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.