Top 5 Personal Photography Resolutions for 2014

As photographers, we often spend a lot of time and effort chasing that next portfolio shot.  But, we’re also the designated family photographers.  As the saying goes: “A cobbler’s children have no shoes”…well if you’re like me you could also say “A photographer’s children have no photos.”

Admitting that you have a problem is supposedly the first step in solving a problem – so here are my top five personal photography resolutions for 2014.

Little Girl on waterslide jp danko toronto commercial photographer

Did I take a D800 in a huge waterproof housing down a giant waterslide with my daughter, despite the half hearted objections of the teenage lifeguards?  Yes I did.

2014 Personal Photography Resolution 1
Take Less – But Better – Family Photos

We see this all the time:  The mother of the bride recording video of the entire wedding ceremony on her cell phone.  Parents snapping photo after photo at their kid’s music recital.  Not to mention the obligatory cappuccino and food photos followed by a Facebook selfie and the caption “om nom nom nom”.

I don’t want to be that guy.  I don’t want to live life looking at a screen (or through a viewfinder  – I still have one of those old fashioned DSLRs).  I want to live in the moment and actually enjoy what is going on.  I want my kids to grow up with the understanding that living life is more important than recording life.

So this year, my top resolution is to take less family photos – way less in fact. 

Instead, I am going to concentrate on taking better family photos.

Woman photographing children jp danko toronto commercial photographer

Here is what we see.

woman taking photos up close jp danko toronto commercial photographer

This is what they see.

If you need a little more incentive to put your camera away (and you haven’t seen it yet) – here is the short film “I Forgot My Phone”.

2014 Personal Photography Resolution 2
Make an Annual Photobook and Highlight Video

I have thousands and thousands of family photos and hours and hours of family video sitting on my computer hard drive right now.  At any second, all of them could be gone in a puff of electrical smoke (well not quite since they are all backed up – but you get the point).

Every year I intend to make a nice big 12×12” photobook (yes…a hardcopy…with actual physical prints…on paper…) of all the best photos from the year – but somehow I never get around to it.

Similarly, every year I intend to put together a simple video compilation of all the best video highlights from the year – but again, somehow I never get around to it.

Well this year, my second resolution is to make an annual photobook and highlight video.

batgirl halloween costume jp danko toronto commercial photographer

Highlights from Halloween 2013.  I’m thinking this would work well as a nice double truck in the 2013 family photobook.

2014 Personal Photography Resolution 3
Make Photo Prints to Hang Up on the Walls

I don’t have a single photograph that I have taken hanging on the walls in our house. 

Not one.

I have tons of photos that I have been intending to get printed and hang up for years, but like the annual family photobook and video, I’ve never gotten around to actually printing them.

Part of the reason is that big wall prints are a bit of an investment.  Those four 36×36” canvas gallery wraps that I have been intending on printing for my living room are a bit of an investment.

And, every year I keep taking better photos – so it’s hard to decide what is wall worthy.

But this year, my third resolution is to fill the walls of my house with big huge canvas gallery wraps of all the great family pictures that I have been intending to get printed for the past 6 or 7 years (my oldest daughter is 7 so that is the benchmark).

Family on commuter train jp danko toronto commercial photographer

Family time on the Go Train.

2014 Personal Photography Resolution 4
Delete Crappy and Duplicate Family Photos and Video

I have way, way more crappy and duplicate family photos and video than I do keepers (see Resolution 1).  For some reason, I have much more difficulty culling bad family photos and video than I do deleting bad commercial work.

I mean, why am I keeping fifty photos of my son blowing out his birthday cake candles (see Resolution 1), when two or three would be more than enough?

All that junk is just taking up space on my hard drive, and it also makes it much more difficult to find the good family photos and video that I want to keep.

So my fourth personal photography resolution this year is to go through my personal photography library and permanently delete all of the repetitive, or just plain bad family photos that I have saved over the year.

little boy jumping into lake in muskoka jp danko toronto commercial photographer

For this photo my camera was in high speed burst.  I have at least thirty shots of two or three jumps.  This is the best one – why am I keeping the rest?

2014 Personal Photography Resolution 5
Create Opportunities for Great Family Photos

I think a lot of the tension around photographing family events (see Resolution 1) stems from trying to shoehorn a family photography session into a family function. 

I can’t make myself take a snapshot in bad light with a bunch of junk in the background – I just can’t help it – I have to move things around, change the lighting, improve the composition, fiddle with camera settings…which annoys everyone involved, and changes the dynamic of the moment.

No kid wants to pause on the verge of ripping open a birthday present so that you can tilt the patio umbrella a little further to the left to get rid of a sunlight hotspot on his face.

So this year my goal is to schedule at least one family session a month where we go somewhere and do something fun, with the clear understanding that we are also there to take photos.

We did a few “Family Fun Foto Days” last year and they worked out really well – in fact, my favorite photo of the year was taken on a trip that we organized specifically as an extended lifestyle family photo session.

family at museum jp danko toronto commercial photographer

Visiting the dinosaurs at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

What Are Your Personal Photography Resolutions In 2014?

Are you going to try and keep that smartphone camera in your pocket this year – or are you thinking about jumping into the exciting and rewarding world of life logging? 

Are you happy with your photos living online as Facebook status updates and Instagram pics, or do you prefer actual real world prints? 

Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

little girl rock climbing jp danko toronto commercial photographer

About The Author

JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand.

To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube.

JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.

  • jempeas

    Collaborate with cool people to make cool stuff more often and shoot more medium format film.

  • Simon

    Start 2013 resolutions….

  • Wil Fry

    #1 Ha. That’s my resolution every year. :-)
    #2 Meh. One of the reasons I got into digital in the first place is to have all that online instead of piles of books and prints around the house.
    #3 My wife insists certain images get turned into prints. Otherwise, I prefer to share via the internet
    #4 That was one of my resolutions a few years ago; now I do it by habit whenever I copy them from the SD card. I keep an average of 30% from each incident/event.
    #5 I like that one. :-)

  • Ralph Hightower

    I don’t have any photography resolutions for 2014. I did complete the only resolution that I made for 2012: Photograph the year in B&W; I used B&W film exclusively. Did I have regrets? Sure, particularly when seeing a stunning sunrise or sunset. I was tempted, but I stayed steady. 2012 was a year of growth for me, to visualize in B&W and also experiment with B&W contrast filters.

  • Kelly Holliday

    those are great, mine are pretty much the same and have been planning those annual books for…. well annuals :)

  • renegadepr

    Make art and hang it on the wall…that’s a must for 2014. Funny how photographers seem to be the last to print their own prints.

  • FJ1200

    I have similar resolutions.
    #1 – same
    #2 – Do more night photography. Something I enjoy but not very good at and not very confident going out on my own. Been doing some over the Christmas beak.
    #3 – This was last year’s – I love seeing my photos in print, but we’ve been decorating and I now have a stack of framed prints and don’t know where to hang them now for best effect!
    #4 – I have digital images going back to 2002 and hate deleting anything, but we never look at them so I probably need to go through them and tag them properly in Lightroom. Just need a few hours or days!
    #5 – Kids are mid-late teens and 21. Getting them together is a challenge. My eldest hates having her photo taken or displayed on the wall – causes a certain amount of frustration. We go to Italy each year, and have been to Montepulciano in Tuscany 5 or 6 times now – we love it there. Each time we go I have taken a family shot in the same place by a road sign looking out over the plain below. I have them in small 6×4 frames – shows the growth of the kids very clearly. Especially my son going from a 7-year old to a strapping 17 year-old towering over his mum! It also shows a bush behind them in stages of growth over the years.

  • That guy

    Take FEWER photos, not less …

    … resolution for blog writers … be sure of your grammar before you build an entire post around it …

  • Brett Martin

    I joined a local photo club which has separate categories for print and digital. This forced me to print my images. At $15 for a mounted 10×15″ print it’s reasonable and forces me to print the 1-2 photos I like the most every month. After the competition they are hung on my wall and rotated monthly. Competition has helped me be far more critical of my own work and now I’m not afraid to press the delete key. Currently I keep around 5% of the personal photos I take, my goal this year is to think for a moment before pressing the shutter.