I was pondering this question today. Why set goals? Do they really matter? How can they impact my work?
After thinking about it for a while I decided that goals still matter. Here are some points to consider.
You can probably drive from Miami to Anchorage without a map. Just keep moving northwest and you’ll eventually get there. But if you have a goal – let’s say getting there by the shortest route – or the most scenic route – or the route that avoids the most interstate highways, your journey has new purpose.
Goals do that for us. They give us purpose. Yes the counter argument – “I just want to be free to be creative and let my camera find whatever it finds,” is a strong one, but it’s not as productive for me.
When I go out with only a wide angle lens, and force myself to look for shots that work using wide glass, I set a goal of sorts. There is a target. If I decide to narrow that target and say, I want only wide shots that include the color green, I have an even more narrow target. As you keep moving this idea forward, you can end up with something very tightly focused. For me, that provides the best incentive to work hard. I know that I have a reason and a purpose.
If you want to improve your work, build your portfolio, get more clients, these are all goals. But what short-term goals can you set today, right now, that will help you find your target?
I’ve spoken with photographers who disagree with this proposition. They say shooting with a specific goal in mind is too stressful. When I hear that, I really hear something like – “Scott, if I set goals I might fail. And if I have a clearly defined goal and don’t meet that goal, I will be a failure. If I don’t set goals, then there’s nothing to hold me accountable for and I can just go along on my merry way, stress free.”
The problem with that thinking is that it assumes failure is a bad thing. Sometimes we learn more from failure than success. So don’t be afraid to set goals for your photography.