The parties are over. The champagne bottle(s) empty. And the sound of fireworks has faded away. Yes, New Year’s has come and gone. But the dawn of 2018 means a fresh start—not only with personal resolutions, but with your underwater photography as well.
In the spirit of achieving greater things in the New Year, DPG has put together a list of resolutions that underwater photographers can undertake in 2018. As well, we asked our contributors and readers to share underwater imaging-related resolutions for the next 12 months. Whether it’s trying a new technique, traveling more (or less), or helping conservation efforts, there’s something we can all do to be better people and photographers in the coming year.
1. Study More, Spend Less
An artist is only as good as their tools, or so the saying goes. But the truth is that knowledge is much more valuable than that camera upgrade you’ve been eyeing. Now, more than ever, there are fantastic resources for learning about underwater photography without leaving home. DPG’s ever-expanding Techniques section covers the latest trends and niche styles. Or head over to our sister website, Wetpixel, to ask a question (or answer one) in the forums. Once you’ve built up your knowledge base and surpassed your camera’s abilities, then it’s time to splurge.
2. Stop Over-Editing
Post-processing is certainly another tool in the underwater photographer’s kit. But it’s important to think of image editing as a tool, and not a crutch. We’ve all been guilty of spending hours—even days—trying to salvage an image. Don’t be afraid to put pictures in the trash that require too much manipulation to create a pleasing result. Instead, analyze and aim to fix the mistakes you’ve made in the image: Backscatter, lens flare, cutting off the subject from the frame, unintended motion blur are all common examples.
3. Try Underwater Videography
We have reached a place where many cameras are equally powerful tools for still photography and videography. If you’re (still) a still photographer, consider spending a dive (or an entire trip) shooting video and improving your skills. It never hurts to have video skills in your back pocket—especially when many DSLR, compact, and mirrorless cameras can record 4K.
4. Donate Your Images to a Cause
Selling images is hard. Whether you want to sell prints or image rights to magazines, hawking your snaps is exhausting and has a relatively low success rate. But there are people who desperately want your images: conservation groups and non-profits. Donating your conservation images to these groups can make a world of a difference. There are also marine life identifying databases like Manta Matcher and Wildbook for Whale Sharks that depend upon the contributions of underwater shooters.
5. (Finally) Enter a Photo Competition
You can’t win the race unless you participate. Photo competitions can be rewarding financially and in terms of recognition of your hard work. So often we plan and plan to enter imaging contests only to let the deadline slip by. Remember: The more you enter, the more chances you have to win. On top of that, DPG has a guide to entering underwater photo competitions. You can start this resolution right now: The Underwater Competition Series is now open—with more than $100,000 in prizes up for grabs.
6. Take More Topside Images
Some say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. Even if you were to dive every day of the year, that means it could take 25-plus years to be a master underwater photographer. One of the best ways to improve your underwater imagery is to use a camera more above the waves. This can mean traveling on a nature or culture-centric photo trip without going underwater (shock!), or it can be as simple as always having your camera nearby on a day-to-day basis at home.
7. Backup Your Files
Don’t do this tomorrow—do it today. Everyone has a different workflow when it comes to their underwater photography (here’s how we do it at DPG), but the key to any workflow is redundancy. Only have your images in one place? Make sure to have identical copies on an external hard drive. Already have your images backed up in multiple physical places? Consider uploading your photos to a cloud storage account such as Dropbox or Adobe Creative Cloud. We don’t want 2018 to be the year of lost image files.
8. Make Your Own Underwater Photo Accessory
Experimentation is part of the reason underwater photography never gets old—in addition, of course, to all the amazing things to photograph under the waves. A lot of experimentation requires additional accessories, such as filters, snoots, and lanyard handles. But all of these things (and many more) can be made at home—DIY style. It saves money and just might inspire you to take photos in an entirely new way.
9. Plan Ahead (to 2019)
Travel is expensive and time-consuming, but much of this cost can be saved by planning ahead. It’s never too early plan travel for late 2018 and even 2019. There are great underwater photo workshops to quickly improve your skills and compete against other shooters. And some of the most remote destinations can take years of planning. Our Travel section is a great place to get started.
10. Inspire a Friend
Finally, every underwater photographer should inspire at least one friend to try underwater photography for the first time. Whether it’s getting a landlubber to take a GoPro when snorkeling or a lifelong diver to bring a camera underwater, the ocean can always use more photo ambassadors.
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