Baby, it’s cold outside, which makes it the perfect time to assess your photographs, figure out what you did right (and wrong), and set goals for 2019.
Review the “Rules”
Before you start evaluating the images you captured in 2018, think about what makes a great photo to begin with: the rule of thirds, symmetry, contrast, framing, etc. This exercise alone will help your future photographs.
Start with your favorites, i.e. the shots you did some post-processing on. If you made that effort, you must’ve thought the photo had some merit. But also take a look at your entire body of work. Analyze the duds to see what they lack. How’s the composition? Is it telling a story? Is there some contrast in color, or light, or subject matter? Are you shooting from an interesting angle or always at eye level?
Find your strengths
This can be difficult because we always tend to be our own worst critics. But you must be doing something right. Look for the things you always tend to nail. Then congratulate yourself for doing so well. You’ll need the ego boost for the next step.
Identify your weaknesses
Be ruthless or at least honest. It might help to take one aspect at a time. Review all the images just assessing the rule of thirds. Then go over them again to check focus. Then
contrast. Then look for distracting elements. Are interesting details too close to the edge? Where are the lines in the image leading your eye? Is your subject the brightest or sharpest part of the image? Remember, anything that doesn’t add to your composition is probably subtracting from it.
Ask another photographer
When reviewing a photograph, it’s easy to remember the original scene. You saw it in 3D, so your subconscious mind might be adding details that aren’t really there in the image.
Time alone has a way of helping with this, but getting a fresh pair of eyes to view your work will help you see the things that are missing.
If you’re new to this, you may find many issues to address. Don’t get discouraged. Everyone’s been there. Good photographers are just bad photographers who kept striving to improve.
Set some goals
They say the best goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timebound. So keep that in mind when creating yours. They also say that if you do anything 30 days in a row, it becomes a habit. That means 2019 gives you 12 chances to create 12 new habits. So, in January, take a new photo every day that contains something you normally overlook, say, leading lines. When the month is over, you should be seeing leading lines everywhere, even when you don’t have a camera. In February move on to the next thing. By December, you’ll be a master photographer, or at least a lot better than you are now.