January 27, 2009

Planning, Learning, Living and Staying Focused

Planning and Preparation

Perfect planning and preparation (and practice) prevents poor performance! I expect like many of us you started the year off with a few resolutions. Hopes and dreams for the coming year especially considering the current economic climate.

Planning and Preparation for Your Photography Future

I do this every year and always make sure I have done something radically different and out of my comfort zone by the following Christmas. Otherwise I feel it has been a year with no momentum or impetus. Like I haven’t moved forward in any way.

This doesn't necessarily mean work, photography or even money related. It could mean personal goals and achievements in anything to do with your life.

  • Health
  • Love
  • Fun
  • Sports

However, your passion for photography may be burning brightly in you. You may feel you want to move ahead with gusto. Get on with it no matter what your current standard of photography is.

It may be that you are a complete newcomer. However, you may KNOW deep inside that it is what you want to do for a living. You may be an advanced amateur and feel fairly confident in your abilities. You've mastered the skills, but you just lack the confidence for that final push.

Break out of your comfort zone

The only way to learn as a beginner is to read and DO so keep your camera with you at all times and practice, after planning and preparation. Get out of your comfort zone, break the mould and think like a professional photographer from the start. If you are more experienced, you just need to believe that you can "go pro" and start doing it.

This doesn't mean jacking in your job today but simply start to make headway. Get a wedding or two booked, start advertising and getting yourself out there. Don't sit and watch "whatless" TV every night.

Try not to waste countless hours on Facebook (although a little of what you fancy does you good). Do at least one thing positive every day that will continuously and consistently get you one step closer to your goal.

Some (sometimes crazy) stuff I have done

Some of the (sometimes crazy and seemingly pointless) things I have done in the past using goals set at the beginning of a new year include: (even just writing down past achievements motivates me so why not give that a try yourself?):

  • Move abroad - I finally gave in to the urge at 29 years old and literally gave my life away. The car, TV, video, job and left for Spain with just a suitcase, parachute, stereo and a small bundle of cash. If I hadn’t have done that at that precise moment I would never have met my wife and had our 2 children. I cannot imagine how my life would be if I had procrastinated any longer
  • Starting a successful wedding photography business in Spain - I couldn't speak Spanish. I had no camera equipment at the time. No contacts, no experience of shooting weddings with digital gear and no business. I had no income, baby number 2 on the way and a mortgage we had just signed for. It eventually blossomed into a thriving business within 18 months through sheer hard work and determination
  • Learned to skydive - Despite having a massive fear of heights (still have) I became fully qualified in freefall, learned to free-fly. I jumped with friends, and learned "canopy accuracy" by landing on a very small circle from 2,000 feet and so on
  • Fly a plane - Did this whilst learning to skydive with a pilot friend at the drop zone. Only flew from 10,000 feet to about 600 (including steering through clouds) but it was well worth it
  • Learned to play "The Entertainer" in time and accurately on piano (that's not me in the video by the way ; ) - Had no lessons, cannot read music and could play no other tune except for "chopsticks". I simply downloaded the sheet music along with a "Janet and John" tutorial. It showed which notes are where on the keyboard and I learned each section of the tune in small chunks. I would replay the first few bars until I had it nailed and then move on and add the next bit. Took about 3 months and I must admit I only got to about 1.20 minutes on the above video. I think our first child was born at the point I stopped. This will be finished in the future
  • Get a single figure handicap at golf - Started at the max of 28 whilst actually shooting scores of around 130 (par was 72). By the end I was visualizing the course in my mind. I was "virtually" playing each hole perfectly the night before actually playing a round. At the height of my game I got to an 8 handicap and even shot my best score of 4 over (still have the scorecards and a few trophies in the garage). You can apply this to your photography business by "seeing" and believing yourself already as a full time professional! If you do it for long enough, it will
  • Scuba dive with sharks and shipwrecks - Got the chance to do this many times in the Bahamas despite not having much money at the time. The opportunity arose and we immediately grabbed the chance of a two week Caribbean holiday for just £138 plus flights. The main point here is just do it! If any opportunity rears its head, take it
  • To get my work published - I have seen my stock images on huge billboards, in the National Press, book covers, websites, on birthday cards. In Russian magazines, on adverts and we even spotted a huge one in the form of wallpaper on a large wall in a restaurant we ate in last week. That was a great surprise and highly motivational
  • Enduro Africa - This year I will be riding through some of the toughest terrain in Africa over 8 days on a motor-X bike. This is in aid of some incredible charities. After 4 decades I have finally learned that it actually feels better to give something back rather than take it all the time. I desperately need sponsors so if you would like to donate you can see more info here - Enduro Africa. If you would like to sponsor me as part of your business, I am offering advertising space on my crash helmet and clothes for any donations over £100. There is probably only enough room for around 30 in total. Obviously the bigger the donation, the bigger your display on my attire

Planning and Preparation - Future goals

My mid term future goals include:

  • Learning to play the piano to grade 8 and guitar to a good level
  • Building All Things Photography to be one of the biggest and most helpful sites on the web
  • Write a best-selling book
  • Lose 15kg in weight by the end of this year (getting there)!
  • and a few more I haven’t included here

So why have I gone so philosophical in my January 2009 newsletter?

For a start, if any of this motivates just one person then I will be happy. Also, I have learned in the past that no matter how bad things get (credit crunch, recession etc.), as long as you have your health, you will still be here in 12 months.

Whether you are richer or poorer, happier or less content, it is up to you which paths you choose. My past experiences made the last year (moving country and house 3 times with young family in tow) that much easier to bear.

Got the winter blues?

If you have the January/February winter blues and really feel that this is the year for you to make a change, take action now no matter how small, just take it. We are currently writing the new courses for the upcoming membership section of ATP. The plan is for this to become all you need to know to get started. For moving ahead with your photography.

I have had some great feedback and responses so far and as with most things I do. I keep adding to it and hope to eventually include the following for ATP's new members:

  • The Wedding Photography Blueprint course – "online" version with private forum
  • A section for absolute beginners to Digital SLR Photography
  • Further DSLR training for all
  • The Business of Photography - Help with portfolios, advertising and promotions etc.
  • Stock Photography Training
  • Quizzes
  • Live monthly Q & A's
  • Personal tutoring to those who want it

The moral of this story? There isn’t really one, I am just sick of all the doom and gloom in the British media lately. Think positive, get on with your own planning and preparation and good things will happen!

Planning and Preparation
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Planning, positive thinking

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