This time last year, I wrote about my goals for 2013. So today I’m going to take a look back at them, and see how I think I did, during a very busy year. I think that setting goals last year really helped me think about the direction I want to go in, and kept my attention on the right kind of trips and days out as the year went on. So that will form the basis of my 2013 Round-Up.
I’m then going to set some goals for 2014, and look ahead to the subjects & locations I’m hoping to visit.
This is still something to work on, but I think I continued to improve in this regard this year. I’ve been trying to take fewer trips out, but get more from them. And in the same way, when I’m out I try to reduce the number of duplicates or near-duplicates I take. This reduces the time spent processing in Lightroom, and frees up time in the field, allowing me to pay more attention to my subject & surroundings.
This was something I was very keen to improve on this year. I spent hours reading about landscape photography, considering styles and themes that appeal to me, and working in the field to gain experience with the tools of the trade. Chief among those tools was a new 16-35mm lens, which is a great range for my preferred style, and offered levels of sharpness & image quality on a whole new level. Add to that, trips to Cornwall and Iceland, and I was able to capture some landscape photos to be very proud of. This shot to the left is now on a canvas in my living room :-)
As my best local speciality, it’s important to me that red deer make up a significant proportion of my photography. Alongside my “on-black” low-key nature photography, they’re what I’m best known for, and that’s something I want to continue. They’re a favourite subject of mine, and it’s good to see that this is reflected in the way people see me. This year, I saw my deer photos used by Woburn Abbey, and published in Amateur Photographer Magazine, and Wildlife Photographic Magazine.
I spent many many hours with the deer this autumn, and also in the January snow. It was hard going, and I probably didn’t get as many nice photos as I wanted. But I’ve also been very selective, in only adding the very best to my website portfolio. You can see more here on flickr. I managed to get sunset silhouettes, and deer-in-snowfall portraits this year, but I still have more ideas for 2014, and this is a subject I intend to return to again, looking for new pictures, and an improvement on existing ones.
During early to mid 2013, I really concentrated on my low key wildlife portraits. I posted quite a few to Flickr, and was blown away by the positive reaction I received. Being part of the community there really helps get feedback and critique, and helps me see which photos are best liked, and which need further work. It’s also helped people see me as more than just another nature photographer, and it’s been helpful in defining my style moving forward.
I also wrote a couple of blog posts about my approach to them, which have proved very popular, and helped to better explain my thoughts, and the processes required to take such photos.
Along with deer photography, this is the style I’m best known for, and along with landscape photography, it’s been my greatest success of 2013. I still have a long way to go, but I’m really happy with the ‘fine art’ nature photography that I produced this year. It’s also given me the confidence to shape my website subtly in that direction, and it’s the way I want to continue.
My targets for the coming year are based on both continuing with last year’s goals, and setting new ones for this year’s trips away.
As with last year, this is something I want to continue to build on. I love landscape photography, and it’s much harder than I first imagined. It’s more challenging in many ways than wildlife photography, which perversely plays a part in what attracts me to it. I love learning new skills, and I get the feeling that landscapes will always offer new challenges.
I’ll be visiting the Swiss Alps this summer, and that’ll be my main focus landscape-wise this year. I’ll be hoping for wildflower meadows and snow-capped peaks.
As I browse my wildlife portfolio, there’s a surprising lack of British wildlife amongst the menagerie of exotic species. I think this is for two reasons. One being that British wildlife is particularly skittish and shy. This means it’s not an easy or cheap subject to aim for. The other being that last year, I made the decision to steer around the subject to some extent, and concentrate on more creative endeavours. This year, I want to blend the two subjects, and spend more time with British species, but in pursuit of original and creative portraits rather than standard stock photos. Time will tell whether I manage this, as it’s a very ambitious goal. It may be more a case of having a go generally this year, and having my experiences form the basis of more specific plans for 2015.
At the moment, I have a few trips planned, with more to come. So far, I’m planning to get on the beach with grey seals over the winter, in the grass with hares in the spring, and on Skomer island with the puffins in the summer. This in particular will be a brand new experience for me, as I’ve never photographed puffins before, so I’m really looking forward to that.
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t consider myself well-known within the photography world. But for those who have heard of me, it’s my red deer and fine art nature photography that tends to stand out, and I’m very grateful for that. It’s important to me that I continue to build on this, and maintain a consistently high level of photography within these two disciplines.
These were my main two goals for last year, and they were successful enough that they have grown to be the main focus of my photography.
After enjoying Iceland so much, we’re also planning to get back to another Scandinavian country in Autumn 2014. Only this time, for wildlife. Nothing concrete yet, but I’m hopeful this will be a lot of fun, and provide some unique European wildlife encounters.
As ever, you can follow my photography this year on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Flickr, & 500px. If you’re on any of those sites, then drop by and say hello. If you have any suggestions for great ideas or locations I should visit, then get in touch.
Thanks to everyone who helped me in the last year. Those who came out on photo trips with me, helped with advice, and those who have taken the time to comment on my work and give me valuable feedback throughout the year. I’m looking forward to seeing all your photos this year too.
Happy new year to you, and best of luck for 2014 :-)
Post by George Wheelhouse, 2014.