But I recently realized that looking back at accomplishments over the last year can be just as important as setting goals for the next. I also want to look at my year in review.
I learned a lot in 2016. I took a class on large format photography. I gained the courage to ask strangers if I may take their portraits. I participated in my first three photography shows, two group shows with my class and one online.
More than anything, though, the best decision I made for my photography was starting a blog. In the past, I was reluctant to share my work. I didn’t want any of it out in the world for others to see until I felt completely ready.
Instead of allowing me to improve privately without judgement, hiding my work set me back. I was convinced I should keep my images private until I considered myself a fully fledged photographer.
But that’s just not how it works. I rarely shot anything except when it was required for class and I hated the results when I did. Working alone in secret gave me little motivation to make anything at all.
The piece of advice that changed my mindset came from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon. I read the book several times in years past but his words finally sunk in in 2016: “You can’t wait until you know who you are to get started.”
If I’d waited to know who I was or what I was about before I started “being creative,” well, I’d still be sitting around trying to figure myself out instead of making things. In my experience, it’s in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.
—Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist
I knew he was right. I couldn’t wait until I perfected my work to start interacting with others. I had to hone it by sharing. And so I launched this blog in September 2016.
Composing a blog post every week was a challenge, but now I’ve written over 20 posts and am glad I took time to make every one of them. I went through at least double the film I was before starting my blog, probably more. Plus, knowing the images would be public forced me to try even harder to produce my best work every time I went shooting.
Secondly, starting a blog allowed me to find a community of photographers online. Between this site and my Twitter account, I’ve learned acquired all kinds of useful advice. Any time I have a question, I now have a small army of film photographers I can call on for help.
Lastly, my blog offered me a space to share work in progress from where I am right now at this moment in photography, not where I will ultimately end up. Looking at my blog as a sketchbook rather than a perfectly curated gallery allows me to focus on what’s most important: to keep creating work. One day I might look back at the work I am making now and dislike it. But the fact remains that continuing to shoot is the only way to get where I am going.
Here are some of my favorite images I made in 2016: