2017 Recap: Photos, Thoughts, Insights, and What Worked for Me
I always enjoy coming to the end of a year and looking back on what all I did during the previous 12 months. It’s kind of fun, and a great reminder about how fortunate I am to be able to go places, take photos, and share them with the world. But it’s also easy to forget all the things that I did, since 12 months is a long time and frankly, I am a bit forgetful at times. :-)
Nonetheless, I dug through my blog and Flickr archives to get a reminder of the places I went and the photos I took, and have stuck some of my favorites here for your enjoyment. I took thousands of photos in 2017 and have not had enough time to edit that many of them, so while these are some of my favorites, I have plenty more still to process and share, and many that I don't even remember taking at this moment that are (hopefully) good ones.
Here are some of my favorite photos taken in 2017. You can click any of them to enlarge.
After posting them and coming back to look at them, I have made a couple of observations about these photo choices that I find interesting:
- 8 of these are HDR photos (Anguilla, Tucumcari, Fussen, Hackberry, Cannon Beach, Prague 1 & 2, Rothenburg)
- 2 of these are long exposures done with my 10-stop filter (Moraine Lake and La Jolla)
- 2 of these are quick single exposures (Emerald Lake and Prague 3)
These observations lead me to some (fairly obvious) conclusions:
- I still love to process HDR photos and often find the results are quite pleasing to my eye
- I love to take really long exposures with my 10 stop filter
- I continue to be a "big color" guy at heart (though I have grown to love monochromes a lot over the years)
But for me year-end is a time to also take stock of what has worked and what hasn’t worked, and to “adjust the sails” so to speak. In this respect I am speaking about what has worked for me in terms of growing my photography business and my blog, etc. This is a business and of course I want to grow it, so learning from the past is a big deal to me. So here goes!
So here are some things that worked for me in 2017:
On the Blog: Top Photo Spots in London, NYC, and Austin (and several others); my Macphun Presets page, Luminar Tips page, HDR Tutorial, and then some reviews.
I have learned over the last couple of years that my blog is a great resource for a couple things: lists of where to shoot, and information about Macphun/Skylum products (training, presets, etc).
I get decent traffic on some of my reviews too, but otherwise it’s all about “where to shoot” and “how to edit”. My daily photo posts get limited traffic, frankly. My blog just isn’t about “look at this great shot I shared today” and it’s more about where to go and how to edit your photos. This has me thinking quite a bit about what I want to do going forward, and I will share those thoughts once they have crystallized a bit.
I get thousands of views each month to my Top Photo Spots lists, and frankly they don’t require any work since they are already built. Sure I can add to them if I revisit a place and get more ideas to share (and I do that sometimes) but otherwise they are somewhat static. But other than just bringing in traffic, do they do anything for me? I’m not sure, truthfully. Traffic numbers are not a goal in and of itself. Sure, people join my mailing list, but that isn’t huge and I am not very consistent with it anyway. So this is a place for improvement in how I manage my blog.
My Presets page and my other Macphun pages (Luminar Tips and HDR Tutorial) get decent traffic too, which is great because these pages actually get updates from time to time, and obviously if someone purchases my presets then I make a few bucks. I have more presets in development and will share those when they are ready. So these pages will continue to grow and evolve.
Generally speaking, this site is not about gear reviews, although I do have a few and some of them pick up some decent traffic. I may add to these over time, but I am not a gear reviewer kind of guy and this is not a big focus for me. I simply share these things when I have something I really like. So maybe I will add 1-2 this year, but likely no more than that.
This was a year of YouTube for me, probably more than anything else. I started the year at less than 1,000 subscribers and am sitting just over 5,500 subscribers now. This has been amazing and a LOT of fun for me. This is clearly working. :-)
I created over 75 videos last year, which was really fun but also somewhat taxing. I am not sure what my pace will be this year, but I have a lot planned so stay tuned. Even though thus far my videos are all about Luminar and Aurora HDR, I still have a lengthy list of things I want to share regarding these products, which could keep me busy for quite a while. I love the products and just enjoy doing this stuff. People have asked if I will include other products, too, so that is something I am considering, though I'm not sure which direction I would go with it since I really concentrate my editing in Luminar and Aurora HDR almost exclusively. I have to give that some thought.
I will definitely invest more into YouTube in 2018. I get more engagement here than anywhere else, and this drives interest in my presets etc. It’s a great platform for me, and I really enjoy it. More to come in 2018! Subscribe to my channel here.
As with previous years, I find that I really enjoy Instagram, but I rarely put much effort into it. It is a great platform and I will continue to share my photos there, but I am not sure what my pace will be. As you can see in my "Best Nine", I barely got to 100 photos shared on IG in 2017, which just isn’t that many. I don’t do a great job of engaging there, and I don’t market myself either. I feel like I need to be more consistent there (I have gone a couple of weeks at a time between posts, which doesn’t help grow a channel), but it never comes to the top of the list when I sit down to do something. It’s just not in my DNA yet. I need to work on it.
I have always sort of been arms-length with Facebook, but I have to say that the Macphun/Skylum Photography group has been a real bright spot for me in 2017. I share my videos there, and everyone is very supportive of my work which is hugely appreciated. I frequently get on FB and go straight to that group to check out pics. There are some amazing photos shared there and some great people as well. It makes it worth it to log into Facebook.
Obviously I processed a fair number of photos in 2017, but truthfully it’s a lot less than you would think. Between being gone for the month of April (Germany, Prague, etc), and then on the road for 8 weeks or so this summer, and then upon returning jumping straight into making Aurora HDR videos for the Macphun website - followed by a project to create videos for them for Luminar, too - I didn’t edit nearly the number of photos that I would normally edit (not to mention all the time I spent creating my own videos). I was just extremely busy with other things. That is not a complaint - I’m really grateful for the work, and love to do it - but it’s just a fact.
I have thousands of unedited images from this year as well as from my overseas trips in 2016 that I still want to edit and share. I put these onto Flickr as well as into my Portfolio at SmugMug, and I want to get more of my work out there. No one can find it if it sits on my hard drive, unedited. I just need to make this a priority. Plus it's just fun!
I made a little money this year with stock photo licensing, which is great. In some respects it’s money that comes in on auto-pilot, because once they are approved and uploaded by the agency, I don’t have to do anything. But truthfully it’s a lot of work to get photos ready, uploaded and then (hopefully) approved, and I haven’t added any in a long time.
The only real way to make any money with stock licensing is to have a huge volume of work available, which is not my situation at all. I have somewhere less than 100 photos out there, so I want to add to that in 2018. This area could use a lot of expansion and improvement in 2018. Again, I need to make this a priority, though I already have several priorities and you can only do so much. :-)
Summary and Parting Thoughts
So that’s about it for this bit of rambling and recap of this past year. I think 2017 was an exceptional year, and I was able to go to some amazing places and take photos that I really love. That’s always a win in my book. My business grew, I created a lot of things that I am proud of, and I had fun doing it. I consider that a successful year. I will look back on 2017 fondly.