2015: The Year In Review

The end of the year is a time of reflection. We remember what's happened in the last 12 months. We think about what's ahead in the new year. It's a good time to take a few minutes and review the photos you've taken throughout the year. If you're using an asset manager, and you are diligent in adding metadata to your photos (yeah... I'm a self-proclaimed metadata junkie), there is a wealth of information about your photography at your fingertips. 

The numbers themselves are fun, but also try to look beyond the sheer counts and into what those counts mean. Just like each photo tells a story, each metric tells a story, too. A few of the observations I've made about my photos for the year:

  • I added about 2700 photos to my library. It's about half as much as I added in 2014. Part of that is I became more selective in what photos I took. And part of that is I'm more discerning in my culling process. I know I took a lot more than 2700 exposures in 2015... but many of them didn't make it into my library.
  • Roughly 360 of the photos are what I classify as share-worthy. Skimming through the view of these photos, there were certainly seascapes and landscapes. I also noticed more close up details, particularly in architecture that popped up. This suggests to me an opportunity for shooting outside of my normal golden hour. Taking a photo walk through architecturally interesting areas of San Diego is something I should do in 2016.
  • A mere 19 of my photos from 2015 are portfolio-worthy. All but 5 are seascapes. I'm always drawn to the ocean, however in 2016 I should also look to the local deserts for different landscapes. 
  • An interesting subdivision of my portfolio-worthy photos were well distributed throughout the year. Only April was an off month. I had quite a number of good photos, but no great ones. Nevertheless, this means I'm out shooting often and producing consistent results. That's a trend I will try to maintain in 2016.
  • Another observation of my portfolio-worthy photos is they all have a similar style of processing. I did slight experimentation with a more pastel feel late in the year, but otherwise there's a common style to them. That could be both good and bad. On the positive side, I have a clear style and when I enter Lightroom or ON1, I know what I'm going to do. On the (potentially) negative side, I could enter a "processing rut" and lose creativity. As I type this, the thought occurs to me to use presets from other photographers as a starting point vs. my own. I might like what I see, I might not, but I do expect it will keep my creativity sparked.
  • I definitely shoot wide angle a lot more than zoomed in. A good 1/3 of my images were in the 16-24mm range. I suppose that's not a surprise being a landscape shooter, but it does mean an area I can grow is looking for more intimate landscapes by getting in tight.
  • Two interesting spikes on my focal length ranges are at 24mm and 70mm... which happens to be bookends of my 24-70mm lens. I shoot with this lens a lot because it's versatile. Maybe this is an indicator of laziness... I didn't want to switch to the 16-35mm and go wider, or to the 70-200mm and get in tighter. Investing in another Sony body might be the course to take here (I still use my Nikon as a backup body).

Also in 2015, my workflow radically changed. I switched camera systems and moved from Nikon to Sony. I have no regrets about the move to mirrorless. I switched asset managers. All of my photos are now in Lightroom and Aperture lies dormant on my hard drive. I have warmed up to Lightroom. There are a few things that I miss from Aperture and that irk me in Lightroom, but with each passing week my workflow gets smoother.

And on top of that I published 3 eBooks, produced my first video training course, created some preset and texture packs, authored a few magazine articles, wrote hundreds of blogs and posted lots of free training videos. A busy year indeed!

Photography is a never-ending journey. We are always learning. I encourage you to take a few moments and look at your photography across 2015. What lessons have you learned? What will you continue to do in 2016? What will you change?