As regular visitors to this site will know, I’ve been “on tour” in the UK for the past few weeks and will soon be returning to Spain to kick off 2024 properly.
So from the top…what worked in 2023, what didn’t, and new photography goals for 2024!
A Simple Stock-Take
At the beginning of every new year, I take stock of what has worked for me in the previous year and work out what I’m going to change in the new year. I find this simple exercise renews my focus and helps me to progress as a photographer. It also reminds me that the success or otherwise of a year isn’t just about the last month or so!
I relaunched my YouTube channel at the. end of November 2023 and that worked really well for me in December so I’m going to be very focused on growing the channel this year. I want to promote Spain as a photography destination and so there will be location based videos about shooting technique as well as the post-processing tutorials I focused on last year.
What differentiates me from the other dozen or so English photographers on YouTube? Location and Content. Spain is underrepresented on the photography map, and I want to change that. Not only are there locations to match any in Europe, but there are many excellent Spanish photographers who do not get as much recognition in the English-speaking world.
As for Content, my channel is exclusively focused on providing content of value for new and improving photographers. I’ve had a great time in photography and I want to help other photographers succeed by offering hard earned advice in an easily digestible format.
Trading up Kit
I swapped a lot of kit around last year, for the first time in ten years, trading up to my current wide angle and telephoto landscape lenses – 16-35mm, and 70-200mm. I also acquired a new Drone, the DJI Mavic 3 Classic and the latest DJI Action Camera as well as DJI Mic to enable the YouTube channel.
The lense upgrades were notable, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II is a vastly better lens than the 17-40mm and that 1mm difference at the wide end is actually noticeable when you;re shooting. Canon really pulled their finger out with the Canon EF 70-200mm f/4L IS II and the Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS II
I used MPB EU to swap my gear, they are very reliable, and make the entire process easy, sending a courier to pick up your gear and transferring money or despatching swaps very quickly after my gear had been received.
Note: I have to accept that the notion of not swapping kit around in the last ten years is delusional. I may not have bought lenses, but three cameras in five years is a considerable investment! See Gear Acquisition Syndrome.
I owe big thanks to Richard Hartley and Kiersten Hartley-Rowland from Spanish Highs for their enthusiasm, expertise and help in pursuing this niche.
I will be doing a lot more mountain photography in 2024. The investment in clothing and footwear has been significant, but the photographs I’ve made in the Sierra Nevada and Picos de Europa have been well worth it. I also bought a tent to enable me to roam further afield this year! I’ll add snow shoes and crampons this year!
My efforts were rewarded by being asked to curate a storyboard for the Flipboard newsletter which brought a lot of attention last November. You can see my storyboard here.
I know, I promised these last year, but a few things happened instead that blew me completely off course. The good news is the Introduction to Landscape Photography course has now been updated and will be available in the Spring in two flavours, one using DxO PhotoLab 7, the other using Adobe Lightroom. They will both be available at a discounted price of €35 to people that have signed up to my mailing list (below) or YouTube channel. €75 to non subscribers.
I’m excited about the courses, I feel I’ve been doing this thing (photography) for so long, both as aa commercial photographer and enthusiast that I must have learned something worth sharing! I have done extensive market research and competitor analysis and can honestly claim to be offering outstanding value. My courses are designed to support all learning styles, including both video and written material, 1-2-1 sessions, downloadable “cheat sheets” to take out on location and a programme of projects and exercises designed to explore all the facets of landscape photography you’ll need to get to your next level.
The “few things” that blew the online courses away last year, also prevented me from doing much in the way of workshops. That will change this year. I’m going to be offering photowalks combined with guidance, in the Lecrin Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. More details about these will be released at the end of January.
What Didn’t Work
I did very little black and white photography last year. Instead I challenged myself to improve my colour processing and I’m happy with the results so far.
This photograph of the old West Pier in Brighton would in previous years have been a monochrome image, but I think it looks better in colour even if it did take me two days to produce a version I was happy with!
I earned myself a shadowban on Instagram last year by inadvertently using a banned hashtag. Consequently views of my account have been restricted to existing followers which for an account that was started in 2020, left unattended in 2021 and restarted in 2023 is crippling! I’ve removed the offending hashtag, but I do wonder if Instagram is worth the bother. There are better looking platforms for photography out there such as Vero and Pixelfed.
I have been a very vocal critic of Twitter since Elon Musk took over, he is an avid promotor of odious right wing politicians and as a businessman turned a decent social network into a bin fire in record time. My problem is I have over 5000 followers there and it would take me another couple of years to build that level of following elsewhere. So far only YouTube shows any sign of emulating that kind of volume.
Facebook is for older folk like me nowadays and owner Mark Zuckerberg is on the same political spectrum as Elon Musk so far as I can tell. We’ll see how the year unfolds.
I dabbled with MidJourney and a few others last year and I liked the results, It’s not going to become part of my toolkit any time soon but Photoshop introduced some AI capability into its editing interface and although it’s early days, it seems very good. I don’t have any objection to AI, it will inevitably change the photography landscape but change is a good thing and it’s up to commercial photographers to adapt and survive.
I might be wrong about this but it seems to me that Adobe are approaching a crossroads. The direction they are pursuing in Photoshop will appeal to designers and digital artists for sure and the AI capability they have brought to the tooling in Lightroom appeals to Photographers, so it will be interesting to see how that story evolves in 2024.
Onwards and Upwards
I’d like to wish you all a happy new year and I hope you produce outstanding photography. If I can contribute to that in some small way that would be even better!