I’ve been saying for a while that I want to get back into photography, improve my writing, learn this, do that, yada yada yada. It’s the same old song and dance. Those phrases are overused cliché’s by people who mean well, but really only seem to excel at not going anywhere. I’m one such person. Or at least I was. I’m (very slowly, it seems) proactively working to actually get back into photography and rekindle that flame that keeps sparking up. How am I going to do that, you ask? I haven’t the faintest idea… Okay, just kidding. I do have an idea, and here’s what I plan to do.

Identify the skill you want to improve

This one’s easy, or at least it should be. You need to figure out what it is you want to do. You don’t need to be ultra-specific (i.e., be the best close-up portrait photographer in the Midwest. Having a goal in mind is great, but I think it’s important to start a teensy bit more broad and narrow your scope (if you so chose) as you refine your skills.

Taking the first step

Let’s continue the photography example, as it’s both common and aligned with my own ambitions. Instead of picking something very niche, we’ll start with a more general idea: improving your photography skills. There are many ways to do this, but the single most important one, I think, is actually getting out there and shooting. You can only read so much about any topic – photography included – before you need to get out there and actually start doing.

I love to read and absorb information about something I’m excited about, but it’s only through actual application of that knowledge that you’ll really get the material and improve your skills. It’s one thing to read about how a particular two-light setup will look, but another thing entirely to get out there and actually see it on your model and observe how it changes with the slightest adjustments and variations. Basics come from reading; mastery comes from doing.

Making progress

Great, you’ve identified what you want to do. Not only that, you’ve gone out and started to do it! Good for you, but what happens next? So you’ve gotten out and shot a couple of portrait sessions, or you’ve written a few short stories, or tried a few new recipes. What happens now that you’ve gotten a, well, taste of things to come?

Is there something you particularly enjoyed during your creative sessions? Thinking about your next one, try to identify what would excite you the most: is it a pirate themed photo shoot with your closest friends; want to try your hand at an engagement shoot; or do you find more interest in expanding your one-on-one portrait skills? If there’s something a little more specific you’d like to experiment with, now’s the time to do it. Once you have your basic skills down, stepping into more specific areas of interest becomes a much smoother transition. Did you try something in particular? If so, how did you feel about it? If there’s something you liked, try to hone in on that and see where it takes you. If you didn’t like it, why not? Experiment with another technique or variation that you might enjoy more.

Putting it all together

Whew! You’re not just saying what you want to do; you’re actually out there doing it! Maybe you even found a specific path you wanted to follow. You’ve identified some things you like, and other things that didn’t pique your interest so much, and you can work on developing those skills further. Maybe you want to share what you’ve learned with others, or join a community of individuals with similar interests and expand your horizons. And it all started because you took those first steps towards doing something you love.

Now get out there and start doing.