My Photographic New Year’s Resolution – What’s Yours?

My Photographic New Year’s Resolution – What’s Yours?

2800 1575 James Tocchio

Today I woke up being kicked in the head. I did not get drunk last night on New Year’s Eve, and the foot that woke me with a kick is not a colorfully worded metaphor for a hangover. It was a literal foot, six or seven inches long, attached to my three-year-old daughter, and it kicked me in the ear. January 1st (and the year 2019 thus far) is therefore no different from any of the many days of 2018.

But that kick, common as it was, did jolt me into wondering what changes I could implement in the new year to improve my quality of life and, in part, perhaps eliminate kicks to the head. The obvious first pass; I could build a cage and make my daughter sleep in it every night. If too cruel, I could buy a Swedish sensory deprivation chamber and lock myself into it every night. That may be the ticket. I could sleep in the basement, or outside in a tree.

One hour and two big cups of espresso after these thoughts had spun through my mind, I’d come to a more realistic resolution – I’d improve my quality of life by improving my photography. (There, see? I knew this photography blog article would get on track sometime.)

This isn’t a new thought. I’ve known of the imbalance between my business and my photography for years. I wrote an article about it back in, let’s see, January of 2015. Wow. Take your own advice, James.

The problem is (and some of you readers will relate to this even if the specific things pulling us in different directions aren’t exactly identical), I spend a lot of time writing about cameras and selling cameras, while I spend far less time actually making photos. When I shoot it’s usually because I’m writing a review, and I spend my time maneuvering the lens or camera into situations for which it was and was not built. This is a great and practical way to test cameras and create editorial content. It’s a bad way to enjoy and improve at photography. Over the past few years, my eye for the craft has suffered. I feel like I’m stuck.

My New Year’s Resolution for 2019 is to get good. Good at setting aside time to pursue more creative photography. Good at evaluating my own photography and editing out the garbage (which most of it… is). Good at considering other photographers’ works and what makes that work unique, special, and compelling.

I want to get good at composition, framing, light management, seeing in black-and-white, manipulating color for effect, and good at street photography. Good at the rule of thirds and good at breaking the rule of thirds. Good at waking up for golden hour. Good at holding still to eliminate mirror shake, and good at embracing mirror shake when the shot calls for a sense of motion.

New Year’s Resolutions fail for a lot of reasons, but chiefly they fail because they’re too broadly worded. It’s not enough to say “I want to get good at photography in 2019.” There needs to be an actionable plan.

To this end, I sat down this morning and bought ten photography books, and a hundred rolls of black-and-white film. I’ll spend as long as it takes going through these books, studying good photographers and what makes their photos good. And I’ll shoot at least one roll of 36 exposure black-and-white film per week, on one camera (the SP in the header image), for the entire year. Landscapes, architectural shooting, street photography – we’ll see what works.

The reason I think this will work is that when I’m shooting that camera this year, I won’t be thinking about talking points or whether or not the camera is good, or trying to come up with funny metaphors and insightful observations for my readers. I’ll just be shooting, and trying to actually make a decent photo. What a concept.

More than anything, I want to get good at storytelling through images. I’m not sure how to do that yet, but I’ll try in 2019. Wish me luck, and happy New Year to you all.

I want to hear your New Year’s Photographic Resolutions, and more importantly, I want to know how you plan to achieve them. Tell me what you’re going for in 2019 in the comments below. 

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio
55 comments
  • Likewise, my resolution is to shoot 100 rolls of film this year! Funnily enough, I find a very direct link between amount of time taking photos and quality of my photography, having a target I hope will push me to get out and shoot all year. Fingers crossed!

    • Which film will you choose? Just one type, or a variety? I went with Kodak P3200 because I want something predictable and versatile, and I want to choose one stock for this project so that I can really focus. Happy New Year!

      • Will shoot a range but will be more or less 75% Portra, 25% tri-x and a few other rolls here or there. Never shot p3200, assume it pulls well?

    • That’s a great resolution! My objective for 2018 was to reach 100 rolls and I ended up shooting 140 (developed 128 already). I also completely agree with you, the more you shoot the better the pictures come out. I hope all goes well and that you enjoy shooting all those rolls!

      • 140 rolls is a good effort! I was considering leaving all 100 rolls to the end of the year and developing all at once but decided against it in the end. Likewise, happy shooting!

  • I don’t really do New Years’ resolutions but I am going to do a couple of things this year that will, I expect, make my photography better.
    The first is a continuation of what I have been doing for ’18: Shoot more large format film. This will almost certainly mean shooting less film but I want to end ’19 with better (and more) prints on a wall. In 2018, I found myself making many fewer 35mm photos and, surprisingly, not really minding that too much. In years past, I basically always had some 35mm camera with me. In mid 2017, I bought a 4×5 camera and the associated “stuff” to process at home. This lead me to start taking the camera in my phone more seriously. That has led me to now where I will still take a photo if I see it but also to be quite a lot more intentional about my photos when I am carrying an actual camera. It has also led to me setting aside some time specifically for photography and thinking more about what and why I want to photography.
    This more intentional approach means, for me, that I’ve shot far fewer negatives but those are, overall, better.

    The second thing is more concrete: I have a room in the basement of my home that was, I think, intended to be a root cellar. (Barely possible that it was originally a coal bin, but no too likely given that my home was built in 1928) It is just a bit over 7’x12′ and barely tall enough for a basic 4×5 enlarger.
    So, I am going to build a darkroom in that space. I can add/alter the necessary wiring for safe and plentiful ventilation, electric outlets, and lights: I have started constructing the countertops and storage areas; lightproofing is pretty much done; and I will need to hire a plumber to sort out water and drains.

    35mm and 120 (and 110, and minox. ) has mostly been a hybrid approach for me, shoot then mail order develop and scan. Then digital prints. That has, mostly, worked very well for me. With large format I decided to develop my self and quickly learned how little I liked scanning. So, I intend that this year will be when I return to what I learned 40+ years ago and shoot, process, print, and frame “in house”.

    ’19 ought to be a good year!

  • My aim is to be more organised. I have folders with disks and negs in no order, just on the table in the spare room. Second….. To shoot more black and white, which is what I love. 36 every 2 weeks of HP5.

  • Wish you all the best James for this new year, and your resolution of shooting every week for the whole year with the Nikon SP is really interesting. Hope you’ll share -next year at the same moment – the result of this great resolution (or project?).
    In my case, I’ll continue to travel and to take photographs during these trips, as these 2 activities go together for me and represent a sense of freedom and discovery I appreciate so much. Though, I must take more real portraits from people I meet, put my natural shyness behind me and go further in the art of portraiture.
    Other aspect, I already started at the end of this year – but still needs a lot of improvements – is to have the hand on the whole process of analogue photography, that is the home processing of C41 and E6 (and not only b&w), but also pursuing my learning of the darkroom techniques I discovered recently.

  • Will shoot a range but will be more or less 75% Portra, 25% tri-x and a few other rolls here or there. Never shot p3200, assume it pulls well?

    • Ian aka exposure_therapy January 1, 2019 at 6:20 pm

      Huh. I’ve never even thought of pulling a P3200 film. Also I refuse to buy the Kodak TMAX over Ilford Delta 3200, mostly because I really can’t tell the difference and Ilford never abandoned us in the first place!

      • This was meant to be a reply to James’ reply to my comment higher up. He mentioned he was only shooting P3200 for the year (which I think is an ISO 800 film). Obviously it pushes well as that’s what it was designed for, my question was whether it pulls well (given light might be too bright for 800 speed film at certain times of the year)

  • Happy new year! My aim for 2019 is to shoot as much as possible with my Fuji GSW690 III using Kodak TriX film. How i plan this? I only put this camera in my backpack 😉 (although my Nikon F with the old 50 1,4 Nikkor is tempting..)

  • I want to build a darkroom, again.

    • It seems like lots of people are diving into darkroom work for the first time or getting reestablished in the darkroom after a break. Good luck with it!

  • Happy New Year! It sounds like a great plan! I’m doing something similar. Going to be focusing mostly on my black and white photography this year, improving my eye and my technical skills.

  • Chantal Williams January 1, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    I have my darkroom built and I want to use up all the film in my basement fridge. It is now full. I want to empty it this year.

  • James. These are good goals and apply to many of us. The time to start is today, not tomorrow or next week. You do not need to make images now. Choose a subject, making it as specific as possible. You could make images of your child in a variety of settings/angles etc. Constraints are liberating.
    “Creativity is always enhanced by constraint.”
    To that end, consider selecting one camera, one prime lens, one film (pushing/pulling if necessary),being in the moment when making the image and detached when evaluating it (letting them marinate).
    While this is one approach, there are others that would be just as restrictive and liberating.
    And do it to please yourself. Consider keeping the images private and not posting on the web. It’;s not for them. It’s for you.
    Good luck.
    Thanks for the article, as usual.

  • Ian aka exposure_therapy January 1, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    My goal is super similar, actually. The way I worded it (and I have a paper trail that will prove I had this idea before reading this!) Is that I want to simplify my photographic life.

    I’ll be shooting two emulsions: Kodak Ultramax 400, and Fomapan Action 400 (I’ve got 60 metres in the way!) on one camera (my Olympus OM-4-Ti). This way I can eliminate many of the variables that come with shooting different emulsions and cameras, with the goal of knowing what my shot is going to look like before seeing the end result. I’ve also got a couple of books I’ve been looking through to learn and become inspired.

    At least that’s for my “serious” photography. I have way too much fun shooting expired film on weird cameras to give that up entirely. But even with that, I want to a clear idea of what my experiment actually – is – before I load the camera.

  • Happy New Year James! Hope to get further back into film photography. Shoot more. Shoot with a purpose. Learn to develop B&W film at home.

  • Well, last year I made a New Years resolution to shoot one film photo a day this year. I did pretty well for the first 5 months – not 100%, but not bad. Then I realized I was tired of shooting the same things around my workplace and my neighborhood, which was what I had time to photograph most days of the week. So, I decided to stop wasting film and think about a better way to accomplish the same thing.

    This year, my resolution is to shoot at least 1 roll of film each month, and preferably 1 roll of color and 1 roll of black & white. I’ve got a variety of color and black & white to choose from. I’ve got a number of cameras that need to be used. We’ll see how it goes 😁
    And I just developed my first roll of black & white for added fun 😄😄

  • Right on! My 2019 photographic resolutions:

    1 ) Shoot more.

    2) Finish the darkroom and use it.

  • Christopher Hobel (Hobes) January 1, 2019 at 10:24 pm

    For 2019 I upgraded to film over digital. I invested in good tools in 2018, a Mamiya C33 and a Minolta XE7 a Rollei35 and a bogen/Manfrotto 3021.

    1. shoot atleast 1 roll per month- and really think about what I’m trying to convey and find my own eye

    2. Cut my developing expenses- Learn how to develop BW Film

    3. Actually open and use the scanner I bought w last years xmas gift monies

    4. Get published

  • I dont think pushing yourself to shoot more film will help you a lot. instead push yourself to spend 3-4 hours a week outside and have a camera with you, photos will either happen or not but usually 3 hours is a good amount of time to finish a roll of film for me in the summer.

  • Judging by all the comments here, seems that great minds think alike. My goal is to learn to shoot film (b&w, I think I’ll mostly be working with Ilford Delta and Kodak Tmax400), and eventually start processing it at home. Hopefully, by the end of the year, I can make analogue prints in my own darkroom I plan on building.

  • Thanks for this enjoyable article! I remember clearly something similar last year as well and i stated my resolutions too.

    I managed to fulfill both of my resolutions for 2018 – to stick to one wide-ish lens (nikkor 35mm f2 ai + voightlander 40mm f2 ai-s for 80% of my slr shots), and to develop film at home (so far 60+ rolls b&w only). And i’ve started bulk loading in 2018 as well (so far 1 roll each of HP5+ and Delta 400). Not bad i think.

    For this year i have 2 as well.. to start printing some of the images i’ve shot (not in a darkroom, just digital archive printing), and release a zine.. or even a photo book. I’ve just unboxed an Epson V600 scanner and made a online purchase for Silverfast 8, i might just get there. Let’s see..

    I’ve always enjoy the articles from you guys and gals! Thanks CP!

    • That’s true. Last year we made some suggestions for resolutions here – https://www.casualphotophile.com/2017/12/27/five-new-years-resolutions-for-the-photographer/

      Sounds like you’ve got goals for 2019! Good luck reaching them, my friend.

      • Hi James, thanks for the well wishes, i really need it!

        I was so obsessed to get the best from my own scans that i bought ANR glass inserts for my film holder before even buying a scanner! Hopefully i can get really acceptable quality scans, so i can publish my work properly and save cost in the long run by scanning on my own. I’ll definitely find out over the weekend.

        And.. i just got back from sending and collecting digital prints of my images from a photo shop! The prints are not the best, but looks great! I’m giving away a few to friends tomorrow, and my wife and daughter took 2 prints each to keep. Feels nice..

  • Great article James, and this is something I am very much struggling with. As much as I love all of the different cameras I get to play with for the site, it is having a negative effect on my “photographic happiness”. Even though I am my own boss, I feel pressured to get the next review out and Im finding I am not enjoying them as much as I used to.

    Sounds like neither of us have the answers yet, but we can both try and get there! Here’s to a great 2019! 🙂

  • 35mm Film Shootist January 2, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Like everyone else, get out more and shoot more, hopefully using Tri-X as my main film stock… day job permitting.

  • Don’t forget to take lots of shots of your kids. They are only little for a short while. I miss those kicks in the head.

  • My darkroom is currently being remodeled. I needed a bigger, better sink, which led to upgraded electrical, then better insulation, a more efficient layout, more ___ , better ___. In the meantime, I am darkroomless. How do people live like this? My resolution is to get back in there and make the perfect print.

  • Robert M Gambill January 2, 2019 at 3:37 pm

    My resolution has been a but simpler. With 2918 being the year that I really started to get back into photography full force after a long break, I wan’t to challenge myself to shoot at least one frame per day. Doesn’t matter which camera, or whether it’s film or digital, just make sure that I manage at least one frame per day for all of 2019. I think next year, I’m going to dedicate one of my cameras with a date function to this task so that I have a full sequence of the entire year.

  • Simple – one photo, every day. It can be a sweeping panorama, or a closeup selfie of my nostrils, doesn’t matter, as long as I take a photo. I’ve really let my photography slip over the last few months, and I really want to get back into it. Besides, I’ve got a couple bricks of Provia burning a hole in my freezer.

  • I have found your site over my Christmas/New Years break and have really enjoyed reading your many reviews and articles. Thank you for all the information and opinion you have shared here.

    I shoot Pentax digital and have a good selection of K mount lens that can also be used on Pentax film cameras.

    In 2017 I brought a Pentax LX and Pentax 67 with the intention of shooting about a roll of film a month, getting back into film shooting, and experimenting with medium format film. 2017 and 2018 turned out to be years where this intention was not realised, although I achieved a lot of travel related digital photography during 2018.

    My goal for 2019 is simply to shoot more film, and aim for about one roll of film per month.

    This site is helping with the inspiration for this 2019 goal. Thank you.

  • This is not only a great read … it’s therapeutic!

    Been feeling a bit flat recently and until now haven’t considered photography goals and/or objectives … So this year:

    1. Shoot only film this year using one camera, one lens (except for “professional” work)
    2. Develop all my black and white work myself
    3. Put out my first Zine in second half of the year
    4. Develop 6 professional real estate photo shoot opportunities
    5. Get another show

  • My photographic resolution is to repair some cameras before buying new ones. I’ve got a couple of Spotmatics, Nikon F and FM, Olympus OM1n and a few Minolta’s that need a good CLA to get back in the game. It’s usually cheaper to buy another camera than to have them worked on, but now my thinking is that having them repaired will insure they last a good long time and allow me to use them, or sell them, with confidence.

  • Last year was the year I got back into film. I shot well over 100 rolls from March to December and its been very fun. I’ve also tried way too many systems–K, F, M42, P67, ETR, plus a bunch of fixed lens cameras. I got my darkroom setup done by November and had a great time figuring out how to do it, but I haven’t actually printed all that much. But at this point I have almost all I need, so I have three plans:

    1. Stop buying stuff I don’t need. (that doesn’t mean stop buying stuff.) I want to focus on one 35mm system (probably Pentax K) and one medium format system (probably Bronica ETR.) build it out with the lenses and accessories I need/want, and stop lusting over systems I don’t own (Leica, Hasselblad, etc.) This isn’t necessarily spending less, but rather spending deeper. Also, save my money for the useful, but less glamorous stuff like filters and enlarger lenses.

    2. More darkroom. I really need to get to the point that every weekend I spend a couple hours in the darkroom making at least one 8×10 or larger, rather than putting the darkroom off for a month. This is hard because all things considered, I’d rather spend time outside. The capture half of photography is more fun because, for me, it is outdoors–like a stroll in the park interrupted by an occasional photo.

    3. More planed photography. I have a beautiful historic neighborhood, that is great for photography. I take short walks all the time and photograph the things around me. But I have a lot of photographs that are random and local. Last year I took a few short/long trips where photography was a big part of the trip, but I need to plan to do a lot more of that. In a way, I need to spend more time thinking about my photography, and going somewhere a day’s drive away, just to shoot, can help with that.

    My bonus plan, which given the contents of my freezer probably won’t happen, is to narrow my film selection to really learn the films that have delivered the best for me: Ektar and PanF+ (I like slow films, especially on a camera with 1/500 top speed like my Bronica.)

  • That Nikon is a thing of beauty, I know nothing about that model (yet) but I already know I could spend a year with it!

  • Happy new year!

    I am just in the process of building my own darkroom in the basement including proper plumbing and sufficient space. After 15 years of film photography, this was more than overdue so this year I will focus on my darkroom skills.
    Secondly, shooting more medium format film in 6×6 for the sake of the format which pushes me to think different when composing the frame.

  • This year I’m trying to focus less on technical perfection and more about the moments and stories within an image. With digital I always found myself aiming for how “perfect” I could execute a photo in a particular environment. Switching to mainly film last year has helped me to focus more on my subject and less on my camera. (If that makes sense?)
    I’ve created two photo projects that I’m pursuing this year. I’ve sold my house and moved into a truck camper to travel across Canada while working on these projects .
    Happy New Year!

  • Honestly, my new year’s resolution is just to stay interested in photography. I have a habit of picking up hobbies for about 3 months or so, and then leaving them as rather regrettable time and money sinks. I think photography will be more lasting despite this, due to the low skill floor, and the ability to see both the fruits of my labor, and my improvement as a photographer. If anyone is in a similar predicament, advice would be nice!

    • I often say my ADHD manifests itself in my hobbies. I’ve managed to keep a few, but it requires dedication and challenge within the hobby or I get bored and move on.

  • I’m going to try shooting just one camera each month. Going well so far! I’m impressed at you pledging to shoot just one camera all year James but how will you be able to review any other cameras for Casual Photophile? Or will you leave that to your other contributors?

    • My plan is to set aside at least one day per week in which I shoot just the SP and Kodak P3200. But yes, I’ll be continuing the standard work of the site here, shooting cameras and lenses and reviewing them. It’s just that in the past I’ve done only this, never taking time to just work on my photography. Does that make sense?

      • Yeh, it makes sense, absolutely. I’ve kind of been there, ending up being a perennial camera tester rather than a photographer.

        I thought you were going a whole year just shooting one camera. Another blogger we know did this (Jim Grey) with a Nikon (I think an F2) and he said his photography came on leaps and bounds because of that focus.

  • It will be a delight to follow your project, James : ) I think reviews are quite attractive because they tell us about the limitations and advantages of the tools we use. Instead storytelling with photography is about exceeding our own limitations each time. Aristotle wrote that the Olympic games don’t award prizes to the strongest and fastest men but instead the ones that enter the lists to compete, so any intention requires action. This decision you have taken is not going to make you a Cartier Bresson but each day indeed a better James Tocchio (btw I always remember a photo in blue tones of a camera over a rusty ring of metal, is quite memorable as the contrast between such bare and strong surfaces with the delicate precision of the camera was striking : ) )

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James Tocchio

James Tocchio is a writer and photographer, and the founder of Casual Photophile. He’s spent years researching, collecting, and shooting classic and collectible cameras. In addition to his work here, he’s also the founder of the online camera shop Fstopcameras.com.

All stories by:James Tocchio