When the muggles – be they friends, family or loved ones – ask us about our New Year's resolutions, we don't usually say what they really are. That's because saying, "Yeah, I'll go to the gym more," is much easier than trying to explain why your 2024 resolution is actually to clean your camera sensor or upgrade your memory cards.
Non-camera folk just don't understand these things, so we fob them off with platitudes… but if we don't share our resolutions somewhere, we'll never stick to them! So, everybody reading this is now officially a DCW Accountability Buddy™, and the team needs you to hold us accountable for sticking to these promises in 2024!
Buy less gear!
As a camera journalist who makes their living waxing lyrical on the latest and greatest camera gear, it's a little ironic that my resolution is to buy less of it! Now to be clear, this isn’t to escape any escalating debts, this is just to save my poor shelves from having to make space for another lens I am seldom going to use.
This year I invested heavily in Fujifilm cameras and lenses, an easy feat, as Fuji X gear can be a lot cheaper than other brands, especially second-hand. I now have several shiny new (or at least new to me) lenses waiting to be used. The main issue, I only ever leave the house with the same 35m lens on my camera. Next year I resolve to not buy any more gear I do not need (and as a bonus resolution – use what I actually own!).
Take black-and-white film more seriously
My New Year's resolution regarding photography is to take my black-and-white film shooting, developing, and scanning a little more seriously. Currently, I just use a mono bath (all-in-one solution) to develop my negatives at home and scan them on my Canon Canoscan 9900F Mark II. However, I want to experiment with other developers and nail down my scanning techniques to produce richer, better negatives, and overall crisper scans and images.
First of all, I will invest in a darkroom changing bag – rather than loading my film into my Paterson tank in my awkward, Harry Potter-style cupboard – so I can change and load film anywhere. Once that is acquired, choosing another “proper” black-and-white developer will be my next move to see what results I like with the film stock I often shoot, then a deep dive into my current scanner – yes it is a flatbed, and won’t give leading performance results over a dedicated film scanner, but I’m hoping this will heal the wounds of intrigue.
Let's hope it all works out because if it doesn’t, I’ll probably buy a Leica Monochrom out of sheer madness and despair!
Up my videography game
Last year my photography-related New Year resolution was to shoot more medium format, and lo and behold I managed to keep it! I still haven't invested in a light meter, as they're not cheap, but I have used my Sony A7 III or a light meter app on my phone as a workaround.
This year, I'm dead set on becoming a much better videographer and video editor. I've always enjoyed shooting video but I want to start creating more exciting content with thoughtful transitions, well-executed storyboards and applying more effects during the editing process to bring my videos to life.
To create more professional-looking videos, I have also vowed to start using my gimbal more. While the camera I own does have in-body stabilization, it doesn't quite cut it for scenes where I am walking. So to get smooth shots while on the move, I need to get over balancing it correctly and not be so lazy when it comes to taking it on shoots.
Buy a "proper camera"
Just one dedicated camera to call my own. I recently sold my trusty Nikon D5500 to help fund another project, leaving my Samsung Galaxy A53 phone to cover all my photographic needs. Though good enough for most situations, the phone's primary (wide-angle) camera isn't a great focal length for portraiture, and with no telephoto module, anything requiring some zoom can only be achieved by cropping in on a section of a wide-angle shot.
Investing in a new interchangeable lens camera system can be daunting as, whichever system you choose, you'll likely be wedded to it for a long time – for better or worse! Thankfully these days there are very few truly bad cameras, and let's face it – we're not short of buying guides on this website to help guide a new purchase!
Shoot (and share) for myself, not just for clients
Working as a commercial photographer for the past eight years has been a blast, but it often means I am shooting concepts and ideas to meet the briefs of others. While studying for my MA in photography this past year I have, for the first time, been working on a large personal project, which has been a freeing experience. Without the constraints of briefs and the approval of others, I have been able to shoot with freedom much akin to when I first picked up a camera.
In the new year I will start disseminating this work, but I would be lying if I said I didn't feel anxiety over sharing my first personal project. New Year's resolutions can be a good way of ensuring accountability, therefore I will aim to not only share the finished work but the work in progress and development stages, too, in the hopes that it may be useful to others. So, my New Year's resolution for 2024 is a two-parter; to continue to make personal work for myself and to share it!
Ditch apps, use my computer
This year my photography resolution is to spend more time with my computer. I know, boring right? But the thing is I love the gadget fun of all my drones, cameras, assorted security devices and other weird toys and spend far too little time looking at the results on a decent-sized screen.
If anything, the arrival of apps has compounded the problem. I've barely used a device this year that doesn't have some kind of app connection, live view, or remote control, and I start to think of the images and video I capture too much in terms of the quick likes from family members or social feeds than as something with a worth of their own. To bring that out I need to take a breath, look at the RAW file or video equivalent, make some measured adjustments, and enjoy the rush I felt in the field again, differently.
As a stretch goal I'm going to try to print more pictures, buy more picture frames and keep the walls of the house busy. Until I put a nail through a water pipe, anyway!
Rip it up and start again
Owning a camera system is a bit like owning a house. When you get a new home, you spend time gradually improving it… and over time you improve it. Put in a new kitchen, add a sun deck, landscape the garden, and maybe add an extension. With a camera system, you start with the body – and over time add lenses, remotes, grips, flashguns and more to pimp it out to the max to meet your peculiar photographic needs.
I've had more camera systems now than I've had homes. Being a camera journalist has made me switch more often than most – enticed by the opportunity to try new tech. Somehow I currently have three camera systems – and the truth is that none of them suit my purpose. I have a very professional Nikon D800 system with top-class glass, which is too bulky for my current needs (and needs an expensive service). I have a Fujifilm X-T1 that looks great, but I don't enjoy – despite having a big bag of lenses. And a Sony A7 II that I love, but only have a kit lens for.
So in 2024 I am going to sell all of it (or anything that has value), and start again. It will be as traumatic and emotional as moving home. But I know it is time to move on.