Yesterday by accident I came across a post I wrote back in early January about not making any photography goals for the new year, instead using an alternative approach called More or Less Lists.
So I thought it would be useful to review what I did and how it’s worked so far.
It turns out it’s been very effective indeed.
First, a quick recap of More or Less Lists and how they work.
Instead of setting goals, which are focused on a specific outcome or destination, over the last few years I’ve found it more helpful to simply write down what I’d like more of in my life, and what I’d like less of.
This works better for me as it’s more journey oriented than destination.
If you have an eight hour car trip ahead of you, and focus purely on the place you’re heading to, with no thought to how to the journey will be filled, it’s not going to be the happiest third of a day of your life. Especially with kids in the car!
But if you consider how you’d like to fill the time as you travel, and what you might like to try along the way, you’ll hopefully end up with a fun and memorable journey. Even if you don’t get where you were heading exactly when you wanted.
Looking back to ten months ago, these are the things I decided I wanted more of in my photography life –
More List – January 2018
Using and enjoying the minimal arsenal of cameras/lenses I already have.
Using each camera/lens for more extended periods to get to know them better.
Digital photography (with digital cameras).
Experimenting with Hipstamatic on iPad for processing.
Prints of photographs.
Using iPad for online browsing, viewing and writing blog posts.
Discipline and intelligent choices in where I spend my time online – mostly reading and supporting other blogs (photography, minimalism and beyond).
Writing and lining up blog posts ahead of time.
Walking, with the camera in my head (my eyes!) and physical cameras.
Here’s a quick review of how each of these has gone so far this year.
More List Review – October 2018
Using and enjoying the minimal arsenal of cameras/lenses I already have – I now only have two films cameras and eight digital, including my phone. The last camera I bought was my Lumix GF1, about three months ago.
Using each camera/lens for more extended periods to get to know them better – In the last three months I’ve only used three different cameras – my two Panasonic Lumix and my Sony Xperia phone. It’s still fairly early days with the Lumix GF1 but I know my Lumix LX3 and phone camera as well as I need to now, to get the results I like.
Digital photography (with digital cameras) – I haven’t shot a single frame of film in 2018.
Shooting JPEGs – I can’t remember when I last shot RAW, I don’t think at all in 2018. I haven’t used LightRoom since January, and my subscription finally ended in May. JPEGs work very well for me, especially with the two Lumix cameras and their fantastic Dynamic Mono modes delivering very pleasing images straight out of camera.
With my phone I use a simple b/w preset I’ve set up in Snapseed, and also use my phone for this processing. I use the same presets with my other digital compacts when I use them.
Experimenting with Hipstamatic in iPad for processing – This worked pretty well initially. But then I bought a new phone, switching to a Sony Xperia Android rather than iPhone. Hipstmatic is iOS only, so for consistency I wanted a similar app that I could use with my Xperia too, and after reading plenty of glowing praise about Snapseed, took the leap. I’ve been delighted with it, and for the pictures not quite how I’d like straight out of camera, I use Snapseed to process b/w photos in about 13 seconds. I do also have Snapseed on my iPad, but to be honest the Xperia phone is more than good enough for this, it’s not worth using another device.
Prints of photographs – Whilst I’ve not printed hundred of photographs, I have made a few dozen, and our downstairs bathroom is a gallery in progress. Seeing images in printed form does feel quite different to them just being in a screen, and I would encourage anyone to try printing more of theirs. I’ve just been using an instant machine in a shop or supermarket with pleasing and affordable results.
Using iPad for online browsing, viewing and writing blog posts – This started strongly, then all but disappeared after I reset my MacBook and resurrected my wife’s old HP laptop as a Chromebook. My poor iPad simply gathered dust for a few months. Then, as I rediscovered cycling and a few cycling blogs and forums, the iPad came back into its own. Whilst usable as a writing device (which I’m doing right now) for me its truer purpose seems much more for reading and browsing. Combined with an auto scroll app like Mantaray, it’s as good as a book, but one that you rarely need to turn the page of. And the screen is big enough for looking at most photos too, for the times I am looking at them online.
Discipline and intelligent choices in where I spend my time online – mostly reading and supporting other blogs (photography, minimalism and beyond) – I wrote more about this very recently, and how my series of my series of unplugged experiments have evolved. In summary, this has gone very well, I’ve abandoned social media aside from a few uploads to Flickr, and rarely feel that I’m involved in mindless online activities.
Regular blogging – I started the year publishing around one post every three days, experimented in May with a higher rate (including a week streak), and have since settled back down a little again. My precise calculation of a post every 2.79 days back in April being the optimum for me, still seems spot on with the other commitments and interests I have in my life right now.
Writing and lining up blog posts ahead of time – Although one of the appeals of blogs is you feel as a reader you are reading the author’s very latest thoughts and ideas, from the other side of the screen as writer, it’s very handy to be able to schedule posts a little ahead of time. Whilst I know some people write weeks in advance, I’ve settled down to having just one or two posts queued up at any one point. Any more than this and I was feeling I wasn’t giving you the reader my most recent thoughts and ideas, it just didn’t feel authentic somehow. I do have a few posts in draft (well, about 70 currently), so plenty to work with for future posts, where I can expand them (most are just a title) to reflect my current thoughts on the topic. And then of course to get yours.
Walking, with the camera in my head (my eyes!) and physical cameras. I bought a Misfit Ray activity tracker in January and aside from a couple of weeks between when it died and when I received a replacement, it’s been great for keeping track of my walking, and encouraging me to do more. I love numbers, and seeing my total steps and/or points each day, week and month motivates me to keep it up. Combined with my return to regular cycling in the last month or so, I recorded more exercise last month (September – just over 380,000 steps) than any since I had the tracker. In truth, combined with my daily yoga/exercise routine, I’m exercising more than any time since I used to dance salsa up to five times a week some seven or eight years ago.
As you can see, the More or Less technique works brilliantly well for me.
What I love is that even by going through this just exercise once and writing down your final More list, even if you don’t then look at the list for months, it seems to penetrate your subconscious deeply enough to work its magic anyway.
If I hadn’t stumbled across my January list again whilst playing with the random post generator built into WordPress, it might have been months before I did revisit it again.
Yet the things I wrote down as wanting to do more of have naturally manifested anyway.
It’s probably a good time to revise the list, and do the exercise again to include photography plus my rejuvenated cycling interest. Watch out for that post soon.
Have you ever tried using a More or Less list, or something similar? How’s it worked for you? What else has been effective in helping improve and progress your photography, and your life overall?
Please let us know below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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