As 2009 draws to an end, I’m once again going to look back at the year, and see how I did against the want-to-do list that I set for myself for this year, and talk a little about what I plan to do in 2010. Note that I called it a want-to-do list, because I have resigned myself to the fact that there are things that I will just not have time to do. I like to aim pretty high though, and at least succeed in some areas, even if I don’t achieve everything that I’d like to do. As long as I accomplish some of the stuff, or redirect my energies somewhere that I can live with, then I’m happy.
The first thing on my list from 2009 was to plan the 2010 Hokkaido Workshop as soon as possible on my return from the February 2009 trip and start to work on some real advertising.
Well, I certainly did get to the planning quickly. I also added the Snow Monkeys as an optional excursion, and I found that with releasing information about the trips early enough, I was able to achieve enough bookings in the first few months for me not to worry about paid advertising as such. By October the workshop was fully booked, so I’m very happy about the way the workshops are working out, especially in the current economy.
Next, I’d said that I wanted to find a venue for a show of my work, either paid for by me, or sponsored. My third goal was that I wanted to do a book that would accompany the show. Neither of these happened. I did look into both, but the gallery that I had in mind wouldn’t allow you to sell a book or prints at the show, and I ran out of time and motivation on this as I put my energies into the production of the fine art folios that I released a few weeks ago. Definitely not off my radar though, as I move into 2010.
Next was that I wanted to offer a few loose page fine art print portfolios of my work. This of course was accomplished, as I just said, I released the first three fine art folios a few weeks ago. You can check those out at www.mbpfolios.com. They took a lot of work to plan and produce though, and with it taking basically a full day to produce a three folio set, it’s something that will continue to take time as I sell these. It was a great project though, and it’s amazing to see my work in such a high quality presentation. There’ll be more to come in 2010 as well.
Another goal for 2009 was that I wanted to do more paid portrait work. I also noted that this may be preceded by putting together a nice web page to promote the portraiture work. Well, I kind of half achieved this. I did a bit of paid portrait work this year, but not as much as I wanted to. What I did do though, was complete some very important preparation. In addition to the few paid jobs that I did, I hired an outdoor studio and had four families that helped me pay the studio rental fees come by and we did four consecutive portrait shoots. As we leave 2009, I now have a whole bunch of great shots in my portfolio, and a signed model release for each of the people in the photos, and will be putting together a portraiture site, or a section of my main site at least, that will be specifically to showcase my portrait work, and I intend to include package pricing details etc. This and some other marketing that I have still to figure out will hopefully help me to build on this side of my business in 2010.
The next goal up, although kind of laughable in some respects was that I wanted to read more. I told you that had picked up a number of great photography books in 2008 that I still hadn’t read. Well, again, I kind of half achieved this. I definitely read more than 2008, but not as much as I’d like to have, and I ended up adding a whole bunch of books to my collection in 2009 as well. Some of the new books got read before my 2008 books, but I was happy with that decision. The desire to read the book is important to me, especially as I’m a slow reader, so it really takes a lot of effort for me to read a book cover to cover. Once I start a book though, I do like to get through it while I can still remember what I’d just read, and so I made a little more time for reading in 2009. I did find it nice to just sit with a book on the odd evening, and I intend to continue to try to make time for reading in 2010.
Towards the end of 2008 I’d picked up the Adobe CS4 Design Premium Suite, and one of my goals was to get up to speed on all of the applications in that. This is pretty much done to the level I’d hoped. I learn by doing projects, and so I made it my goal to totally revamp my Workshops Web site using Dreamweaver. It was a pig of a program to get used to by the way. I’d used an old version in the late 90’s, but none of what I’d learned helped. I ended up signing up for an account at Lynda.com and went through a few tutorials to help me to learn Dreamweaver. I then went on to do my fine art folios Web site.
I’d also learned Illustrator back in college here in Japan between 1995 and 97, but Illustrator has also changed so much that I felt I had to relearn most of it. Again, Lynda.com came in handy, and I used Illustrator to design the folder for my folios, and I redid my kneeling photographer logo in Illustrator as I needed to send the die-press company some quality graphics. This was all an education. I learned a certain amount of InDesign, which I used to produce the PDF that I put together to show you my Printing Test Results, which I released with episodes 192 and 193.
There are still a few programs in the CS4 Web Design Premium suite that I haven’t had a project to force me to learn them yet, but I’m feeling pretty good now at the end of 2009, and happy that I bought a suite, instead of just Photoshop.
Another goal that I set for myself in 2009 was to do more social networking. I’ve still not uploaded all of my best work to Flickr, and I still don’t comment on peoples’ work as much as I need to, but I’ve definitely done more there this year. I actually redirected a lot of my Social Networking time to Twitter and Facebook more than Flickr. I set up a fan page for Martin Bailey Photography, and at the end of 2009 have around 360 people that have registered with the page. There are also just under 1,600 following me on Twitter now, and I have made a lot of new friends on Flickr as well, so I certainly feel as though I’m starting to get to grips with Social Networking now. By the way, links to my Flickr, Facebook and Twitter accounts are all on my blog and Web site if you haven’t hooked up already.
My ninth goal for 2009 was that I wanted to make sure that I always have time each week to continue to do this Podcast. Well, I’m still here, so I guess I achieved this goal. I am still very much enjoying doing this Podcast too, although it is a big chunk out of my free time each week. As I’ve mentioned before though, doing this Podcast not only helps me to get my name and my images out there, but it also keeps me in check, and I am sure that I myself have become a better photographer through doing this, and I get to meet all of you listeners either in the forum or on Facebook, Flickr or Twitter etc. and you really do all make it worthwhile, so thanks very much for continuing to listen. I’m really grateful for the community that we have built around this Podcast and forum. You’re a great bunch, and I certainly intend to be saying something similar to this at the same time next year.
For my tenth goal for 2009, I said that most important thing for me was that I must continue to feel that my photography is progressing. I said that our newest work should be our best and even if I don’t get to photograph as often as I’d like, I want the photography that I do to be quality work that I’m happy with. Well, in my own humble opinion I feel that I have achieved this goal. Of course, this is subjective and you might think that my photos are crap, but personally, I think that I have continued to grow as a photographer in 2009. I most certainly haven’t shot as much as I’d have liked, but this year I’m not going to be beating myself up, because I’m happy with most of the reasons for this.
Firstly, as we’ve seen, I’ve either partially or fully achieved 8 out of my 10 goals for 2009. In addition to these goals, I also started a blog, which takes up a fair amount of extra time each week, though I’d like to be able to do more in the future. I now release the transcript for every Podcast episode along with the audio each week, and I have released the transcript for some of my more difficult to grasp archived episodes as well.
I was not happy about the amount of times that I wanted to get out shooting, but couldn’t because of problems with my Web sites. We’ve had a pretty horrible year when you look at the number of times the web sites have been down. I actually spent my entire Sunday this week moving everything to a totally new provider though. I’ve had all of the audio from the Podcast being served by GoDaddy for a few months now, and as of yesterday, all of my other Web sites are now being served up by the Media Temple Grid-Service. Both of which I’m very happy with, as you might be able to tell, because it’s the first time I’ve told anyone the name of the providers. I’ve been too unhappy with my provider so far to tell you who they were. I’m really hoping that both of these companies continue to impress me, as I’ve really not enjoyed messing you listeners around either, with the sites being down etc. I’m pretty confident that things are going to get better now though. Let’s hope that these are not famous last words. 🙂
I do intend to do a best 10 pics from 2009 episode this year too, probably next week now, so that will be the first episode of the 2010. I hope you’ll agree when we look back at my selection of images for the year, but generally I feel as though I have refined my eye through this year. I have been more selective in what I shoot, and I feel that I’ve captured the things that I have shot with a higher quality than previous years. Of course, I’m still happy with much of my previous work, but as I said when I discussed my last 2009 goal, I really do think that your last year’s work should be your best. If it isn’t there’s almost certainly something wrong.
Also, I am a big believer in working a location, not just once, but many times. My wife has asked in the past, “Why do you return to the same location time and again?” The answer is that you learn how to shoot, or how not to shoot a location or particular subject more each time you photograph it. Of course, weather conditions and the condition of the subject will always effect what you get at a given time, and there is no guarantee that you are going to get better shots every year, but in general, learning the idiosyncrasies of a location or subject will help you to bring out the best of it in your photographs. Of course, it’s important to find new locations and subjects to shoot too, but with the little time I’ve had this year, it’s often a safe bet to go back to somewhere that you know, and try to improve on your previous attempts. I save finding new spots for when I have more time, which isn’t that often at the moment unfortunately.
Anyway, let’s start to look at my goals for 2010. There is a possibility of big changes in 2010, but for now here’re my slightly conservative 2010 goals.
- Once again, the first big job of is to plan the 2011 Hokkaido Workshops as soon as possible in 2010. I’m even thinking that I’d like to at least get the schedule down, and book some of the smaller hotels before we even make the 2010 trip, just to make sure that I can get enough rooms etc.
- Add three more fine art folios in 2010. My current three fine art folios are just a start. I have ideas for a lot more, and want to release at least one more every four months or so. This will depend on sales of the first three though.
- Build that portraiture site. As I said earlier, I have laid a lot of foundations to really start to seek more portraiture work, so I want to build the site and work on that side of my business in 2010.
- Learn Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 and do more video. I bought Adobe Premiere Pro CS4 recently, and need to really learn the ins and outs of video editing. I don’t intend to go video crazy right now, but I definitely want to do more than I am now, and edit it nicely into say promotional videos for my workshops or just by adding short video clips into slideshows.
- Watch at least one Kelby Training Video per month. I signed up for Kelby Training a few months ago, and I’m finding myself over at Kelby Training a little more often than Lynda.com now, because the content is more photography centric, but both are excellent resources, and the one I go to at a given time depends on what I want to learn.
- Copyright all of my best shots. I have around 2,000 images that I consider to be my best work, and I fully intend to copyright these online in 2010. Rest assured, when I get around to this, there’ll be a Podcast on it!
- Blog more — at least two none Podcast blog posts per month. This will depend on time, but I’d really like to do at least a couple more blog posts each month that are not just the Podcast transcript and images.
- Once again, I do want to find that venue for a show of my work. I seriously want to do an exhibition, and will hopefully be able to raise the priority of setting this up in 2010 and just make it happen. An accompanying book would be nice, but I can also consider just making sure I have some folios in stock, or sample folios to show people to take orders to be fulfilled later.
- I’d like to introduce at least one more workshop, in addition to my Snow Monkey and Hokkaido workshop. At a minimum, I want to work on some weekend workshops around Tokyo, but I have lots of other ideas too. Let’s see how this one pans out.
- Continue to grow! Some of these are almost givens, so I’m going to group them together. I’m going to continue the Podcast, and try to get at least one more sponsor, hopefully two more. I want to reach at least 5,000 followers on Twitter and 3,000 fans on Facebook. And of course, I need to feel as though I’m a better photographer by the end of 2010 than I am at the end of 2009.
So there you have it. I might not achieve all of these, but you never know, I might knock a few out of the stadium as well.
Also, as this will be the last episode of 2009, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year, and thank you for listening through 2009.
On a finishing note, I just wanted to let you know that I was the guest on Scott Bourne’s Photofocus Podcast released on the 25th of December, so check that out if you haven’t already. You can listen to the audio and read the show-notes in the blog post, or subscribe and download through iTunes, if you don’t already. Scott and I chatted for an hour and answered lots of great photography questions, so do check that out.
I was a guest on Scott Bourne’s Photofocus Podcast: http://photofocus.com/2009/12/25/photofocus-podcast-episode-25/
Music from Music Alley: http://www.musicalley.com/
Download the Enhanced Podcast M4A files directly.