I vividly remember many of those missed opportunities and will be trying to minimize them in 2020, no matter how painful it feels.
Josh’s Resolution – Trim the Gear and Re-engage
There’s no way around it – 2019 was a down year for my relationship with film photography. It’s been a year of burnout, the same kind that James described in what is perhaps one of the most important articles on our site. I’ve tried digging myself out of it numerous times, but the listlessness and lack of inspiration remains. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to turning the page and getting on with the new year.
For 2020, my New Year’s resolution won’t involve any specific thing relating to film photography. I don’t think I’m there just yet. Instead, I think I’m going to follow the advice of the editor – get back to basics and re-engage. If that involves things like selling everything but my most essential pieces of gear, shutting myself off from social media, or simply dedicating time to studying the greats instead of rolling my eyes at the latest photo fads, I’m totally game. If any of that helps me shut out the noise and gets me to make great images again, 2020 should be a good year.
Charlotte’s Resolution – Shoot My Chroma!
2019 has been a very slow year for photography, for me. I think I’ve shot three rolls of 35mm film, at most, and nothing larger than that. I put this down to a general malaise on my part, due to the state of the world. I don’t expect it to get much better in 2020, but I’m going to try to use photography as a tool to pull myself out of the funk.
A while ago I backed the Chroma Camera on Kickstarter – an acrylic 4×5 camera with full movements and a bunch of colors to choose from. I chose an eye-searing magenta because of course I did. I’ve not dipped my toes into the world of large format before – it all seems very daunting, especially with the price of each shot being rather high (around 40 pence, or 60 cents per shot for Ilford Delta 100) and restricted by how many film holders you have packed and loaded at the time.
Using the camera feels like starting photography from the beginning – each movement of the bellows, extension, tilt and swing makes me feel like a novice, but I just imagine how good it will feel to finally master it. So this is my goal for 2020: take five interesting, well-framed and in-focus photographs with my Chroma.
Aaron’s Resolution – Focus on Cohesiveness
In 2020, I want to take my photography to the next level by focusing on projects. I’m hoping that this approach will help me produce more quality images on each roll than I am currently producing. My goal will be to look down at the light table and see a cohesive theme or motif staring back at me, and not just 36 randomly-chosen negatives.
Choosing a theme, researching the location and having a goal in mind before venturing out with the camera can add some much-needed purpose to your creative output. It allows you to think about photography on a deeper level than just going out and trying to snap a few nice shots.
It also allows you to appreciate the limits of film and ensure that you’re getting the most out of each roll. For example, I have been planning a project based around taking some nightscapes in suburban north London. I decided to use 120 color negative film, as the colour shifts caused by the long exposures will add an ethereal tone to the photos.
There is nothing quite like being surprised by a roll of film that turned out much better than expected, but that is not to say that we should live or die by the analogue gods. By taking some of the chaos out of the process, my hope is that my images will take on new meaning for both me and others who view them.
Cory’s Resolution – Print, Print, Print
Last year I was determined to become a better darkroom printer, so I committed every other Sunday night to making at least one print in the darkroom. To be honest, there were a few weeks when I really didn’t feel like it, but momentum carried me down to my makeshift basement darkroom. I spent around 130 hours under the safelight in 2019 and although it will take me another 77 years to reach Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000-hour mark of mastery, I can see a significant improvement in my prints. The most rewarding part of all of this was being able to give prints I was proud of to my friends and family.
My main goal for 2020 is to continue on this journey. I consider the print the most important aspect of photography and I want to be able to better express myself using it. I want to continue to create work that I can share with loved ones and do it in a way that ensures its survival long after I’m dead and gone.
If I were giving advice to others making resolutions, I would encourage them to really think about one area in which you find yourself in need of development or a new skill or technique you want to learn. Come up with a plan that is both realistic and actionable and then make it happen. Push through the moments of ambivalence and make this thing a priority however long it takes to see results. Whether you commit a month, year, or longer to something, you will look back on this time with satisfaction and pride.
Connor’s Resolution – Long Exposure Projects, Black-and-White
In the coming year (and decade) I want to try new things stylistically. I’ve never made any really long exposures, and my Fujica GM670 is practically begging me to go outside at night and leave its shutter open for minutes at a time. This wasn’t possible where I’ve lived the past few years, but I’m moving to a much warmer climate and I’m very excited to try new things and take things slowly.
I’d also love to shoot more black and white film. I haven’t worked with it in more than a year, and I miss the process. My fellow CP writers talking about development techniques makes me even more eager to work with black and white. I’m so attuned to visualizing my photography in color. I’m hoping that shooting in black and white will help refresh my perspective.
I also want to be nice to people and encourage their photographic growth. Whether it’s by giving someone their first film camera or by sending long messages to people looking for the right lens for their Nikon D3400, I just love to encourage a space of sharing and learning, and I hope to increase those efforts in 2020 and beyond.
Drew’s Resolution – Stop, Think, Plan
I shot my first roll of 35mm film only about twenty months ago. In the time since, I’ve enjoyed shooting over a dozen cameras and captured countless frames of people and places I love. As a hobbyist photographer, I usually just shoot what happens in my life. I do occasionally plan what I do with a photographic mind, thinking about light and locale and what might make for beautiful images but for the most part, I just live and shoot.
But in 2020, I am resolving to plan more. I want this year to be one where I take a new step in my photographing along the lines of planning what I shoot, not just shooting what I plan—in other words, I want to plan photos, plan series, plan projects.
Last month, I picked up a pristine Linhof Super Technika III (Type 5) along with a Schneider-Kreuznach Xenar 4.5/150. The 4×5 format is something I’ve never experienced and represents a workflow so thoroughly different from 135 or even 120 that I hope it’ll jar me into the type of planning to which I aspire. From having to focus under a dark cloth with a loupe on the ground glass, to essentially reloading after every shot, I already know I’ll be forced to think deeply about what shots I take.
My thinking now is to use the Linhof for landscape photography, which is something I already enjoy. So, here’s to a new decade of photos that are sought and not simply captured.
James’ Resolution – Video, Audio, Grow
I founded Casual Photophile in 2014 all by myself and literally no one noticed. And why should they have? It was a little blog covering a niche segment of photography (reviews of the cameras and lenses that I was personally interested in at the time). Well, 2019 just happened and in that year alone the site has been visited by more than 2.5 million people. Altogether we’ve been visited almost 8 million times, which is a staggering number for me. Thank you so much for visiting my site and sharing with me your time and your experiences with photography. I’d also like to thank my small team of writers (and friends) who have helped me build this thing.
This website and my accompanying camera shop has become my entire life, occupationally speaking. And if you’re reading this, I owe you many thanks. The best way I can repay your interest is to continue shooting and writing about cameras and photography. And that’s part of my 2020 New Year’s Resolution – to keep growing Casual Photophile. The other part of my resolution is to finally launch Casual Photophile’s video projects. This will be happening very soon, and I hope you enjoy what I’ve been working on.
Personally I resolve to shoot conceptual photographs that tell a specific story. The work that I have planned is complex and will be extremely challenging in both an artistic and logistic way. We’ll see if 2020 is the year that I can make it happen. Happy New Year to you all.
Thanks for hanging out with us here in 2019. Please let us know your photographic New Year’s Resolutions in the comments below!