Grundarfjordur, Iceland

My New Year’s Resolutions in Photography

In the 5 or 6 years since I’ve ran this travel blog, I have always done New Year’s Resolutions.  I create goals in all aspects of my life, and think that they are important in helping drive me towards where I want to go, or push me in my being the best person I want to be.  This year, however, I thought it would be cool to create some photography resolutions.

It was mid-June when I made the transformation on this blog to be a travel photography blog rather than just travel in general, and as such it only makes sense that the goals for this upcoming year revolve photography specifically.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be making regular New Year’s Resolutions as well.  Just like anyone else, I want to be fitter, work harder, and be a better person, but I like to focus my goals so they don’t seem to wayward or wild.  Thus, here we have my New Year’s Resolutions in photography.


1. Ask for Permission before Shooting and Getting Waivers Signed

In general, I’m pretty good at getting permission before photographing someone.  Of course, like most any photographer when you’re out shooting editorial-style content, there is no real need to get permission other than on an ethical standpoint.  And, like most any photographer, there are a lot of times I photograph people without them having a clue or care in the world that I did. However, where this resolution comes into play is that I would like to use people as models more often than I do.  I’d like to find people in a local environment and have them pose, or at least set them up a bit in their natural scene.  I would also then like to get waiver permissions from some of these people, so I can sell images on a non-editorial basis.  Of course, if they were to turn me down I’d be ok with that.  The problem is that I never ask, and I have had quite a few situations arise where a commercial client wants an image, but I don’t have a waiver for the person in it.  It kills the sale immediately. Cambodian Boy

2. Put myself in more Photos

It’s the challenge of any photographer, to get yourself into photos.  However, over the past couple years I’ve gotten worse and worse at putting myself in front of the camera.  I need to start doing this more in a creative way.  There’s so often that I have a really cool scene, and it’s just missing a bit of human perspective, and I fail to use myself as a subject for a number of reasons.  I need to start getting in front of the camera as well as behind it.  I was better at this before than I am now.  It’s time to start realizing that I can model my own images. Victoria Falls Bungee

3. Build my Client Base

2014 was a fantastic year in building my client base.  I had images in The Guardian, Bing, A German Rail Travel Magazine, as well as countless other places I can’t think of off hand.  This year, I want to continue to expand that client base.  In fact, I’d love to expand that base to a point where I had to start turning down assignments.  This industry is about making connections and networking almost as much as it is photography. And, over the years I’ve always been good at the travel and shooting side of things, this year I need to get more involved in the networking. Grundarfjordur, Iceland

4. Stop Skipping Shoots out of Laziness

I skipped a lot of golden and blue hours in 2014.  Part of it was because I was just so exhausted from such an intense schedule of travel, but a lot of it was excuse making too.  I can’t tell you how many times this past year I was in a location and looked outside and said “meh, the light isn’t very good” or “there’s nothing really all that cool to shoot”.  But the truth is that if you want to be making it in this travel photography game, you have to shoot every chance you get.  Not every location is the Grand Canyon, and that makes it harder to build the energy to go out and shoot, but you need to be building on your stock portfolio as often as possible, and in as many locations as possible.

Part of the Iceland photo story has to include classic images like this one of Kirkjufellsfoss, of course. This is one of the most iconic places in all of Iceland.


5. Keep my Stock Portfolios up to Date

I was really bad at keeping my stock photography portfolios up to date this year.  In fact, it wasn’t until October that I started uploading files from the start of the year.  And, sure, in the long run it’s really just important that my various agents get a hold of them.  But, the truth is I’m sure I missed out on significant money because I didn’t drop them in sooner. To give you an example, I dumped a certain image into my ShutterStock “micro-stock” account in September.  Since then it has accrued about $50 in earnings.  Had I put it in last November when I took the image, assuming the same rate, I would have earned about $150 by now.  Of course, in the microstocks that doesn’t sound like much money, but when you consider the possibility of hundreds of images, it is.  Moreover, it doesn’t even account for the images that may have sold in big stock agencies I file with that I potentially missed selling images for $200-1000s of dollars.  This year, I have to upload after every shoot. Dubrovnik, Croatia

6. Start Using Flashes

Believe it or not, I’ve not been shooting flashes hardly at all since becoming a travel photographer.  I have always preferred natural light. I’ve used reflectors, and light softeners, but I have always used natural light.  However, this year, I want to start creating some images using off-camera flashes as well.  Of course, the problem is that I don’t really want to carry around a bunch of flash gear.  I also don’t have a lot of money floating around to by a good flash set.  However, I’m working on finding a solution for both these potential problems.  Hopefully, 2015 will be the year of the flash. Fouta Djallon Girl

7. Sell out Both my Workshops

I didn’t run any workshops in 2014.  It was the combined result of being too busy on the road and wanting to explore on my own in places that were a bit off the beaten path.  However, I’ve got 2 workshops planned for 2015.  My goal for the year is to sell out both.  As of now, our travel photography workshop in Peru has sold 10 of the 12 spots, which is awesome.  My second workshop of the year will take place in Patagonia in October.  Sales for that workshop will start in a month or so. Patagonia

8. Hit 15,000 subscribers on my YouTube Channel

Creating a YouTube Photography Channel has been a lot of fun, and it has opened a lot of doors.  My video featuring an interview question and answer with Chris Hadfield went viral and was featured places like PetaPixel, FroKnowsPhoto, and by the Mythbusters.  It got over 100,000 views. Since starting the channel in June, I’ve gained about 2,600 subscribers and had about 210,000 views.  That’s crazy to me! However, I want 2015 to be even bigger.  I want the production value on my channel to go up a bit, and I hope people will start to latch on.  This month has been awesome.  I’m averaging about 50 subscribers a day.  If I can somehow maintain something similar throughout 2015, I think 15,000 is a safe goal.  20,000 would be unreal!

What’s Next on the Travel Photography Blog

Up next I’ve got a comparison between the Canon 6D and the 7D mark ii, I know I’ve had a bunch of requests for that.  Then, soon after, we’ll hit the highway for the start of our big US Road Trip hitting up locations like Horseshoe Bend, White Sands, New Orleans, and much more.  Stay tuned!