December 30


6 Photography Revelations from 2013

By Dan

December 30, 2013

_DSC3351I can hardly believe that tomorrow is the last day of 2013. Although a lot happened this year, it seemed to go by rather quickly. In some ways, I’m glad for it to be over, because even through the successes, accomplishments and exciting benchmarks, which included National Geographic using my work for the first time, two new eBooks, Behind The Action, and ZEN PHOTOGRAPHER, which made’s Top 10 list for the year, and a super fun bike tour over the Alps, the year started off with me having to bid farewell to my longtime friend and office partner, Sampa the cat, who got sick with pancreatitis.

After that, I felt myself falling behind and then spending much of 2013 trying to catch up on what I’d let slide during that very difficult time. Also, despite my best intentions, I saw the inevitable increase in the kinds of bad work habits that we all seem to develop as the months march on.

Now, as I stand on the cusp of a brand new year, I have lots of idea and revelations that will hopefully let me improve my workflow efficiency and creativity through 2014. Don’t we all? We’ll see how well they stick, but for now, here’s what I came up with. Perhaps some of these will resonate with you as well.

1. It’s the Photography, Stupid.

As you’ve probably noticed, I spend a great deal of time writing about photography, photography gear, photography books, photography tips, photography trends and photography people. As rewarding as this is for me, and hopefully for you, I can’t forget that what ultimately matters is the photography itself. NO matter what you shoot or who you’re trying to impress, nothing replaces getting out there and shooting awesome new imagery. I say this every year, I just need to remember it sometimes, especially when I get bogged down with other stuff that not about making new photographs.

2. The Gear Doesn’t Matter.

I shot with lots of different cameras this past year, some of which I own and some of which I got as loaners for testing and review purposes. However, when I look through my Lightroom catalog, though, I don’t necessarily see products of all this different equipment, I just see images, some of which I can’t remember what camera were used to make them upon first glance.

2013 reiterated for me just how much creativity, technique and personal style comes through, regardless of what gear you have in your hands when the moment passes. Of course, certain bodies, lenses and flashes are better suited to specific applications, but once you get a feel for the capabilities and limitations of your equipment, you’ll be able to undo the binds and bring forth your vision in the way you see it. Bottom line, get a camera that you love to use, no matter what brand, model or make it is.

3. Don’t Take on Too Much. Or Learn to Be More Efficient.

Remember above when I said I fell behind this year? That was compounded by the fact that I had taken on a huge number of projects and assignments, some self-directed, some commissioned by clients. During some months, I felt myself getting a little too bogged down with all the stuff on my plate, which made everting suffer. Problem is that I LOVE what I do, and I have a hard time saying no to anything or turning down any of my own ideas. Sometimes, when things start piling up, I need to remember to give myself an out so that I can take a breather. Or else, I need to learn to be more efficient with my workflow. Don’t we all?

4. Shoot Personal Projects

This one can be loosely translated into Shoot What You Love. If you’re not completely passionate about your subject matter, you’ll struggle to create memorable images. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t experiment with other kinds of subjects; that’s what makes you better as a well rounded photographer, but make time to shoot the things that inspire you the most.

I did this a lot in 2013, probably to counter the negative effects of falling behind and losing my kitty early on in the year. For someone who shoots a lot of action and people, I spend a great deal of time last year by myself shooting landscapes and mountain aerials, and it felt good. Really good. It helped me get through the hard stuff.

5. Write Stuff Down.

I usually carry a little Moleskine journal with me, and when I don’t have that, I use Day One app on the iPhone to track ideas, write down things that I want to accomplish, flesh out creative ideas and record  ideas. I’ll write notes about how to approach a certain shoot, log how the shoot actually went – you know, detail all those little mistakes that you’d NEVER indicate to the client, and write down my personal and professional aspirations. I find that it helps keep me organized, it keeps those ideas from getting lost and it just helps keep me on track.

6. Make Time for Other Stuff.

This is a big one with me. I LOVE photography. I could do it all the time. Problem is that I love other stuff too. Playing guitar. Recording music. Cooking. Riding bikes. Drawing and sketching. Reading books. If all I did was photography, I’d miss out on all the other wonderful things that enrich my life in other ways.In 2013, there were big periods of time when I DIDN’T do the other stuff, and looking back, that was bad.

As much as I love working at my self-employed photography career and shooting for clients, I DON’T want to be so busy that I let the other stuff fall by the wayside. That’s bad. in 2014, I plan to make more time to do other stuff in my life, which may mean I don’t write quite as much on the blog or take on quite as many projects, but in the end, that will make me more well rounded person, which will in turn, make me a better photographer.


So, that’s my list, I hope that by this time next year, I will have remembered this stuff. Tell me, what are your photography revelations and goals for 2014?

Finally, I want to express my deepest gratitude to my readers for tuning in during the past year. Your interest and support not only makes it possible for me to keep bringing you these tips, insight and reviews, it makes me WANT to.

So, thank you and best wishes for a very happy new year. See you in 2014.



About the author

Hi, I'm Dan Bailey, a 25+ year pro outdoor and adventure photographer, and official FUJIFILM X-Photographer based in Anchorage, Alaska.

As a top rated blogger and author my goal is to help you become a better, more confident and competent photographer, so that you can have as much fun and creative enjoyment as I do.

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