At the New Year, I wrote down a few promises to the photographer in me, then tacked them to the wall in my office. They take me back to when I was a 4-year-old kid who followed her dad around the yard with her first Kodak Brownie. After all, I’m still growing in this skill.

Don’t get me wrong—I’ve learned a great deal about photography over the past several years, especially while attending The Ultimate Money-Making Photography Workshop in 2013. Since then, most of what I’ve learned has been through the old mantra “Practice, practice, practice.”

I thoroughly enjoy the side income that travel photography adds to my life. It helps pay the bills and funds my travel. And my Canon? Well, it seems more like an appendage than a camera, now.

People who buy my photographs swear I have an eye for it. Their comments make me smile. 

But there’s still so much to learn.

My main promise: “I will work hard to up my game and improve my photography skill set. I’ll discover new ways to enjoy photography.”

And I’m going to do it by trying to take three good shots a day. Here are the three kinds of photographs I’m focusing on:

3 types of shots travel photographer Theresa St John is focusing on this year

1. Purposeful Shots

“I promise to slow way down. I’m going to become much more purposeful in my photography and will practice taking fewer, but better, shots.”

Jumping into the age of digital cameras was hard. I really struggled with putting my 35mm aside.

With film, I felt as if every shot were deliberate. It was far too expensive to just take a photo, then throw it away if it wasn’t good enough.

But with digital, that’s exactly what you can do. Take a gazillion images—just save the best, ditch the rest.

 3 types of shots travel photographer Theresa St John is focusing on this year

2. Background Images

“I’m going to concentrate on enjoying more of the simple things in life. I promise to look for background images that’ll be best-sellers in stock, ones that work well for copy, too.”

I truly love stock photography. I have so much fun with it! And I know that copy looks good (models do, too) on simple but tastefully done background shots.

I’ve spent hours in libraries and neighborhood book stores, studying magazine layouts, analyzing book and album covers. I’m always impressed with the power of a basic but strong background image.

3 types of shots travel photographer Theresa St John is focusing on this year

3. Detail Shots

“I promise to close in even further and take a close-up detail shot.”

I’ve always loved detail shots. My dad used to laugh at me. He preferred photographing landscapes (or bugs) and wanted every single stinkin’ thing to end up in the frame.

Me? I wanted half a flower. The trunk of a tree. Someone’s hand. We’d laugh and poke fun at each other, but neither wanted to bend, to try photography any other way.

“I promise to concentrate and come away with three shots. I will take an every-single-stinkin’-thing shot, then a close-up, then a detail shot. I’ll practice this for months, as long as it takes to get it right.”

I feel really good about these simple promises to myself.

In this bright and shiny year ahead, I hope the exercises will make me a stronger photographer. I feel like they already are. I hope to learn more about living in the “moments” of my New Year, not always running off to take the next shot.  

And my first three images are in honor of Dad. 

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