Reflections on 2011 (Part 2): Lessons Learned This Year

Posted on December 31, 2011

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Hi Again –

As the end of 2011 approaches today, I find it only fitting to end my 2 part reflection blogs with the lessons I have learned this year in both photography and life.

They are as follows:
1. Have confidence.  Have confidence in everything that you do, even if you are nervous or unsure of yourself.  In photography, exuding confidence shows both you and the subjects you are shooting that you know what you are doing and puts everyone at ease.  Remember though confidence does not equal cockiness.

2. Be assertive.  Allow people to give feedback and direction, however ultimately you are in control – of yourself, of your photo shoot.  Do not mistake assertive for bitchiness however.  This is a lesson relevant to all areas of life.

3. Take risks.  So many of my best photos have been because I took risks.  Looked from different angles.  Maybe leaned a little too far off that cliff (just don’t be reckless).  Take risks in exploring different forms of photography – of going outside your comfort zone.  If you’re a nature photographer, try some photojournalism shots.  If you are a wedding photographer, take a step into nature.  You may be surprised at what you find.

4. Be patient.  I talked a lot about this in my blog post about photographing nature, but I think it is more pervasive throughout photography and life.  Be patient with your subjects.  Be patient with your surroundings.  It’s okay to take 300 pictures and only find 3 you like.  My father always taught me that for every roll of film you shoot you should find 1-2 pictures you like.  I keep that rule in mind as I use digital.  For every 360 photos I take there may be only 36 photos that I truly think are worth keeping and personally, I think that’s okay.  (Wedding photographers may disagree… but I’m not a wedding photographer 🙂 )

5. Take care of your gear.  Jamming your expensive camera and lenses that you saved up for for over a year into your purse does no good for anyone.  Yes, you may look like a tourist carrying your bag around with you, but hey, that’s okay!  If that’s not an option just remember to treat your gear kindly – it is your friend.

6. Finally, have fun!  When something you enjoy starts feeling tedious or like work, then you need to take a step back and look at why.  Everything you do has a chance for burnout.  Personally, this is why photography is something I do on the side and leave the burnout for my full time career.

I hope these lessons that I have learned in 2011 are helpful to others as well – whether you are just starting out or if it’s just a reminder to those who have been photographers for years.

Have a Happy New Year!  Stay Safe.  Check back tomorrow for the first blog post of 2012 where I detail some new gear I got this holiday season, how I intend to use it, and feedback from those of you out there who have used these new attachments and have tips.

Signing of for 2011 #A. L. Kohlmann

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