2011 is all set for a grand end & we’ll soon be in the New Year – 2012. At this point of time, everybody makes resolutions for the new year as of self improvement, achieving a certain goal & even spending more time with your family. While I completely believe in making new year resolutions & following them, being a photographer you should definitely make them. If you want to take your photography a notch above & improve as a photographer, you should make(& follow off-course)resolutions. I list some, which I find will definitely improve your photography skills in the coming year.

1) Undertake a 365 Project:
‘365 Project’ is one where a person takes a photo each day throughout the entire year. The significance of 365 Project is that it makes the person shoot everyday. It accepts no excuses & requires a great deal of dedication to complete. It indirectly helps one to get creative as you won’t find time everyday to get to a scenic location or wait for the sunset. 365 Project requires one to make photo each day under any circumstance, come what may! Even if you’re bedridden & down on health. Alternately a 182 Project is also another short option. But that too requires one to shoot everyday for half an year. Choose wisely & follow the project. Post it online, so you can get feedback on it.

2) Challenge Yourself:
You must be having a two-three bodies, dozens of lenses, couple of flashguns, remote triggers, snoots, soft-boxes etc at your disposal. Once in a while, say for a week, take all the gear out of your camera bag & replace it with just bare essentials. Just take a low-end body, a kit lens(or 50mm in case you’re adventurous) when you go on a photo walk. Work around to get the shot with window light instead with your flashguns. You can further limit yourself to shooting only jpeg’s with no post processing later on computer, shooting only on a small card(128MB or so), not using drive mode & even going full blown manual with manual focus. Repeat this exercise as ofte you can. At the end of the day, you’ll learn a lot about photography & learn to make better pictures with any equipment one throws at you. (P.S – I wish to shoot on a complete manual 35mm film camera in 2012 to challenge myself. Anybody willing to scrap their old film camera? Don’t, I’ll take it).

3) Mentor Someone:
They say, knowledge grows when shared. I can’t seem to believe more. Get into a touch with photographers willing to share & giveback what you know. Collaborate on team projects. Go out on casual shoots. Pick up someone who is eager to get into photography & mentor him/her. Give him/her tips, give your honest feedback when asked for. Just be kind in your approach & look to be a role model for the budding photographer. On teaching & mentoring someone, you not only get to learn new things from your student but also your knowledge expands. You need to get perfect with your knowledge as you don’t want to get stumped by the queries. Its okay getting stumped on a few occasions & this will be those great moments where you will feel better having learnt something new. Not everyone knows everything, but definitely everyone knows something. Learn to Give & Take in the coming year.

4) Improve on Mistakes, Try something New!
You may have made many mistakes in 2011 in photography. Get down with your photos & break them up to know what you need to improve on. Are your photos coming out blurry? Learn to stabilize your camera properly. Does your exposure tends to be off at most times? Learn to balance it. There are many things to learn from your mistakes. Do not get bogged down by mistakes & have fun with them. Also you can become a better photographer by trying out techniques you haven’t tried out before. Try out HDR, Shoot Panoramas, Shoot Star Trails etc. You should know better what you haven’t done till now. Just go out & shoot it in 2012.

5) Read & Write!
Finally, read up about photography on the internet. Check out photography magazines, books etc at your local bookstore. Try to implement the things you learnt into your shooting workflow & see whether you can improve in any area. Also as you read & practice, do consider writing it down & sharing it with the world. Solely for the purpose, I mentioned in #3. You’re not only educating yourself but millions of people around the globe.

Following as much of these five tips in 2012 will make you a better photographer than what you’re now for sure.