How to finish A Year With My Camera

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Starting is the easy part. What is different about the people who finish?

A year is a loooong time. You’ll start A Year With My Camera raring to go, full of excitement and impatient for the next lesson. What do you do when the novelty wears off? How do you push through the slumps and recapture those feelings from the beginning of the year?

This post is a joint effort between Emma, the two 2019 admins (Judith White and Hilary Dickson) and everyone who is still doing the course from the April 2018 start (ie. still at it 9 months in). The quotes are reproduced with permission and are all from the April 2018 starters.

1. Embrace the mini-restarts

Emma designed the course to be a series of smaller courses broken up with weeks off for the chance to catch up. If you fall behind, don’t give up completely. As long as you finish the first 4 weeks, you can simply pick up the course again at the start of any new module. You are welcome to repeat the course once you get to the end, so you can redo the bits you missed.

Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a lesson or two life happens. You will catch up in your own time. Also, I carry a camera with me wherever I go, it’s ok to use your mobile!
— Fiona Potter

2. We find time for what’s important

Learning to use your camera isn’t easy, and it isn’t passive. A Year With My Camera is a challenging course that needs your active involvement in small doses every week. It is broken down into the smallest chunks possible so that you are never overwhelmed, but you will need to decide if it’s important to you or not.

For me, the key to keeping going has been to remember why I chose to do the course, and that it’s been my choice to do it. Not to be too hard on myself - sometimes things go well, sometimes not so well, but if it hasn’t, it’s a supportive environment in which we can learn.
— Wendy Chalk

3. Pay particular attention to the first module

The first 6 weeks are the most technical ones, and it’s best to embrace them with optimism and a sense of adventure. You might not understand everything first time through, but that doesn’t matter. That’s why this is a year with your camera. You just can’t learn photography in a weekend, so don’t try to. The biggest drop-off we see is in week 5, when there is a challenging exposure triangle exercise. If you can make it through to week 6, you’re more likely to make it to the finish.

Wise words from Judith on this point: “The more time you invest in the first module, the less you will want to leave that effort behind and start again.”

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4. Open the emails each week

There will be weeks you are busy, on holiday, ill, distracted, caring for someone else, not in the mood or any one of a hundred reasons not to join in. If you start the habit of opening the email each week (or reading the next chapter if you’re working from the book), you are setting a very strong foundation to see you through the whole year.

I realise now not to panic if I don’t get something or feel I’m getting left behind. Do things at your own pace.
— Louise Few

5. Do the homework, don’t just say you’ll do it

The exercises each week are the least you need to do if you want to master your camera. You need to do the homework so you see how the instructions apply to your particular camera, and to build your muscle memory. The more you actively take photos, the quicker your fingers will be able to find the buttons and dials when you need them.

Don’t give up... even when you only get 1 in 100 photo correct it all comes together eventually
— Teri Whitehouse

6. Don’t blame your camera

People with bridge cameras find the lessons on aperture particularly challenging because their camera does not have the range of apertures that interchangeable lens cameras have. Yes, it’s disappointing not to be able to do as much as someone else, but it’s not impossible to make it work. You do have to work harder, but you will be a better photographer at the end of it because your kit is not as forgiving as the rest of them. A positive mindset will see you through for the year where a negative one will prompt you to give up after week two.

I’m just keeping on keeping on. It’s a process one step or picture at a time. And if you have the books it’s like having a friend who keeps all the info together.
— Linda Cooke


Do you want to join?

A Year With My Camera is a beginner’s photography course, free by email, that starts 4 times a year. Join here and get started today:

Click here to subscribe

If you can’t wait for the next free email series, you can buy the workbooks and start any time: click to download a free trial chapter.

MindsetEmma Davies