My Goals for 2012 / by Neil Alexander

I've set photographic goals of one form or another for myself each January for several years now, though more often than not I've just kept these to myself and haven't really broadcast them. This time though I thought that if I shared them, not only would it give me a reference point to look back on, but the fact that I'd shared them with the whole world, would encourage me to try harder to actually try and hit as many of them as possible. Having thought about this for a few weeks now, I've completed my list and decided to bare my soul to the world. Here goes, in no particular order:

  • Attain further accreditations - On the back of my Qualification with Merit of the Guild of Professional Photographers, I aim to submit a body of work to the Royal Photographic Society for their Licentiateship accreditation, as well as achieve the Guild's Craftsman status. The RPS only hold a few Licentiateship assessment dates each year, and from the looks of their calendar, the earliest available date that I'm going to be able to fit into my calendar is June or July, which buys me a little time to think about what I'm going to submit. For the Guild's Craftsman status, submissions can be made any time. The Guild's website states that "The aim is to show complete proficiency in your craft, along with versatility, control of light, and variety of composition etc. The submitted assignments should show a good variety of style and skill sets in different environments.". Along with written briefs, letters of recommendation from past customers, PI & PL certificates, the qualification requires a number of images from at least 3 different assignments over the last 18 months which obviously have to stand out from the crowd. Co-ordinating all of this will be no small task, but one that I feel will be well worth the effort. To be honest, I've never really placed a great deal of merit in accreditations in the past, but having spent some time thinking about my "brand" over the last few months, I have changed my opinion and I now feel that in the grand scheme of things, that they can actually be rather beneficial.
  • Put on an exhibition - This isn't a new one, and I've been put off in the past by the cost. From what I can gleam, these days gallery shows tend not to make too much money, but are actually more about raising awareness. I do have a show of some of my Maltese photographs pencilled in with a new gallery in Gozo, but so far the logistics have been too protracted for my poor little brain to handle. The thought of making and shipping framed prints to Malta, co-ordinating hanging and then freeing up enough time to spend over there to do it justice is a little frightening, but I do have something up my sleeve a little closer to home that I want to commit to in the next few months.
  • Get a magazine cover - This would be a very nice goal to hit, but it's going to take quite a chunk of effort on my part to market myself more and establish more rewarding relationships, which brings me to my next point...
  • More networking - I'm not a networker. In fact I really struggle with it. But I know that I really need to push myself more, get out of my comfort zone and work harder at building more relationships offline and online and put more effort into building on the relationships that I already have. The long and the short of it is that I need to knock on more doors and make more telephone calls. It'll be tough. I have no illusions about that, and I know with every new lead there comes a very high chance that it'll be accompanied by a knock-back. But as the old adage goes, "If you don't ask, you won't get"
  • Plan more - I need to devote more time to managing my business and marketing it, which is inevitably going to leave less time for shooting. This is I will find frustrating as that's what I love doing and I feel that even though my photography has improved significantly over the last 12 months, one of the beauties of photography is that you never stop learning. It's my hunger to learn that keeps me going and wanting to try new techniques and explore new places. So in order to maximise the opportunities in the limited time available, I am going to have to put more effort into planning when and where I'm going to work and to create a shooting schedule for several months in advance, or even further if I can. As well as working on my landscape and travel catalogue, I also want to schedule in more portraiture. I love working with professional models and struggle with people less used to being in front of the camera. That's down to my inexperience of directing people and knowing which poses work and which don't. I really get a buzz out of shooting people and would really like to do more not only with models, but also with those less comfortable in front of the lens.
  • Publish a book - I've used several of the online self-publishing book services for assorted personal projects and family momentos in the past, but never really taken the time and effort to do it properly. I've found book layout is an art in it's own right, can swallow huge swathes of time and have a great deal of respect for publishers that do it well. It's not easy, but I'd really like to get a body of work in print. It'd be beneficial for me as an artist, and would also be a useful marketing tool.
  • Work on my travel writing - From the perspective of marketing my work, I'm fully aware that pictures work better when accompanied with text. Not just for SEO purposes, but also magazines and publishers are much more likely to accept comprehensive articles these days rather than images alone. Sure, if the images are strong enough to stand on their own, then they're likely to be accepted, but there's an even greater chance if I can accompany them with a travel or photography article or similar. I've looked around for online writing courses that fit my needs, but to be honest I've never found anything that suits. So I'll keep trying, working on it myself using the various sounding boards I have at my disposal and putting more out onto this blog.
  • Charity Work - I'm very disappoined that we had to cancel the Manchester Help-Portrait event last month, so I am determined to make up for this year by commencing the planning and organisation in plenty of time (it's already in my calendar), and I also plan to do some other fundraising using my photographic skills but more on that another time.
  • Finally, I need to get my sorry ass to the gym, eat better, drink less, spend more time with my family, and attend more football games. The long and the short of it is that in 2012 I shan't be sleeping.....

So that's me. All out in the open for 2012. Clearly I don't like to set the bar too high.... With a little application it's all within my reach and now that it's up here in black and white, I'm committed!

What are your targets and resolutions for this coming year? Feel free to share in the comments below.