Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year!  あけましておめでとうございます!

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and spent time with family, friends and loved ones.

I love this time of the year as it is a great chance to reflect on accomplishments of the past and also think about the things I want to do differently or better this year.   I like to plan the big directional changes I want in my life or projects that I want to accomplish.  I have come up with a pretty good list for this year:

I want to become a student of photography

What does this mean?  I took a few lessons initially and I have read some books to understand the fundamentals of photography but I have never really ‘studied’ photography.  I have mostly just gone out and shot the world in front of me.  I know most people actually have the opposite problem of just studying and not getting out enough.   I learned so much last year at The Jay Maisel Workshop in New York City.    The big take away for me was there is so much more to learn and so many ways to do it.   As I have mentioned I have started collecting photography books as a way to begin to study the work of other photographers and try to understand what makes them great.  I want to go to more galleries and showings of other photographers work.  It is a great way to network but also a great way to learn.

I want to improve my technical skills as a photographer

I also need to work on some of my technical skills as a photographer.  I need to become more proficient with Lightroom and Photoshop.   Today I have a very minimalist digital workflow in Lightroom which has served me well in the past but it has reached a point with 10s of 1,000s of imagines that it needs to scale out.  I want to get more structured in my workflow, catalog management and copyright management.  I do very little post processing but there are times that it could really enhance my images.  I think mastering these will really improve my efficiency when working on these tasks.   I was historically using www.lynda.com but I cancelled my subscription this morning and signed up at Kelby Training.  They have great videos with some of the best in the business covering just about every topic on photography.   I am going to set a schedule each week where I can sit down and learn a topic.  I am excited for this.

I want to explore Japan more

I live in a amazing city which gives me a massive canvas for my art but there is so much that is so close that I have yet to explore.   I travel a lot for work so I often stick around home when I am ‘home’.  I am determined to get out on a few day trips this year and begin to explore the great places near me such as Kyoto, Kobe, Osaka, and Sapporo.   Perhaps I will do this as one of the Photowalks I host and invite some other photographers along.

I want to more consistently study Japanese

My Japanese level still isn’t where I want it to be and it only will get there if I study more consistently.  I will begin to ‘schedule’ it so I am more diligent with it.  It is just something I need to do.

..and my biggest project for the year:  I will publish a book

I have decided that I have enough content together that I want to create a ‘ShootTokyo’ book of my photography.  I am so intrigued by projects like this and love working through all the details.  Should I self publish?  How do I get an ISBN number?  How do I enter my book into the Library of Congress?   How can I distribute?   How can I sell on Amazon?   How do you make that ‘look inside’ view they have on Amazon?    Should I have an iPad or Kindle edition?    How do I use InDesign to make a layout? So many details to think about.  I love these types of projects.   December 31st or bust!

What are your resolutions this year?    Please leave a comment and share…

I know many photographers take on 52 or 365 projects in the new

year…well a 366 this year since is it a leap year.  These are great ways to improve your photography as it forces you to get out and shoot.  I am going to participate in one on Google+.    Projects like this require a lot of dedication, determination and creatively.  It can be hard to get motivated sometimes and find that inspiration. Many photographers have their own way to deal with these dry spells and mine was/is was I call ‘The 2K Experiment’.   You can read it HERE.

Now on to today’s photographs…The shrines in Tokyo, and across Japan, are packed with visitors from New Year’s Eve until the January 3rd.   People go to the shrine to pray for safety, happiness and long lives for their family.   Many people are buying good luck ‘omamori’ to protect their families from illness, disasters and accidents.  I went to the shrine just a few blocks from my house this morning to see the activity.

Cleanliness is important in the Shinto religion.  As you approach most shrines you will see a water basin called a ‘chozubachi’ which has a wooden spoon that you can use to scoop water to pour over both of your hands.   Once you have done this then people pour into a cupped hand so they can rise our their mouths and then spit the water back out into the palm of their hands.

One of the traditions at the shrine is ‘omikuji’, which are random fortunes on strips of paper.   Omikuji can be literally translated as ‘sacred lottery’ as you can get fourtunes ranging from great blessing to small blessing to half curse to great curse. Omikuji predicts a person’s chances of his or her hopes coming true in areas such as health, fortune, love and life.   When the prediction is bad, it is a custom to fold up the paper and tie it to a wall of strings, wires or a pine tree alongside other bad fortunes on the temple grounds.   The idea is a pun off of the pronunciation of the kanji for ‘pine tree’ and the verb ‘wait’ which are both pronounced the same way ‘matsu’, the idea being the bad fortune will wait rather than follow the bearer of it.   If the fortune is good you can either keep it or tie it up for even greater fortune.

With 2012 upon us I look forward to another great year of photography…

What resolutions did you make for the year?   Please feel free to leave a comment.   If you like what you saw today please share it by clicking one of the links below.


  • Moe

    You gave me an idea Dave, writing down my resolutions. Perhaps this will help me carry them to fruition. One of my resolutions is to set aside quiet time where I can slow down my life, I think signing up for yoga will help. The 2nd would be to become more organized. You are super organized with all you accomplish. That’s my 2nd resolution, to become more organized…Thanks for helping with my resolutions. By the way, your idea of publishing a book is a great one!

  • Jim

    I know you will get a lot out of Kelby Training. I studied the Joe Mcnally series on Flash. It was really Great and easy to follow.

  • Simon Smallridge

    Our New Years resolutions are quite similar. I am now a part time student having just started a photography degree. My second resolution is to pick up my Chinese study again and push that forward. Finally I want to finish writing my memoir about my life in China.

    Good luck with yours, you won’t regret collecting photography books, I have just started with Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Capa, Martin Parr and Don McCullin.

  • Jeff

    I like how you keep yourself motivated! What 52 or 365 group on Google+ did you join? I am thinking of doing one myself since I have been stuck in a dry spell.

  • Dave

    Jeff – Last year I wasn’t part of any group it was all self motivation. I did joining a group doing a 52 project (one photo a week for a year) on Google+. If you search GPLUS::P52::2012 you will find it. They closed it already search the stream and find the curator and he might let you in. I have sent a few others to him and he let them in. Good luck.

  • Stephane

    Hello Dave
    First I want to wich you and your family a happy new year. Second, thank you for your work and passion, I like Japan (I only be there once),I like and admire Japanese culture (and gear, I’m a Canon guy) and photography, so your website and your pictures are a blessing for me. Also congratulation, if I correctly understood you have a full time job in Tokyo, wich mean a twice full time job… A family, and you manage to take pictures everyday and (and very good ones) and finally put them on your web site. I’m impressed. Even if I spend few time in Japan I had the chance to be in Yokohama, nice place to visit, you should consider visiting kamakura, around 1h train from Yokohama. My favorite city is Kyoto, I only spend one day there, but i can remember every minute of my visit.

    This year I’ll decide to improve my pictures, first with books, reading, watching, copying, inspiring…. Then I decide to take more pictures and to follow your examples, use only one gear at a time, the month of the 24, the the 50… Thank you for the website, I was looking for Internet information on courses it seems to be interesting.

    Have you considered blurb for your book? They are pretty good for printing books (at least in US and Europe) and there is a selling system that I only peeped (?) quickly, I used them for now 4 years and I’m very please with their website.

    One more time, happy new year from France and thank for sharing your pictures.

  • Dave

    Hi Stephen – Happy New Year to you as well. Thanks…this does require a lot of dedication and an understanding wife. I am considering Blurb for book as well as a couple of other companies. Blurb’s Pro Series looks really good and it seems to you can book store quality books from it which is what I am looking to produce. Look forward to seeing you around.

  • Dave

    Thanks Jim. The Kelby training is really good so far. I expect to get a lot out of it.

  • Dave

    Simon… very similar paths.

  • http://chenduo.me Dragon

    Happy new year Dave!!
    Ten months have passed since I started to subscribed your blog after earthquake in March.It’s not a long time but I really have learned a lot about photography from your photos and blogs.With my poor English I just want to say thank you and wish you have greater capture in 2012!

    @Simon ,I can help improving your Chinese level 😀

  • Kate

    New Years Resolutions:

    1. Stay as organized as possible (at work and home)
    2. Mind more of what I eat and keep portion sizes under control. Not dieting, just portions.
    3. Focus more when I’m at work (I get sidetracked very easily).
    4. Take more pictures with my camera this year.
    5. STAY POSITIVE! (I’m generally pretty positive, this is just so I keep positive).

  • http://www.halinav.com Galina

    That’s a great list of goals,
    I’ve never use keywords and categories in Lightroom, but your post makes me want to 1) watch Matt’s training and see what I’m missing.

    publishing book is great!
    did you see lulu.com website? I don’t know anything about publishing, but I believe they have services on how to create a layout, get ISBN and other useful things.

  • Dave

    Galina – You really need to try keywording. I can find images in my library in seconds now. I wish I did this years ago. I checked out the Lulu site. They did have a lot of options but those are all things you can do yourself. I think the books at Blurb have a lot of options for photography books.

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