Christmas is okay, I could honestly take it or leave it, but New Years - that is a holiday I can not live without. Twice a year - on New Years and on my birthday - I press the "refresh" button on life, I start over, look ahead and plan to make changes. Sure some years those New Years resolutions look more like wishful thinking than actual plans to make habit-altering reforms, but still - I love it.
For those of you who follow my blog I'm guessing you have a few New Years resolutions of your own and that they might have something to do with your photography. Of course I hope you'll plan to improve your photography by participating in one of my photography e-classes but I'm also guessing that your plans include upgrading your gear, to some extent or another. So I wanted to jot down a few thoughts I had while I was washing my hair and share them here with you.
Learn how to use the camera you have before you invest in a new camera
This, of course, is why I offer photography classes, because I am a firm believer that while your gear does effect your photography the biggest thing you can do to improve your photography is to learn how to use what you have. A few really basic principles and a slight shift in how you are looking at your photos can make a huge impact - with only the investment of a little bit of time and intention. I can tell you I've seen a lot of different photographers with a lot of different quality of gear and I believe it more now than ever: an amazing camera won't make you an amazing photographer.
Upgrade your lens before you upgrade your body
I learned this the hard way. When I upgraded from the Nikon D80 to the D700 I expected to see jaw-dropping improvement (after all I'd just spent a jaw-dropping amount of money on this camera!) and I have to say I didn't see it right away. I notice it now, especially if I go back to using my D80 for a little while, but I didn't at first. Then one of my friends upgraded her lens on her entry-level SLR and voila! the difference really was jaw-dropping, and for a fraction of the cost. If you want to see a big improvement in your photography and you already have an SLR then upgrade your lens. What lens do I recommend? Read that here.
Wait to upgrade your SLR body
I've read lately that there are major upgrades coming to the Pro SLR camera world. With a much-needed upgrade to the Canon 5D Mark II just around the corner as well as a stellar upgrade to the Nikon D700 coming sometime in the very near future my advice is to hold off on that body upgrade until the summer - when the release of the new cameras will (hopefully) drive down the price of the current cameras to a more affordable price range. So if you're thinking that this is your year to go pro - read this post and keep saving.
If you're going to buy a starter SLR - buy it now.
If this is the year you want to dive into SLR photography - now is the time to buy. I recommend Amazon.com as the best place to buy online. I literally spent weeks researching all of the online shops I could find thinking that maybe I'd buy 2nd hand and settled on Amazon.com with a very satisfactory experience. Their prices are practically unbeatable (I did a quick price match of a handful of sites just to make sure that what I was writing is still true and it is - they beat out their competitors by nearly $100) and the confidence I had buying from amazon.com is priceless. Want to know what camera I recommend? I wrote all about it here.
If you've just bought your first SLR learn how to use it.
Since my kids have all been home on winter break we've been doing a little bit of cleaning the house and I've found all kinds of scraps of paper in my kids rooms and notebooks upon notebooks of lists, mostly written by my oldest. She gets it from me, I guess. I like writing lists too. One of my favorite lists to keep is my list of favorite movies of the year. Later I'm going to let my girls share their lists of their favorite books that they've read this year.
We had our family "Christmas" this morning... I could not have asked for a better morning. The kids were all so thankful, cheerful and have been playing happily all morning long... and I could not be happier
this may very well be one of the last times I write on this blog... I'm hoping to have a new one ready to launch January first with a shiny new e-book to go along with your shiny new camera.
It's 2am and finally the last of the presents are wrapped and the pink, blue and green wrapped gifts are sitting by the fireplace. I look at that pile of presents and feel a little bit "what the heck is this all for anyway" I think about the money we spent. I wonder if any of it matters, it feels like this whole holiday is such an ordeal and I wonder if it would scar my children for life if we just skipped Christmas next year and volunteered at the soup kitchen instead. That is when I realize that my mental ramblings really have nothing to do with the underprivileged and everything to do with all the coffee I've been drinking tonight - which makes me prone to mood swings - and as I ride the wave of emotions tonight I have a micro revelation - I am depressed.
Yes, I can be depressed with a heart full of gratitude. Yes, I can be, if not especially, depressed after a wonderful day with my kids. I settled fights peacefully and calmly. I exercised a dump truck load of self-control. Well, at least until I opened a package of Oreos anyway. Today I danced with my daughter who is nearly as tall as I am and marveled at how quickly these years have flown by. It's been a great day and tomorrow should be even better, how can I feel this way? Why are my emotions careening off the cliff edge to this familiar Pied-Pipe'r tune? And like the gentle voice from my best friend the words form in my mind, reminding me that depression isn't just mental or emotional - it's physical. The needle for my gas tank is resting at empty and the little light has come on to remind me to stop at the gas station before I try to do anything else. I take a deep breath. I stop freaking out. I know I'm going to be okay. I remember that I'll feel a lot better in the morning - maybe not first thing in the morning, but well you know what I mean.
I just thought I'd share that in case that's you - feeling bad for how bad you feel. I know. I'm there with you honey.
Now I'm going to let myself be sad, admit that I am frazzled stressed tired and just plain sad and then I'm going to bed and I'm going to have a wonderful day tomorrow watching my kids enjoy their holiday. I can't wait to see their faces, I know it'll be beautiful, not perfect, but beautiful.
Today is my kid's last day of school for the year. I have mixed feelings about that. I am really looking forward to having them home with me but I'm also not looking forward to all of the stuff I have still left to do to get ready for Christmas which will be so much more difficult with them home.
Yesterday I spent all day on the couch like a lump. I felt like I had the flu - no fun. Today Katie-Abigail is taking my place on the couch with a fever and everything. I'm sorry that she is missing out on her pajama day at school - poor baby.
My to do list is sadly lacking in crossed-out items - still so much shopping, wrapping, and securing a babysitter for upcoming appointments and events. Laundry and recycling overflowing... my blog re-do is in mid-swing. I was hoping I would be done it by now. But it is what it is.
I finally figured out what I'm going to make for the hubs for Christmas this year. I'm not very crafty. One year I crocheted an afghan for him for Christmas and another year I had the kids write out one of his favorite quotes and we decorated one of those customizable travel mugs from starbucks but every other year my gifts have been pretty crappy - he is really hard to buy for and his birthday is right after the New Years so it takes a good bit of planning to do something special for him - and planning is one of my weaknesses.
I'm really missing my family right now. They only live three hours away - so at least we'll see them over the holidays and I am very thankful for that. I just wish we were close enough to spend more time with them and that it wasn't such an event to go visit them.
I wish I could just drop my kids off with my mom while I knock out that last-minute Christmas shopping or that my mother in-law could come spend the night when the hubs and I go out for his Christmas dinner. My mom is participating in my test-drive group for my upcoming photography class for online business-owners and bloggers - and I'd love to be able to do more with her in-person instead of over the phone and via email. I love where I live - but I don't love being so far away from our family.
Eli is nearly 5 months now... he's changing so much! Every day his motor skills are getting better and he gets more interested in the world around him. He discovered the dog the other day and seems very interested in her. Thankfully so far they've been really gentle towards each other. I haven't started him on a bottle or solids yet. But that day is coming! He is really interested in what we're eating and has tried to grab graham crackers and apple sauce packets from his brother and sisters.
Are you sick of Christmas advertisements yet? My inbox and twitter feed has been flooded with reminders about sales and special offers. I thought about blogging a few of those offers from my advertising affiliates but I didn't want to add to the clamor.
Next year I'm starting earlier. All of this waiting to the last minute junk is getting old. Next year I want to buy more from handmade artists and my friends on Etsy. Next year I want to barter more and buy less. Next year I want to make more of the gifts I give - start earlier and follow through on more of my good intentions. Next year I'm also going to start blogging about Christmas earlier. I had SO many ideas but most of them are stuck in my drafts folder.