Get ready to crush it next year with these 20 (+4 more) Photography Goals for 2020!
As the decade draws to a close, our thoughts turn to reflection and planning. Was your decade meaningful? Was your year everything you wanted to to be? Why or why not? If you need a little inspiration to start the next ten years off with a bang, check out these most-worthy photography goals for 2020. We have ideas for new photographers, new photography business owners or seasoned vetrans just looking for a little inspiration!
Goals for New Photographers
1 – Learn to Shoot in Manual
If you’ve been taking pictures for a while but want to step up your skills, learn to shoot in manual. It sounds intimidating, I know. There’s so much to think about and master. But learning manual is actually liberating! You take full control of your camera, and subsequently, your images. You make the decisions on what’s in focus, how much light comes into your camera and how much grain is acceptable. It’s the single most important skill you can master as a true photographer.
2 – Learn 3 new things about your camera
I’ve been shooting my Nikon D750 for almost three years now and I still learn new things that it can do. What cool things can your camera do that might save you time or effort? How do you fix your camera when you accidentally tweak a setting? If you don’t know everything there is to know about your camera, make 2020 the year you do! Grab your manual and teach yourself about three new functions, settings or buttons!
3 – Start Your Photography Business
If you’ve been waiting to start your photography business until you’re “more ready,” well, you won’t ever feel more ready. You just need to do it. It will be scary and feel overwhelming at first. I mean, what happens if you fail. But in the words of the old quote, my darling, what if you fly?
Stop hemming and hawing and wringing your hands. You know you want to do it so do it. Now, in 2020. In fact, do it in January. There, now you have permission.
4 – Make a Photography Vision Board
A vision board is a visual inspiration board. The idea is to fill it with the things you want in your life, whether it be photography or life-related. Vision boards help keep your goals foremost in your mind and reinforce what you are striving for. It can be words, pictures or a combination of both. Make one and add to it all year to keep you working to crush your dreams!
5 – Find a photography mentor
Having a mentor can mean the difference between succeeding as a photographer and giving up and selling your gear. Mentors teach, inspire and challenge us. They can also be a great sounding board for new ideas or a safe place to vent frustrations and disappointments. You can go it alone, but it’s so much better when you have a mentor on your side. Your mentor might be a photographer in your area or a photographer you admire. You can also find mentors online, like with a membership to the Cole’s Classroom website and CC Photo Pros Facebook group.
Goals for Experienced Photographers/New Business Owners
6 – Get your contracts written and in order
Contracts are one of the most important tools you need for a successful business. They establish the ground rules and protect you and the client in the event something goes wrong. If you don’t have existing contracts for your business, write one. There are some you can purchase online or you can write them yourself. I always recommend running your final contracts by an attorney just to make sure you’ve got your bases covered. Write them, have them reviewed then use them. Every. Single. Session.
7 – Launch Your Website
A Facebook page is great. But a business website is even better. First off, you decide what you can post, how it displays and who sees it. A website also displays your work in a more attractive and easy to search manner. Organize your images, write up your packages and launch your site. If you already have a website, make it a point to keep it updated with your latest work. You’ll look and feel like a true professional!
8 – Blog Regularly
Blogging is a great tool for your business for lots of reasons. It helps with SEO (search engine optimization). A blog gives you new content for your website, lets you connect with readers on a more personal level and can establish you as an expert in your field. Blogging every week would be outstanding, but if that feels too overwhelming, commit to blogging once or twice a month.
9 – Take an Online Class
It has never been easier or cheaper to improve your photography skills! Invest in an online class and improve a skill set as one of your photography goals for 2020. Take a class on posing, editing, marketing or business. Anything to learn a new skill or refresh ideas you may be rusty on.
10 – Start a Mail List
A mailing list is a collection of physical or e-mail addresses of people interested in your work. The idea is that you collect these addresses and then use them to generate leads and interest in your work. You can share sales, coupons or even just tips and ideas to your mail list. The best part about a mail list is that you own it! You don’t have to answer to Facebook, or your web hosting provider. It’s your list and you control it.
11 – Enter a Photography Contest
Sharing our work or putting it out there for official judgment is hard. Like sweaty palms feel like you might puke hard. I’ve been at this business for a while and I still get butterflies submitting my images to a competition. But I also learn a ton about myself and identify room for improvement each time. Look for local or regional competitions in which to participate. Just be sure to read the rules and know how the hosting organization can use your photo and what rights you may be giving up by entering.
12 – Learn to use your flash
No more hiding behind natural light. Learn to use your flash! A well-rounded professional photographer knows how to use on-camera and off-camera flash should the situation require it. You may choose to shoot natural light only, but knowing you can rock some OCF and rock it to the max opens up a lot of different opportunities. Learn how to use your flash, modifiers and set up several classic lighting patterns like butterfly or clamshell lighting.
13 – Have your photo taken
Participating as the subject in a photo session is humbling. Really humbling. It’s a great way to experience a session through the eyes of your clients. And if we are promoting having photos taken we probably should practice what we preach, right?
14 – Read a Business Book and Implement One Idea from it
I’m a big believer in the power of books. There is SO much opportunity to learn and it’s ridiculously affordable (or even free from the library!) Make it a point to read at least one business book this year and implement one new idea from it. My personal recommendation? Building a Story brand by Donald Miller.
Photography Goals for Veteran Photographers
15 – Cross something off your photography bucket list
Nothing gets the creative juices flowing like accomplishing a long-time goal. What experiences are on your bucket list? I realize you can’t exactly up and decide to fly to Tanzania on a whim. But you can start putting money away for that photography safari. Or attend that conference. Make 2020 the year you make one of those dreams a reality!
16 – Teach photography
I still love taking pictures. It’s still exciting to take new jobs and meet new clients. But I also love teaching others about photography. You might too! Teach a workshop about taking great newborn images for expecting mothers. Teach kids through an organization like 4-H or Scouts. Or teach a more formal class through your local education outreach center. Use your knowledge and skill to stir the passion in someone else.
17 – Shoot a different genre just to challenge yourself
It can become tedious to shoot the same kind of images week in and week out. Sure it pays the bills but it can all start to feel too routine. Change it up by shooting a completely new and different genre! If you’re a newborn photographer, make it a point to shoot landscapes twice a month. If you’re a portrait photographer, shoot sports every now and then. Brush up on some long-forgotten skills, learn new ones or just get back to having fun as a ‘tog!
18 – Exhibit your work
Your work is beautiful. It deserves to be seen by the world. In 2020, make arrangements to exhibit your work. Brainstorm a list of places that might like some current and beautiful artwork for their walls. Reach out to those businesses or organizations and gauge their interest. You work can be viewed by new and potential clients and the organization can spruce up their walls!
19 – Collaborate with a new vendor
It’s easy to just stick with what we know, whether it’s shooting styles, locations or editing techniques. But how much could we grow if we surrounded ourselves with new ideas? What could we accomplish by working with other highly movitated business owners? Collaborate with a new vendor as one of your photography goals this year. It could be a new boutique owner, makeup artist, model or graphic artist. Work together to identify ways the partnership can raise the level of excellence of both your businesses!
20 – Start a Passion Project
What tugs at your heartstrings? Fires you up? Makes your heart soar just thinking about it? Is there some way you can turn that subject or organization into a passion project? Combining your passion about a subject or ideal with your photography skills can be SO rewarding and fulfilling. Forget about shooting for money…these experiences can be priceless. Ideas include photographing shelter or rescue animals, donating sessions for foster kids, shooting an event for your favorite non-profit organization or providing headshots for single moms promoting their business. There’s no right or wrong project to be passionate about…it just has to be yours!
21 – Mentor an up-and-coming photographer
Would your photography journey have been easier if you knew then what you know now? Put that experience and skill to work by mentoring a new photographer. Help teach a new generation of photogs, build the photography community and who knows…you might just make a new friend.
22 – Sell some gear or props
The clutter adds up. Just ask my husband or daughter. Set aside time in 2020 to go through your equipment, props, backgrounds and other photography assundry. Sort out the items you don’t want or don’t use anymore. You can sell them online, trade them in to a place like B&HPhoto or KEH.com. Organize a prop swap with other photographers or donate your basic gear to a non-profit organization for their use. Regardless of what you do with the stuff, you’ll feel better, lighter and more organized without it taking up space in your home or studio!
Photography Goals for ALL Levels of Photographers
23 – Attend a photography conference
The last of our photography goals for 2020 applies to all levels of photographers. Find and attend a photography conference. Conferences are a great place to learn new skills, get new ideas, ask questions and try new things. And they are fun! It is so rewarding and affirming to be surrounded by other people who understand the joys and discomforts of the photographer’s life. Choose a conference close to home or make a trip out of it. Immerse yourself in the world of photography for a few days. You’ll come back fired up and ready to kick some serious 2020 butt!
24 – Print your images
We tell clients to print images all the time. We preach about the value of high quality, heirloom prints. But how many images of you and your family are in your home? Do you have any of your own work framed and displayed where you live?
Print your images! Print some big, some medium-sized and print them all at least 4×6. The display them, scrapbook them or just store them for your kids, grandkids and great grandkids to laugh at down the road. Don’t you remember how fun it was going through grandma’s shoebox of prints?
So there you go, 20 (+4) photography goals to keep you on track and crushing it in 2020.
Did we miss any goals you’ve set for yourself? Share them in the comments below!