Home » Looking Back To Look Forward

Like most photographers, I have a lot of long-term career goals. Examples of these are to teach creative photography workshops around the world and to have my own (or group) gallery show.

For me, these goals are moments in my career that I aspire to achieve, regardless of how hard or unlikely they seem but I feel that by having such long-term goals has really blinded to my current success.

Sure, I’m nowhere near having a gallery show, or teaching workshops, but at the end of the day, it’s not a problem as I’m only at the start of my career.

The other day, my brother turned to me whilst I was retouching an image at university and he told me he was proud of me and how much my photography has developed over the last few years. I replied to this statement with a “What progression’? and a roll of the eyes.

This was an unexpected thing for my brother to say to me and although I wan’t convinced, it really made me question my current work and consider if it really had progressed. I then took a look at my work from 2012 (which I deleted from the internet about a year ago) and again at my work in 2013. My brother was right. I have progressed quite a lot, but because I’m constantly thinking about what photo shoot I’m yet to do and always editing images, I did not see my current success and development.

Which leads me on to the point that when you feel down about your work, or when you’re stuck for where to go next with your ideas, take a look back at your work from a year ago, 2 years ago or 3 years ago. Compare it with the work you’re doing now and really consider how far you have come. Even if you feel that you haven’t progressed, look back at your work and consider why you haven’t progressed and what you can do to reach the next level in your work.

What achievements have you reached since last year? Even if they didn’t seem important at the time, write a list of everything that you’ve accomplished and how that has helped you grow as a photographer/creative. Sometimes the smallest things can be the most rewarding.

Here’s my list. I hope that you share yours too:

Jan 2014:

I’m in the process of having my work published in 2 different Coventry University Prospectus’.
I didn’t think this was a big deal until 2 days ago when I spoke to a friend about it.

I’ve worked for a range of clients, only one of which has paid me.
I now have the knowledge of how to approach and work with a client to create an image and found out that it something I definitely want to develop more within my work. I have also learnt the importance of not doing work for free and that turning down free work is not always a bad thing.

I tried my hand at beauty photography.
I found out that I enjoyed it enough to continue doing alongside fashion and fine art photography.

I have networked with some make up artists and models.
By doing so, it has really allowed me to build up the start of a portfolio, which I can send to potential clients/ other models, which will enable me to create more work. Networking is one of my biggest achievements so far this year.

I’m going to have a piece of my work put up in the Ellen Terry Building, in my university.
This is a very big deal that I really feel indifferent about. I should really be a bit more humble about my achievements as I should probably be proud that my university is putting my work on their wall.

I have pushed myself to keep creating images.
This may not seem like an achievement, but I ‘m all too aware of how plans can fall apart and how you can easily procrastinate if you stop taking images for a while or if your images don’t go to plan. My advice is keep going, no matter how you feel about your last image, whether good or bad, keep creating. The worst thing you could do is stop.

I’m hopefully going to have a fashion editorial published in a fashion magazine in June.
This has really helped my confidence and made me realize that I shouldn’t worry so much about creating work. I’m going to be writing a blog post about this editorial, as the circumstances around it were quite interesting.

I’m slowly building up an audience for my work.
One thing I am not very good at is marketing my work. So far this year, I have been trying to build up an audience for my work and I feel that slowly (which is always the best way) I am doing this.

I shot a look book for the recent Coventry University Fashion graduates.
Not only is this look book going to distributed around the country, shooting this has made me realize that photographing look books is something that I would love to do. I hadn’t even considered doing this. Ever.

I have found out exactly what I don’t want to (photographically) do.
This is probably the best achievement so far. It is so easy to have an idea of what you want to do and pursue it, but it means nothing if you end up working on projects that you are just not interested in. I have learnt exactly what I don’t want to do and it has helped to become more focused on the thing I do want to do.

When you have finished your list, you should think about all of the things you have done and then congratulate yourself for having done them. Your achievements will mean nothing if you don’t give yourself credit for them.

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