Business New Year’s resolutions

My goals and aspirations for 2018

 Why make new year’s resolutions?

When a new year rolls around you’d need to shove your head in the sand for at least the first month of January to avoid the ‘new year new you’ marketing campaigns which may make you feel inadequate about yourself. This year I felt particularly overwhelmed that there was a massive emphasis on business and marketing planners. I’d bought myself a copy of Janet Murray’s 2018 media diary.

Initially, I was excited about planning out my 2018 year and I even made the time to watch Janet’s webinar on using it, but when it came down to it it just became an overwhelming and scary task. I then shoved it into the back of my mind. With the support of my wonderful community, I realised it wasn’t mandatory to actually complete the whole thing. I was satisfied that I’d got the dates in 2018 I wanted to put in, ideas about January I wanted to work on and a rough outline for the next three months.

A image of a photography studio with a large wooden desk with a laptop and paper on top - illistrating taking the time to plan business activities.

A very organised desk with Janet Murray’s 2018 Media Diary ready to be filled in.

Where does the idea of new year’s resolutions come from?

I was surprised to learn that as far back as 4,000 years ago during the Babylonian period who celebrated new year festivities. A festival called ‘Akitu’ which lasted for 12 days to celebrate the renewal of life. People who wished to please their gods and gain brownie points promised them that they would settle their unpaid debts and return borrowed items. Fast forward to today we’re used to hearing about dry January and a spike in a gym membership. But for me, it’s a good chance to reflect and think about my goals and aspirations for my business in 2018.

I’m going to section these into self-development and business development, and from there tell you what and how I’m going to implement these goals in 2018. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you to do the same and have something to reflect on throughout the year.

Self-development goals

What’s my goal?

  • Develop my portrait photography knowledge.

It’s been six years since I graduated from my Ba Hons photography degree, and I’ve been in business for just over a year. Since graduating I’ve kept on top of the current trends in portraiture by following exhibitions from the National Portrait Gallery and the Association of Photographers. I have to admit that last year I was more concerned with getting all the business side set up and relying on my skill and knowledge to create outstanding portraits for my clients but I know this isn’t enough.

Continually learning, making mistakes and developing your creativity is such important part of life. If you’re not willing to develop your skill why bother to do it in the first place. At the beginning of 2017, I joined the Societies Of Photographers which is an international photography society. I felt that to add some professionalism it would be a good idea to join a professional body. The major bonus in joining the societies is that they have an annual convention in January.

How am I going to do this?

I’m so excited to be attending the Societies of Photographers convention, I’ve actually never been to something like this so it’s important I got my butt in gear and get myself down there. I’m planning to attend 10 masterclasses, the opening night party, the business school and the trade show. This is going to really inspire me to be able to talk to the professionals who have been doing this for a long time. Here’s my timetable for the four days:

A table of photography events happening at a convention

I might be a little bit exhausted after 10 events in four days!









I’m hoping to really gain some new ideas for posing people in the studio, get some new ideas on creative lighting and also meet some new friends. I have to admit I am a bit nervous going by myself but I’ve been chatting to other members in the societies Facebook group and it looks like I’m not the only one in the same boat.

I’m also really excited to get some new ideas for content so I’ll be doing a write up on all the new knowledge I learn when I get back!

What do you want to learn more about getting your professional portraits done?

What’s my goal?

  • Develop my photoshop and editing skills.

Throughout my career, I’ve always believed that as little editing needed on images was the best choice. I do still feel this way but 2017 has taught me that I can add value to my clients by having the skills to do basic cosmetic editing, cutting out backgrounds and removing unwanted bra straps.  Something which has stopped me wanting to learn is that when it comes to editing I have a short attention span and get frustrated with repetitive tasks.

For my work, I use Lightroom as my image processing program, and I’ve recently started using Photoshop a lot more. I was recommended to check out Perfectly Clear which I have used, but my main worry is that I don’t know if it looks natural or over processed. Eventually, I’d like to be able to outsource my editing work to someone else so I’m really able to focus my time and energy on my clients.

How am I going to do this?

I’m going to dedicate a few hours a week to have a play with some of my images. I’ve been lucky to find some really great tutorials on Youtube which I’ve already used in my client work. I have been thinking about actually paying for some training but I’m not 100% sure what I should be trained on. I find that I easily freak out when I’m asked to do something I’m not 100% sure on how to do and I panic. I really shouldn’t do this as it makes me forget that I do have skills I need to complete these tasks!

I have been in contact with the amazing Peter Strauli who I’ve worked with and eventually I’d love to outsource all my editing work to him. He also does training so there’s a relationship with him I’m keen to develop. I was also advised by my college tutor to check out Gry Garness (who’s now sadly deceased) who has some very useful tutorials. I’m also following Lastolite’s Youtube channel for tutorials on using their kit which I like.

Do you have any great resources for learning photoshop?

What’s my goal?

  • Learn to drive

I’ve always regretted that I didn’t take up the driving lessons I was bought when I was a teenager. When you live in Cambridge you really don’t need to own a car, a bicycle is enough. As I’ve got older I’ve relied on friends for lifts and getting taxis to venues. It’s not sustainable anymore. There is an argument that isn’t worth learning to drive with the rise of driverless cars. We won’t see driverless cars filter into modern society until 2020 and it’s estimated in 2040 95% of the cars on our roads will be autonomous. I don’t think my business is going to work if I wait around for that long! According to MoneySupermarket, it costs an average of £1,128 in the UK to learn to drive. Then I’d need to factor in possibly buying a car, along with insurance and petrol it really does rack up.

How am I going to do this?

This goal is going to wait a little while until the middle of the year when my birthday rolls around. The best way for me raise some money for lessons is going to be friends and family helping me out. I’m not interested in doing an intensive course so intend to take my time and feel confident in learning. Another idea I did have was possibly doing a skills swap with a local driving instructor, I’d provide photography for them in exchange for lessons!

When did you learn to drive, and was it a valuable decision you made?

Business Development

What’s my goal?

  • Workshops

Last year whilst working at the Cambridge Business Lounge I was the organiser of the Women’s Network which I really loved doing. I got to meet some amazing women and put on some awesome events. I moved on from CBL in August to work full time on my business but I was regularly asked when the next Women’s Network event was. This made me realise that there was a demand for this group to continue, and after some discussion, Cambridge Business Women was created.

How am I going to do this?

I’ve had two ideas for workshops I think that our community could get some real value from. The first being around branding. I’m going to bring together Cambridge Businesswomen who are experts in communications, social media and design along with myself for visuals. It’s going to be a relaxed format during a day where attendees can walk away with actionable skills. My second workshop is all about personal development. I’m thinking of again drawing on the talents of our community with a confidence coach and personal stylist with the chance to have a professional photo session with the skills learnt.

Would either of these workshops appeal to you? I’d love to know your thoughts.

What’s my goal?

  • Personal Projects

Photography has always been something I’ve used to express my feelings and a tool for expression. When it comes down to it I love capturing a personality, teasing it out of a person and securing the essence of somebody in an image. Did you know that being a freelance photographer you spend only 20% of your time taking pictures? To keep your ideas fresh and to keep inspired working on personal projects is key. Last year I started working on a project called Academic Women. I wanted to photograph the amazing Academic women which Cambridge has many of. Focusing in on Anglia Ruskin and the many colleges of Cambridge University I wanted to learn more about the academic women who lives and works in my city.

Ideally, I’d like to be able to capture these portraits, create a book and have an exhibition which would run through the second week of March to coincide with International Women’s Day. This project took a lot more time than I expected as I wanted to do it the correct way with Arts Council funding, and just developing a new business it got left by the wayside. 2018 is going to be the year I put more effort into making these projects happen, and I’ve already got a few ideas of ones which I can do. I’m also hoping to be part of Cambridge Open Studios in the future too.

How am I going to do this?

By making loads of notes of ideas which pop into my head! I’m a person who must have at least 3-4 notebooks on the go for various different things. I’m also going to make sure that I watch more art-related documentaries and get myself out to more art galleries.

There’s a couple of ideas which I’m currently working on;

‘The business of religion’ (working title) Document as many religious leaders in Cambridge to discover more about them and how their religion contributes to their personality. There’s been a drop in people identifying as religious and it would be great to meet those who identify a part of their identity through religion.

‘Cambridge life’ a street photography piece inspired by a fascinating documentary I watched on Bill Cunningham who was the New York Times photographer. I know that A Cambridge Diary already exists and it’s a brilliant ongoing collection of images, so I’d need to carve my own path. Read about the time I met Martin and fangirled at him.

‘Funny Women’ Portraits of female comedians. I’m rather lucky to have a rather funny woman as part of my family who’s pretty amazing. This idea needs a lot more developing.

Cambridge Street Vet‘ My wonderful Cambridge Businesswomen co-organiser and good friend Berenice mentioned this organisation to me as she’s a massive dog lover and thought I’d be interested in learning more. I’d like to do more charity work this year and I’m going to speak to them to see if I can do some documentary work to help raise their profile.

So as you can see there’s a good number of ideas I’m playing with. It’s so important to divert my energy to personal projects as I’ve found that you actually get to show your work to a different audience and it might lead to new clients. Win-win!

What’s my goal?

  • Public Speaking

I also found that last year I made a point to push myself out of my comfort zone and did some public speaking in the form of PeckaKucha and Drive the Network’s Ask the Expert. I found both experiences liberating and exciting and 2018 I’m planning to aim for at least 4 public speaking gigs this year. I’ve talked about before how I’m dyslexic and find taking ideas from my head and putting them down onto paper rather difficult (amusing when you ask your Twitter community what medium this blog should have been created!) and I have done a lot more videos last year.There’s a feeling I get in the run up before I stand to speak. I’m usually feeling nervous, but the few seconds before I embrace the fear and boom, its gone and everything starts to flow flawlessly from me.

How am I going to do this?

I’ve decided I’m going to find four public speaking opportunities and I’ve secured my first one this month. I’ll be speaking at the Cambridge WordPress meetup on the 15th of January about creating awesome images for your business. I might have another opportunity elsewhere but I’m just trying to get that confirmed. I’ve also been published in the Cambridge News in an article I wrote with a day in the life and fingers crossed I’ll have another image editorial in the Cambridge Business Magazine very soon!

My major aims are to educate, Inspire, Inform. If I’m able to do this by providing my knowledge on everything photographic and having the opportunity to collaborate with others I’m going to be one very happy photographer.

So you’ve read my goals and aspirations, what’s in store for you in 2018?

Let me know in the comments below, or Tweet me. I’d love to hear from you!

Jemima Willcox is a personal brand portrait photographer based in Cambridge, UK.

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