Wedding season starts NEXT month! And I decided I would blog about a little something I do each year before wedding season. Goal setting. A huge part of continuing to grow my craft is in the goals I set myself each year. These particular goals aren't monetary or about turnaround, they're simply artistic or technical camera skills. A couple of years ago my goals included things like finding ways to capture genuine laughter & using any natural light situation to my advantage. Although I wouldn't say I've necessarily "mastered" any of my skills (I think every aspect is a constant work in progress to always be a better version of yourself) I do feel that with each season some aspects become easier, or engrained, and so I can work towards new skills.
Last season I tried to push myself in creating beautiful detail shots that were more than just a pretty shot of the shoes, or the invitation, or the rings, but rather styled and thoughtful compositions bringing elements together to tell the story of wedding day details.
Another goal last year was to try shooting through foreground elements to create interesting compositions whenever the opportunity arose. This image below is actually Matt's photograph (he seems to have ended up doing better at finding cool foreground bokeh than me!) but it demonstrates how effective this sort of composition can be to add a feeling of depth, or 'looking in', to an image.
Another goal I set myself was to capture better dance photos that showed movement (for those camera enthusiasts out there it meant me learning to play with the rear curtain sync setting on my external flash).
Giving myself a handful of goals to try and achieve each wedding day helps me grow as a photographer and think beyond the required 'staple' shots, or to find a new way of creating those 'staple' shots. And I think that's really important for a photographer, so that you don't get trapped in stagnation or finding yourself bored which would be a disservice to your clients.
I'm very excited for the coming wedding season and the following are a couple goals I've set for myself this year...
S H O W C A S E T H E B R I D E
When I look at my portfolio of wedding work I see a lot of bride & groom portraits; their connection, emotions and joy. Capturing a wedding day is about story-telling and a HUGE part of that story is obviously the bride & groom, they're the stars of the day! But this season I want to consciously up my game with my portraits of the bride. After all, a huge part of the wedding day story is how breath-takingly beautiful the bride is. And I want to be better at showcasing that, giving my brides more beautiful images of them looking and feeling amazing on their wedding day.
O F F - C A M E R A F L A S H
I've been using off-camera flash comfortably for a couple of years now, but there is still SO much about external flashes that I have yet to unleash. I can confidently use natural light and use it to my advantage but when it comes to artificial light, such as using off-camera flash setups, I am not so confident. I have my methods that work but I'm sure I can improve on these and learn more to become more confident with this area of my gear. That's the goal for this season.
M O R E B I G P I C T U R E S H O T S
Matt and I have set this goal together; capturing more of the big picture, wide story-telling shots. Both of us can get very focused on really trying to curate a scene to look it's prettiest, cleanest, most connected and we forget to take that wide, full room, full scene shot that captures everything and everyone in that moment. For example I'll often work to find an angle in the getting ready room that uses the light best and that crops out distracting background elements, and while this is a HUGE part of my job and style, I want to remind myself this year to grab the bigger pulled back shots too which can give an organic view of what's happening in the room & when paired with those carefully curated shots really helps tell the story of the day.
Whether you're a photographer or not - do you set yourself goals for different aspects of your job? Do you find goal setting helpful? And what do you do to help ensure you work towards your goals & not end up forgetting about them?