Week 2 / Project 1

Photography FRESH START

Week 2 / Project 1 – What kind of photographer do you want to be?

Have you ever asked yourself what kind of photographer you want to be?

Do you ever feel like your photography gets pulled in to different directions? Like you should be shooting something because, maybe, your friends or camera club members are doing it – or some one tells you that you should? 

This week’s video is all about figuring out what kind of photographer you want to be, and why it’s important to figure that out. I’ll share my story and ways that I figured it out (and how it changes over time), and hopefully help you with the same thing. 

Assignment: What are your thoughts? Do you have a favorite genre in photography? Have you specialized or do you plan to try? Comment below…

NOTE: This is a 15 minute video of me talking (no screen capture to follow along). If you want to speed it up, click on the gear icon in the lower right corner of the playbar. I may sound like a chipmunk but you’ll get through the video faster. 


  1. Guido

    Never been a one type guy. But exercise one of week one showed me that at this point in time, I rather shoot simple things.
    A street is an old place leading into the mountains. It expresses my desire to still go high into the mountains and picture stunning landscapes, which my age no longer permits. But do I love those narrow streets, the wear and tear.
    Add to that closeups of people doing their thing, walking in a group I belong to, making fun, laughing, dreaming, being bewildered by a sight.
    I like to make pictures where people look at, get a happy smile when they remember that very moment, and when they tell me, I am so glad you took that shot.

    The gear is what allows me to carry around, an DSLR APS-C and an 18-300 mm, I am always complaining that it’s not sharp enough, but I am the only one. Because I don’t have the time to switch lenses and cannot carry heavier equipment. But color and composition are key, and this is my key worry. And not to forget to go back to the basis settings in the heat of the action, I specialize in over exposed interiors of cathedrals and totally underexposed landscapes. But you will not find those in my portfolio.

  2. Cynthia Hollingsworth

    Finally reached week 2 — yes, guess that makes me a late bloomer, or a procrastinator. I think I prefer the former. But anyway, this was very thought-provoking for me. I take landscapes — particularly when I’m down in the Smokies, but the truth is — and I’ve actually said it; I just didn’t realize what I was saying — my husband likes those sweeping vista photos that I take. I like the closeups, the detail, the macro, the flowers. I think this exercise in Week 2 sorta gave me permissions to shoot what I like and what I think works best for me, and I can occasionally throw in the others. For me, too, I sometimes think that “landscape” isn’t particularly well-defined. I mean — flowers in a field can be a landscape.

  3. Barbara Johnstone

    Matt, thank you so much for sharing your experiences and insights. My first photography passion is landscape (including the addition of astrophotography); yes, I get how separate and different those can be but those are the two aspects I feel like I, at least in my heart and mind, I am all in on. Now, being all in in my heart and mind is one thing; but as you have said, being all in on getting myself to those places that provide the “opportunity” for greatness is a big challenge in itself. AND, I keep working to make that a joy. My next is wildlife, esp. birds (of prey esp.). My photography budget is limited so I finally focused on landscape and I have only some basics but that is where I focus with the occasional foray to wildlife with the help of gear loaned from wonderful friends that don’t have my budget constraints and rentals. Thanks again for your insights, sharing, etc. For some reason, I have been drawn to you and your teaching for quite sometime now. Thanks.

  4. David Howard

    A thing I found in 2019 that I really enjoy is non-profit events. These organizations are trying to raise awareness and funds for causes, not pay photographers. So it is a labor of love, not an obligation. Seeing and capturing the faces of people who are dealing with cancer, drugs, etc, and capturing that event to help them is amazing.

    I also do landscape, architecture, corporate portraits, and some wildlife. But none of these require the discipline to do compared to capturing an event with many variables.

  5. Jamie Banta

    Garden photography is my favorite – flowers, leaves, backyard critters, close-ups. I love photographing birds and other wildlife, but it’s challenging getting close enough with my 55-300mm.

  6. Kathy

    I started out with photojournalism, working for a small newspaper where I had to be the one reporter and the one photographer. My favorite in those days was sports and I still enjoy it but have little access to the most interesting sports events. I enjoy landscape but find that my best shots look like thousands of others from that scene. I’m still working on whether I can get beyond that. I enjoy some wildlife work but not sure I want to invest in the expensive lenses to do it well. I found a lot of freedom when I realized I didn’t have to do portrait or studio work. I am not good at posing and lighting people although I could probably finance my equipment wants if I would do senior pictures and family portraits. I’ve started experimenting with composites, which gives me a chance to put my artistic eye on a photo (or two or three if I’m blending). But I’m still exploring some. A question: I am intrigued by a trip like the Costa Rica trip. How does one know if their photography skills are up to an intensive photoshoot? Great talk, Matt! Thanks!

  7. Sharron

    Hi Matt: Thanks so much for this series! I’ve spent a fair bit of time wondering what my photography ‘style’ is as I’ve tried my hand at a variety of styles – thinking it was all important. But, like you, I realized there were some things I just didn’t really connect with or enjoy doing. For me, the excitement comes in capturing real ‘moments’ that showcase simply being ‘human’. I love to capture people ‘in performance’ – those moments when they are being really ‘vulnerable’ with their gifts and abilities. Does that make me weird?? Sometimes, I worry I’m being a ‘voyeur’ and it creeps me out, but it’s really about capturing a person’s moment of focus or intensity or simple joy of what they are doing on a stage for the masses. And, I’m also a ‘foodie’, so love doing a little close up/macro word capture the colours and textures of food, raw or cooked. I guess both of those subjects are about getting ‘up close and personal’. Having said that, though, I discovered I didn’t really care too much for portrait work – at least the kind where people ‘pose’. I’d rather catch them just ‘being’..if you know what I mean? Of course, the challenge in capturing people in performance is all the technical challenges with shooting people, usually in the dark! ARRRGH – so, lots of lighting stuff to think about – and I think I tend to place more importance on creating an image, than wanting to become a technical expert (though I know that’s so important to be able to capture what you want!) Anywhoooooo……thanks for the inspiring series!

  8. Kristy Willey

    I’m drawn to lifestyle photography but also find myself wanting to do painterly images. Extreme ends of the spectrum. The photos that I have taken that I truly love are macro nature shots mostly of flowers and plant life. So clearly still trying to figure out where I want to land. I’ve only been at it for 11 years so still working on giving myself permission to just shoot and be happy about it. Part of my photography is feeling like I have to ‘save’ the memories for myself and others. Not sure when I took on that load but do feel like it holds me back from just focusing on what moves me. As it is I can get overwhelmed with where to even begin at times.

  9. Jim Lassoie

    I’ve had a camera of one sort or another since the mid-50s.Yes, I have 1000s of chromes, B&W, color, digital some from great places around the world. Being a professor of international conservation for the past 40 years certainly has helped. This year I interestingly began focusing on the images I have rather than the images I might get…specifically through post-process experimentation and printing. Sure I’ll continue to add to my collection but I’ve been really energized by the challenges of printing the post-processed expressions/interpretations of my nature images.

  10. Ron Ballard

    Over my many years of photography I have probably tried most genres at least a little. I have learned that I am most interested in landscape and travel photography. I enjoy the post-processing and feel I have learned a lot in that area and keep spending time to learn new techniques in this area. Matt, you are one of the instructors I enjoy watching and learning from. I find I also get motivation from watching photography videos on YouTube. I have a handful of photographers I follow on YouTube but do drop or add contributors over time. As far as motivating myself I have set a goal for 2020 to spend time learning more about light painting and astro photography.

  11. Mary Jean

    Hi Matt,

    Some time ago I went on a photography workshop. The instructor asked us to bring a portfolio of several of our favourite photos. As he was going over my portfolio his comments became increasingly critical over the photos despite the fact that the group were saying that the pictures were very good. Something he had not done with the other participants. I made up my mind then and there that while I was open to thoughtful critiques from people that I respected, I would not be intimidated by what others thought of my photos, even other photographers. Since then I trust my gut, if I really like a photo, I hang in my office and if every day when I look at it, I think yup that’s a good shot, then I am satisfied. If I look at it and think, nah I don’t feel good about it, I take it down, study it to see where I could have improved it and then move on and try and do better on the next photography session.

    • Neal Rattican

      Sounds to me, Mary Jean, that your instructor, in all likelihood, became increasingly critical of your work because of his increasing realization that your photographs were better than his own. Even so, he probably helped you realize that in photography the only person you really need to please is yourself, and I think that’s a valuable lesson. Good luck to you on your photography journey.

  12. lacewood

    I started with a film camera and moved into digital, loved how it opened up the ability to take more shots , play with unusual approaches experiment so much more – don’t like it ..delete it’ try more manual and different settings. great learning curve to see it first hand. I did a course with a teacher in our university for fun , learnt how to take a portrait, moving the light around the person , learned things like how front on lights are not always the best and making use of lighting diffusers, eg a scarf over a light – a car sun shield can do amazing things ( frugal ways to cut corners for an amateur -me) I’m not a portrait person but i learnt so much, I’ve followed Kelby for years , I know what you mean about the different types of photographers, thats where I felt the need to do wildlife,- Matt you made it simple to learn “how to”, I’m no expert but I love what I can do. I’m lucky to have brought a canon 6D – love the colours I can get in low light (started with a 30D ) love not having a flash go off , try for the natural candid shots of people – eg grand kids, Its hard sometimes with life being so busy but now we travel Australia a little , I look for the unusual shots, old rusted cars in the bush discarded” the composing of a scene step back /step into .. things I learnt through your courses . but I’m also torn with following a passion of animals’ they surely do throw challenges, I trained a horse and getting the capture before your spotted , or just the frame as your in a training round yard – getting the motion ‘. so much to learn , how to improve next time. I’m still at a cross roads but I’m going to look through my collection , see what I love about my photos , and focus more on areas and see if and what I like and want to do this year. I truely is wonderful seeing everyones take on things- such inspiring photos makes me want to strive for more , maybe try some different ideas….. not feeling alone in thoughts, or feeling different yet we are all different. Thanks these courses inspire more , so much more to achieve.

  13. Lyndie

    I like to photograph wild animals and landscapes. I went to Safari West and photographed their wild animals. I often photograph people since I am a yearbook adviser. I look up interesting sites or landmarks around Sacramento and go photograph those. I also take photos when I take trips. The trips are not photography specific though so I don’t come away with a lot of rad photos, some but not a lot. I end up with a lot of rad memories. I am sure the more I shoot even not on vacation the better my photos will become.

  14. Toni Johnson

    I still don’t have one genre I want to specialize in. I think that is because of availability of subjects to photograph. If an opportunity appears with birds, like the Cedar Waxwings, then that is what I’m photographing that day. I have always had an interest in black and white images, so a goal this year is to improve my black and white knowledge and produce more dramatic images.

  15. Terri-Lyn Love

    Thanks Matt. I have just taken a quote from you and written it in my book of photo projects. I started this book late last year when I finally accepted what my style is and that it is something I want to pursue. I use it to write down ideas of particular shooting projects and to try and feed any creativity I might have. I haven’t been overly creative, I’m hoping this helps. 🙂

    The quote I took was this; “A small shift in your thinking can drastically change your reality”.

    It isn’t news, but it is a great thing to read once in a while to keep you moving in the right direction.

    Thanks again.

  16. Joe Hudspeth

    Thanks for this Matt. I have struggled with what do I want to shoot and the call came out and said “pick you genre and stick with it!” Oh man, I couldn’t do that because I like so many things. Over time, I have devolved into these things in this order:
    1. Car/car shows/plane shows (and the derivatives in the post processing). 2: Wild Horses. 3. Landscapes (subject to the ability to travel-mostly my local area). 4: Old homesteads/decaying buildings. After arriving at these conclusions, I finally figured out that I love post-processing and all of those fun things, so I need to keep my photography going in order to satisfy my love of post. Call me crazy, but that is it.

  17. David L Hall

    The Week 1.1 project of selecting my 2019 Faves was an interesting exercise. I am now going to do the same thing for 2018 then compare and see what I can learn from that. Combine that with the week 2.1 of What Kind of Photographer Do You Want To Be? should be a nice way to get a Fresh Star for 2020.

    One thing I have already thought about after viewing the video is that for 2020 I definitely need to be more creative in trying to come up with new places to shoot for the types of photography I like to do. Have already come up with a couple of ideas and am excited to get started. Another thing is to develop some new styles or looks in my post processing.

    To look at 2019 Faves: http://www.photographyofdlhall.smugmug.com/DlhPhotographs/2019-Faves/

  18. Ken Moore

    Thanks for the insight Matt. I guess in a way I’ve come full circle. I started out taking mostly landscapes and some wildlife photos. After a while I got into real estate photography and enjoyed it. Now that I’m retired I find myself grabbing the camera and going for a walk, being out in nature. I find myself now back to where I started, taking pictures of scenery, birds, flowers, even insects. One thing I’ve never been able to get into is portrait photography. I just don’t think I have the patients for it. I’ve tried and have never been happy with the results.

  19. Steven Teo

    Thanks Matt. I started my photography journey with macros. That is a genre that I still enjoy but because of age, I need to think about how to approach it. Yes, I get that about friends going on a trip and shooting a genre. I went for a paid astrophotography trip. After learning the ropes of that genre, it did not resonate with me. And that genre has been on the shelf. Like the majority of photographers, I shoot landscapes only when the opportunity avail itself. After doing the First Week Project, I realised in 2019, I hardly shot any landscapes. I enjoy shooting street photography, especially, street portraits. Now, the question is; “Should it be in B&W or colour?”

  20. Gary Gibas

    Thanks Matt. The past few years I had been doing event photography, mainly Civil War Reenactments, but in 2019 most of them in my area were cancelled for various reasons. I didn’t have the ambition to try a different genre, so I didn’t take many photos last year. The video has made me think about investigating alternative photography genres, and if I try something that I find I don’t like, it is okay to look for another genre.

  21. Bob Cote

    After thinking about it for a while I decided, about 10 -15 years ago, that I liked to see/experience larger animals and beautiful places that I had not had the opportunity to experience previously. Also, from as far back in my life time as I can remember I wanted to travel in the USA and internationally. So once I retired and later my my wife retired we made photography the purpose of much of our travel while never forgetting that we really wanted to “see and experience” adventures and beautiful things. Lessons and and workshops were great to get us out to areas that I had often never heard about while at the same time teaching us better photography stills. Homework (many how to videos) helped us improve our skills to the point
    we were able to make photos that we were willing to share with friends. We will never become pros but we get great satisfaction from see beautiful things and making pictures that we can enjoy later. I agree although I have photographed many other things finding the subjects you love to photograph is motivational.

  22. Monica Moriak

    This is something I have been thinking about recently. When I look over my favorites from this past year, there was a lot of macro, especially colorful nature. That is what I want to continue to work on. I am also very interested in black and white photography. This is what i plan to focus on this year along with really thinking about editing.

  23. Julie Picardi

    I’ve noticed in the responses that many of you are street photographers. I think I would enjoy this genre as well, but I’ve always been afraid of being seen as a spy – invading privacy. What are the “rules” of street photography? Does it require permission of your subject? If so, do you ask for permission before or after the photograph? Do you feel comfortable posting your images on social media if you don’t have permission from the subject? Please let me know your thoughts. I would like to try this but am a bit intimidated. Thanks!

    • Matt

      Hi Julie – That’s a tough one. Street photography can be simple, easy and difficult all in one. It’s typically of people, so as you can imagine you’ll run in to all kinds.
      For starters, it’s a tough genre. People don’t like a photo being taken of them or being watched in general. Some people may be pleasant and others nasty. So your options are, ask the person first which (to me) many times defeats the purpose of capturing random candid street scenes. Or be sneaky and try to shoot. If the person sees you they may get ticked. Also, don’t for one second think that the appearance of the person with the camera doesn’t matter. If a person who looks one way sits at a park and points their camera at a mom and baby playing together, it can be taken in a positive way. If a person who’s appearance is different (ie. usually, a guy) starts taking photos of kids at a park, that mom is likely to call the police. Appearance matters whether we like to think so or not.
      Lastly, you don’t need permission to use the photo in journalistic purposes. We give up our right to privacy by walking on the street. And if you take a photo of me, and post it to your social media (and don’t try to make money off of it, meaning you don’t have a photo business or try to sell it), then it’s mostly okay (other than people being pissed at you). But the moment you post it, and stand to benefit from it, you open yourself to legal action.
      Best to look in to street photographers and see if there are any that teach it, as I don’t actually do it so while I have some info, it’s not going to help you much in getting it done 🙂

      • Julie Picardi

        Thanks for this information, Matt. Greatly appreciated. You confirmed my thinking that most people will not be happy about it – but I do love the candid images. It’s good to know that I’m not invading privacy if they are walking about, and that makes me breathe a little easier.

        • Matt

          One thing Julie… keep in mind… just because you’re not “legally” invading privacy, doesn’t mean you’re not. It really depends on how it’s perceived. I can legally walk up to my next door neighbor and call them a jerk… it doesn’t mean it’s right. Not sure if you read my story on me selling my drone (talked about it in the post on my top landscape photos of 2019). I can legally fly it in many places. But I don’t like the way I feel when I do, and I don’t like that most people around me see the flying weed-whacker, as an invasion on their privacy and peacefulness 🙂

          • Julie Picardi

            Very true. Information accepted and filed. 😉

  24. Margaret Chilinski

    I do a heck of a lot of flower photography and coastal scenes, this is what i’m most comfortable with and I can do it at home or close to home as I live a short drive from the coast. I don’t really enjoy street photography but I would love to be more confident with it as I have had a few successful goes at it. I would also like to do more abstract stuff.

  25. Bruno

    Hi Matt, I’m a “generalist” as they say. I like street photography, sports/action and landscape. I also like portraits, but being the one that I have the least experience, I an leaving it at the bottom. Currently, there’s not a genre where I say “I want to specialize in this”. I just want to get better at all of them and be more purposeful with my photography. And finally, focus more on telling a story than getting a postcard.

  26. Mike Stanley

    Thanks for doing this series Matt. I’m recently retired and photography has always been a hobby for me. My career was Architecture, and I love what a Great Architect once said; “Architecture is the artful sculpting of light”. I love photography because it can capture the light as the Architect intended it as well as sometimes in more artful ways. It may be a building or a fantastic landscape, but it does freeze time and sometimes it is even better than the memory of the place was in my mind. Now that I have more time for my hobbies I hope to up my game and Focus on Architectural Photography and Landscapes.

  27. Jane Carroll

    I was in the first Fresh Start class and what a difference!!!!
    I was into landscapes until I found Kathleen Clemons and the Lensbaby line up, now my heart sings when I photograph flowers! I took a three day class at a Dahlia Farm and came away with 1,000 photos………..

  28. Marilyn Martin

    Thanks Matt. You hit the nail on the head with the need to focus. My passion is capturing people in the moment. So, that can be realized in street photography as well as in “interactive” portraits where the individual(s) are not posed, but rather captured during a favorite activity. In 2019 I did very little of either!
    So to get back to my passion, I need to identify a list of likely locations to reawaken my street photography as well as some community events or friends & family activities where I might get some interactive portraits. One that comes to mind is a “Knitting & Wine” monthly get together I have with a group of neighbors. Would be fun to capture my friends in the moment!

  29. Helen

    Thank you Matt. I really identified with what you said in the video.

  30. Mary Beth Granger

    Thanks Matt enjoyed your video. 2019 was a year of change for me. Over the past 10 years my husband and I have done a lot of traveling and I specialized in lighthouse photography. We photographed over 150 lighthouses. This past year our traveling days have come to an end due to my husband’s health so I made a decision to specialize in bird photography which I can do in my own backyard. I’ve spent a lot of time getting the right set up and learning more about photographing birds. The change has been very rewarding. Thanks again for your video. It showed me that I have made the right choice.

  31. Michelle Jenkins

    Hi Matt, thanks for the video. This finally made me feel like its okay when I say I don’t like doing a certain type of photography. My favorite is landscapes and nature and my least favorite (read dislike and am uncomfortable with) is anything with people. I always say a tree isn’t going to get mad at me if I take an unflattering photo. I can go back and try again and I can’t do that for a bride or an event. Thanks for the encouragement to stand my ground and not be pushed into doing something I dislike.

  32. calvin kendall

    I agree with your video for a good part of my photography has been photographing at summer camp and teaching digital photography to campers most of the photos put into slide show for the campers. Each year I try to take new approach on what to photograph it is interesting that I have photograph this place for years yet still find new ideas while teaching the campers

  33. Daniel Douglas

    I’ve watched the video twice already and will more than likely watch it again. This is what I struggled with all of last year. I started out, long ago, shooting anything and everything. I know what type of photography I “don’t” want to do. Now I have to dial it in on what type I’d actually enjoy and love shooting. Hoping Fresh Start will continue to help.

  34. Karl S.

    Great video. I gave me some things to think about. My conclusions are that I am an amateur hobbyist photographer and that the primary objective of my photography is to create a photo journal of my life. I want to capture people, events and places that are important to me. Therefore I need to be competent in multiple genres. I also want to enjoy photography as a hobby and as a creative artistic pursuit. I want to enjoy photography as part of activities that I enjoy doing – outdoor activities such as hiking and biking so landscape, wildlife and action adventure have to part of my photography. And importantly I need to share my photos as prints and photo books both for myself and to share with others.

  35. Sherry L.

    Cars. Antique cars more precisely. They are so beautiful and there are so many ways to shoot them and then Ps them. It is making me really learn Photoshop. Traveling is extremely limited and I know that getting that amazing National Geographic kind of shot, that is not an iconic, shoot from the car window shot, can be somewhat taxing for us folks over 60. Working on that though.

  36. paula t van every

    I’m at an odd place in my journey. 2017-18 were banner years: I won some awards and an endowment, had some gallery shows and publicity and best of all had a strong role in a successful environmental project. Even made a few sales. In 2019, everything got wrapped up, and then…nothing. No grand new idea, no inspiration, no great awakening. I’ve got an invite for a new gallery exhibit but nothing to show. I’ve been teaching a few classes, and dabbling in this and that, but feel like my muse has fled. I don’t know what I want to do next. It’ll be still within my larger set of constants: outdoor, nature, wildlife, environment. But I don’t have a clue yet, which is why I signed up for this series.

  37. Bill Reeves

    I’m a real estate photographer and it’s fair to say I’m passionate about it. My focus in 2020 is to advance in PS and to add drone and video walk-threw to what I offer. That said, like so many others, I like a lot of different types of photography. Matt’s video this week has taken some of the pressure off my thinking that I should be doing this or that and feeling bad about not doing it. I’m focused. Thanks Matt.

  38. Leonard Kikstra

    While learning photography, I took a couple of courses at a local camera store, and even attended a few workshops. I also have a boatload of CD’s on photography that I review throughout the year, every year.

    Over the last 2 years, between late spring and late fall, I pushed myself to get out for the day and photograph something, usually something or somewhere I haven’t been before. I have seen much improvement in my photography by doing this, and it has been a truly enjoyable experience.

    I initially had thoughts on public or commercial event photography (no weddings), to support my hobby and pay for new gear. I even went to a few events just to get a feel for it, and take some pictures for myself.

    For no particular reason beyond wanting to continue enjoying photography, and probably because of my enjoyment in weekends out shooting, I am currently looking at traveling to and exploring National Parks and State Parks. While there, I would taking various photos under various conditions, and then finding ways I can make money from them.

    I photograph primarily for the enjoyment of being out, if I can make money to support my hobby, then so much the better.

  39. Christian Zuern

    At the moment what I enjoy most is street photography and available light portraits. I like, that with street you have to be alert and present in the moment, to notice and anticipate the unfolding stories infront of you, to frame them and even try to compose in a fraction of time. The portaits I take are done in a journalistic environment, not in studio sessions, decisions also have to be made quick. Lately I finally upgraded to a full frame camera, so in 2020 I have to find situations where I can make use of the new gear and justify the investment (-: and I hope I will still learn a bit or two from my little carry-around-at-all-the-time cam.
    Want to keep eyes and mind open (((-:

    • Justine

      I like your pics! I’m also a street photography fan. It’s much less predictable than some other genres, as you never know what’s going to happen out there. My portraits are also environmental portraits of people I come across when out and about, so depend on whether they give permission for a photo. I find my full-frame especially useful in situations where, for whatever reason, I am not raising my camera to eye level to shoot. It’s much, much harder to compose with the camera down, even using the LCD, so I shoot very wide angle, knowing that I can crop later if necessary.

      • Christian Zuern

        Thanks (((-:
        I looked into your selection and loved especially the bnw people shots!

      • Debora

        It’s good to hear that others don’t have a favorite genre to shoot. I’ve been shooting fireworks for the last five years. Other than that, I like to shoot when I’m on vacation … National parks, Europe and Africa. I love your courses.

  40. Glyn

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for the video it certainly did make me think. As I have listened to photographers quite often a passion they have outside of photography can lead to their photographic passion. For me I enjoy Australian rules football and I take my camera and its challenging but there are days I come away with some amazing shots.
    Also doing courses and workshops has fuelled by passion for long exposure photography e.g. water, lights etc. Which is the complete opposite to sports photography.

    I am involved in a camera club and what I do appreciate is it gives me the opportunity to try other forms of photography which confirms my interest or not in a style without any major cost.

  41. Gail

    Haven’t really thought about my focus. This has been good.
    As an amateur who has gone from film to digital my interest seem to be all over the place. Family pictures and landscapes being the biggest share of my pictures. Tried still life but didn’t have great natural light and didn’t have room to set up good lighting. Had to at least try it.

    At this point in my life landscape and nature photos are what I enjoy most. The thing I notice in pictures that thrill me most is the lighting and I would like to work on that aspect of my photography.

  42. Justine Kirby

    Great video. I have sometimes seen great photos from others, get tempted to try whatever sort of photography they do, and then remind myself that it just doesn’t fit with how I do photography. I’m a travel photographer, with most of my photography done when I’m on a trip. To me, “travel photography” is really an umbrella term for various types of photography done in different places, which differs from one travel photographer to another. Most of my photos fall into one of four categories:
    – landscape/architecture
    – street photography
    – portraits or
    – geometry (shapes and forms).

    The point about not doing what other people think you should be doing really resonated with me. Despite having traveled to more than half the countries in Africa, I’ve not yet done a safari trip. For many years, I was waiting until my photography improved and I had better gear. Those aren’t really the issues now. Rather, I’ve been expanding my repertoire and stepping up my game in the last 12-18 months on street, portrait and geometry shots. So I’m happy to stay on the learning curve and work on those for now. (As I often say to others, Africa is not just one big safari park!) In mapping out my remaining countries, I’m thinking about a safari trip maybe in 2023. Who knows – maybe I will love it and then do a lot more of them. But I’m fine to let things unfold at that pace rather than trying to jam-pack a lot of new stuff into a short amount of time and feel like I’m half-assing everything.

    PS: I sometimes get asked to take photos at events. While I will do it to help people out, I find that sort of photography – and especially the processing of those sorts of photos – very tedious, unlike the buzz I get from taking and processing my trip photos. But it’s a great lesson on how professional photography may not be a dream job if you’re making your money off a genre that’s different from what you really want to shoot.

    • Ann

      Thank you Justine, you truly summarized many of my thoughts on photography. Photographing when traveling is one of my greatest joys. It has always added so many different layers to the travel experience. Especially if you have the luxury of standing in place just waiting for the right subject to enter the frame or the lighting to change just the right amount.
      I also loved your comment : Africa is not just one big safari park! Several years ago, I was fortunate to go on Safari following Kilimanjaro. I know it was a privilege and I am grateful I was able to make the journey, but for my photography, going to the public markets there, was far more exciting on many levels. To photograph different cultures and environments has always been my favorite genre. Thanks again for your remarks.

  43. Terri

    Deciding what type of photography I prefer is like picking a major in college. I didn’t do that well, either, and bounced around a lot. Like others have said here, it’s more a matter of what I don’t like: studio photography.

  44. Silvina

    Thank you Matt! No need to fast forward 😀 I listen to your video like a podcast and is a huge inspiration.
    I love photography since I was a teenage. I felt in love with landscapes since then. But some years from now, I’m passionate about food photography. I still love landscape and cityscapes of course. This year I’m getting a new camera, a few lenses and a simple lighting set, and I’m taking action to start shooting.

    I love doing courses and workshops to learn new things in photography. I think this year I would like to do lighting and portrait courses (I’m not confortable at all photographing people, it’s gonna be a challenge).

    It was a long road to where I am, with insecurities, little chance of progress, no money for photography, doubts, denying my creative side… but now I feel more confident, I’m loving the results I’m getting and love learning every single day.
    This is a great fresh start!!!

    • Marla Henry

      Hi Matt. I started out shooting landscapes, then moved to wildlife, and outdoor portraits. I have discover, if I am shooting outside, it really doesn’t matter what it is, I enjoy it. However, there is one subject that gets me more excited than anything to shoot and that is waterfalls. I love the sound of the water rushing over the edge. I will hike miles to photograph a waterfall. When I travel, I search out waterfalls specifically to photograph. I am currently putting together a book on all the waterfalls I have photographed so far.

      • Mike Moffat

        Hey Matt
        I’m an avid photographer of birds man they can be tough to shoot. Every May the Migration across lake Erie is a thing to behold through Point Pelee. I always seem to learn something new every year and grab some new friends too. I love doing landscapes too. I have special reason this year. We are heading to BC Canada then up the coast to Alaska. The Rockies are God’s country. Then Alaska and over to Canada’s Yukon! Can’t wait!

        • H Killingbeck

          Mike – I agree with you. Would love to try and capture birds in Point Pelee… on my bucket list!

  45. Edna Barron

    I enjoyed the video. I am an amateur photographer. Although I did get paid once to photograph someone’s house with their Christmas lights on and design a Christmas card from the photo. I photograph most anything, but my favorite things to photograph are: the sky, trees, plants, birds, animals, my little dog, pretty landscapes (local), raindrops. I guess I would have to say that I am best of nature. I’m not looking to make money with this, just entertain myself. I do make a calendar every year using my photos, and I give these as gifts to my family and friends. Plus I print the appropriate pages on my blog every month. Sometimes I’ll take a favorite photo and have it printed on canvas and give it as a gift. I hope this gives you an idea of what type of photographer I am.

  46. Robin K Martin

    I’ve always loved photography. My dad was an avid photographer and my brother is pretty awesome. Mine not so much, mainly because I’m not particularly good with the digital cameras. I took better photographs with my film camera in the 70’s than I do today. Of course I’m a bit older as well and seem to have become a bit of a recluse. So I’m forcing myself to get out in the open and practice. I just feel very self-conscious when others are around. Is that impostor syndrome? lol

  47. Brenda A Cyr

    Hi Matt- thanks for the inspiration. I started out thinking I wanted to do landscapes, and I still enjoy that, but then I moved on to birds- I live in an area where the spring and fall migration brings a lot of variety, but many of the photographers around here are also ‘birders’ and have so much knowledge about the various birds, habits, best time to capture them, etc, that I would need years to measure up to them- so I just shoot for fun. Recently I have developed an interest in forest photography- in trying to figure out how to sort thru the maze of branches, limbs and tree trunks to display the beauty of a grouping of trees, or catch the sunlight peaking thru between branches- and eliminate the chaos that is frequently found in forests. I know it can be done- I have seen some fabulous photos of them. So that is my challenge for this year-to create a collection of beautiful forest pictures.

  48. Sharon Brownlow

    Great video!
    I love landscapes, most fun thing for me is getting up at some ungodly hour to shoot a sunrise. I like it best because it’s usually very quiet, few people, and you get to see the start of a new day. I love the mountains and the wild places so photography evolved from me trying to capture that emotion I get from being in such places. My problem is I live in the Northwest, the weather for 9 months of the year is terrible. So I get frustrated because I want to shoot, but it’s raining, drizzling, spitting, or shooting ice pellets at me. I’ve tried macro, it’s ok it’s something to do, I am trying to develop an eye for abstract which I really like and it’s something I can do on my own. I’m not really a people person but I do love animals and nature. I appreciate this video because I need to sort out the ideas in my head and focus on the one or two thing that get me excited.

  49. loretta frankin

    Hi Matt, I’ve been photographing for over 50 years, but it wasn’t until I started doing landscape (like many others) and wildlife and finding lessons and ideas on the internet, that I got the concept of improving my pictures! Since 2009, I’ve been going to the desert in South Africa whose landscape I love and getting lots of photos. But since I’ve stopped going, I’ve been in a slump. I live in an urban area and it takes effort to go to places I’d love to photograph. I managed to take your first course and NOT get started. This time it will work. One thing I have to overcome is not getting discouraged because I’m not getting feedback except from friends. BUT I’m afraid to put a photo out for critique!!! This is my current big hurdle and using this course to begin,

    • John Walton

      Hi Loretta,
      I read your post and certainly understand. I had a great photo gig for over three decades that took me to nearly 50 countries (11 in Africa) but recently was laid off. So I’m trying to find my “new niche”. Regarding critique, though, yes, it’s hard but “iron sharpens iron”. That’s how you grow. So I looked at your website and your portrait gallery. I loved the girl with the bubbles, & the girl with her hair blowing. But if I may suggest, concentrate on getting good sharp focus on the eyes. And remove the images that are out of focus. (You’ll still have plenty left). And show your best images first (one of your best is the last one in the gallery. Three on the sofa couch). Blessings on your photo journey.

      • loretta franklin

        Hi John, just saw this. Thanks for taking the time to look at my web site critique my photos. Really appreciate it and will (slowly) start looking at the photos. I’ve finally started having people look at pictures and realized that I’m not a very good judge of what photos a re appealing. In fact, the one you mentioned that’s at the end of the portraits is there because I wasn’t sure of it. Several people, including you, thought it was a great picture.

      • loretta franklin

        BTW, looked at your site and your pictures are just stunning!

  50. Lee Schilling

    Thanks for the talk. It was inspirational. Those who can follow their passion excel.
    Where in Costa Rico do you do workshops?

    • Matt

      Hi Lee. Check out mattk.com/costarica

  51. Julie Boyle

    Brilliant Matt1! I feel as if you have been inside my head. I needed this inspiration to get out there and concentrate more on what I like to shoot. I have several preferences but I think in 2020 I will cut down my list to just two preferences and concentrate on them. Thank you so much for your honesty and encouragement.

  52. Rick Decorie

    I’ve been shooting most of my live, starting with film cameras and eventually migrating to digital. I photographed all kinds of things, landscapes, family, weird and odd things, basically whatever struck my fancy. A few years ago I started shooting old barns and and other rural scenes. I found I really like photographing this kind of thing, and have stuck with it. Most of my work is in color, but sometimes I convert my images to black and white (old barn doors are good subjects).
    I am going on a barn photography workshop next weekend. I hope to meet some like-minded photographers, and perhaps compare notes. This will keep the flame burning I have for this genre of photography.
    Thanks Matt for these videos.

  53. James Saxon

    I love photographing birds, landscapes, macro, cars, motorcycles, really almost anything but do not like photographing people. As you said it just does not do it for me. I try to push myself and strenghten my weaknesses such as flash and post processing. I love pushing the photography into the “artist” realm and my photos may not look like the scene that was in front of me at the time. I use Topaz, Nik and other programs. I found that I love attending workshops to meet new people and make new friends with a common interest. Photography for me is a hobby that allows me to continue to learn a skill set, mingle with others and travel. Last year was a year to soul search, like you said in the video to see what I really wanted to accomplish. I think I found it. Thanks

  54. Colin Bent

    I am more certain of what I don’t enjoy doing and that portraiture. I love travel, landscape, wildlife and street photography and any one can excite me. One thing I know I detest is posing people and rearranging lights. I hope that I can travel more this year and depending upon what my old body will allow, getting out and doing some birds in flight.

  55. Jeff Ross

    Good video Matt:

    I guess I would have to say my passion is landscapes/nature which is what brought me to YOU! (Lucky me!) I also enjoy using photography for story telling such as our trip to Spain and Portugal. I am a retired teacher and school administrator so teaching was always part of my DNA. You can see what I mean – here is the link to my Spain and Portugal Blog Posts – https://jbrish.com/extras/portspain/

    Thanks for the inspiration Matt (and others)

    • Guido

      Great series of pictures from Portugal and Spain. Nicely structured.
      I’ll come back to these when I plan my next trip to Spain and Portugal. You found some places I’ve missed
      Your series of the Alcázar in Seville is surprisingly empty of people, how did you manage? Bought all tickets for the whole two hours? But the pictures are so great. I could not but go back again and again to look at more. .

  56. Edward Eastman

    Matt, great lesson. I’ve decided to start working on some B&W food photography and maybe some flowers a la Mapplethorpe and Weston.

    Thanks so much for the inspirational nudge.

  57. Trey Foerster

    1. Master luminosity masking in 2020.
    2. Shoot something that I’m not comfortable with.
    3. Travel to the Lake Michigan shoreline.
    4. Travel to some cities to do cityscapes.
    5. Do old growth woodlands in Wisconsin.

  58. Jutta Dayle

    Hi Matt. Thank you for the course and the encouragements. I have been a hobby photographer since I was 18, a long time ago. My focus has always been landscapes, plants and flowers. I never had any interest in photographing people or cities. When I moved to North America I fell in love with wildlife. The problem was and still is that I don’t live in an area where wildlife is easily available. This means that I have to travel to follow my passion of wildlife photography. I have the time now since I am retired but not the money. Anyway, if I cannot do wildlife, then I do landscapes at home or flowers and plants in my garden and neighborhood. When I switched to digital photography I decided to have one goal: I do not want to be a professional photographer but I do want to produce professional looking photographs. Well, easier said than done and I am still working on it. In contrast to so many other tutorials/courses, I find your courses truly helpful because they give lots of useful information rather than being stuck on technical details. In books on digital photography, many are lacking the creative aspects too. Thank you again!

  59. John

    Thanks Matt! I’ve really been enjoying the self-reflection perspective of this experience thus far.

    I’ve always been very organized with my images and one of the initial biggest draws for me to LR was the catalog system for storing images and then, of course, the processing capabilities as LR has evolved over the years. Your suggestions for creating playlists in YouTube was excellent and I’m going to do that as a means of organizing all of the various videos I use for different tasks.

    While I do have multiple interests with my photography, my landscape photography, my landscape photography workshops, and my sports photography are where my primary passions lie, and these are the areas where I keep my car parked most of the time now. Your share today suddenly gave me permission to set aside a few things I really don’t want to be doing any more.

  60. Pete

    I’ve been involved in some aspect of photography for 60 years beginning with shooting developing and printing B&W; onto travel while in the Navy; then documenting growing family; and now focused on nature, wildlife, Lunar nights, and special events. I’m now involved with a 55+ community photo club where I teach different aspects of photography. I attempt to attend all of the club’s photo excursion trips which stimulates other minor interests for me as well as providing guidance if requested.

    • Julie Picardi

      Hi Matt, I am fortunate to have a spouse who loves wildlife photography as much as I do. We travel often, must of the time on our own to keep expenses down. About once a year we take the financial plunge for a photography workshop. Living in CO affords us the ability to shoot wild things not too far from home, but we enjoy going to AK and have now fallen in love with Africa.

      I’m happiest when I’m outside with the wildlife whether it’s shooting, observing, or studying their behavior.

      As a professional I shoot a few family portraits just for egg money, but when I’m out in the wild, I’m nurturing my soul.

      My goal: to improve my wildlife photography skills for the WOW factor and use as little software as possible.

      My 2 favorite lenses are the Nikon 80-400 and the Nikon 500, f/5.6, both of which, as far as long lenses go, are reasonably priced.

      • Terrie Gray

        Hey, Julie — I just got the Nikon 500 pf 5.6 too. I think it is nice and sharp, but slow on autofocus. Do you agree or have a different experience? I do like that I can use it hand-held, although it can get fatiguing holding the lens up for several minutes while waiting for an eagle to fly from its roost. It seems as though as soon as I put the lens down, the bird takes off! 😉

        • Julie Picardi

          Hi Terrie! – I love the 500 lens. I think the images are tons better than what I was getting with the Nikon 200-500 and even the 80-400, although it’s nice to have the zoom capability the 80-400 offers. I sold the 200-500 b/c I couldn’t hold it, and using a tripod with birds and wild animals is just about impossible. Yes, sometimes the autofocus is a tad slow, and holding even this lens becomes tiring, but nothing in this world is perfect so I just chalk it up to a couple of negatives. People are raving about the autofocus in the new mirrorless Sony, but we have so much invested in our photo gear for 2, switching is not an option at this point, so I just deal with it. The images that I am able to produce, I’m quite happy with. I photograph a few birds, but as you say, they are difficult clients…lol.

  61. Marcia Goldsmith

    Thanks Matt for saying out loud what I am trying to get a handle on. Yes last year was a bummer. I want to go back to being excited. I live on the east coast of Florida and feel I have shot (with camera) about every bird I want to shoot. Only so many times to the Alligator farm and wetlands. I don’t have the ultra equipment to go further with that. What I love about Photography is light and color. How does one focus on that or say I will try shooting this today. I need to get inspiration from the light but am in a fog on how to move forward.
    I love to post process as much as shoot but you need a good picture to do that. Have not been on my website in a long time

  62. Dave Burke

    Last year I concentrated on close-up and macro photography with some success. I would like to do some bird photography but don’t have a lense longer than 300 F4, so it can be challenging to get close enough. Thanks for the inspiring video, I really enjoy your teaching style.

  63. James K

    I love shooting landscapes but I’m not in a position to travel to all the great places in North America or the rest of the world. I’m always trying to find interesting places in my area that are easy to travel to but it is hard to find great interesting places. Because of this I also have been in a slump especially now that it is winter (I’m in the Great Lakes area). I’d love to shoot street but need training on that – how to handle people, etc.

    I loved Fresh Start 1.0 last year (still reviewing some of the videos) and am looking forward to Fresh Start V2.0!

    • Edward Eastman

      James, I’m wondering where in the Great Lakes you live? (I live in the Golden Horseshoe area.)

      I’ve been capturing street photography for about 4-5 years now – along with other genres. You can look at my instagram page here and see what you think. https://www.instagram.com/amindseyephotography/?hl=en

      If you like what you see and want to chat, I’d love to email/chat with you about my approach to shooting and post processing. Street photography is not that hard and it’s a whole load of fun!!

  64. Anne Sandler

    I love the challenge of macro and building/structure photography. I also shoot landscape, and would like to get better at street photography. I stay away from portrait and event photography. I enjoy wildlife photography occasionally because I find my gear is not the best for this. But sometimes I do get a photo that I think is wonderful. I do find age and physical ability is the greatest obstacle I face. I keep saying that I should have started photography 20 years before I did at 70 years.

    • Edward Eastman

      Anne, I’m 73 and shoot street photography – among other genres. One of the great things about street photography is you can wait for the “street” to come to you. I’f you live near, or in, a semi-large city where there is some hustle and bustle of people and traffic, you can stand at a corner with your camera and wait. Then just observe the people walking by for a while. Sooner or later, you’ll become part of the “street” and people will not notice you. That’s when you can start taking pictures.

      Here’s my instagram page https://www.instagram.com/amindseyephotography/?hl=en

      If you like what you see, I’d love to email/chat about Street Photography.

      • Julie Picardi

        Hi Edward, I enjoyed viewing your Instagram page. I like street photography, especially when I’m traveling, but I often feel like I’m invading privacy when I do this. Do you get permission from people when you photograph them? I’m curious about the “rules” of street photography. I’d like to do more, but I want to be correct in etiquette. What are your thoughts?

  65. Paul Sarisky

    Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. I’m interested in capturing natural beauty whenever I come across it. I enjoy landscape and bird photography, but don’t often travel outside my local area in search of those great shots. Because I love gardening, I have instead focused on growing and photographing beautiful plants and flowers, arranging them in shots that are unique. I would like to travel around a bit more (perhaps New Zealand) but in the meantime north western New Jersey is where I spend most of my time. Your frank discussion made me realize that I’m happy with what I do, and striving to be more artistic and creative is where I want to go. Thanks..

    • Justine Kirby

      As a New Zealander, I say what a great choice of preferred destination! Air New Zealand is starting a nonstop Newark to Auckland route in October, so it will be easier for those of us in the US Northeast to get there. (I live in New York.)

      • Paul Sarisky

        Thanks for the tip. Will have to see if I can get my wife interested. Would be a dream come true for me.

  66. Roger

    I was in the doldrums a year or so ago, so I went through all my old prints going back to the 1980s and very quickly split them into two piles, great and not so great. Then I took the “greats” and did it again, and again, until I had about 20 prints which I studied. 70% of them were graphic black and white architectural shots which I haven’t tried for ages. So this became my current (though not exclusive) focus and I have been producing some very satisfactory images (at least, I think so) some of which have been successful at club level and exhibitions acceptances.

  67. Mary C

    Thanks for this, Matt, and for the honesty of your experience.
    I must admit that I don’t seem to be able to get myself motivated of late, but am working to change that. I think I do have some idea of what excites me in terms of actually taking photos and I really love working with post-processing (probably more than I like shooting :-). My issue stems from a lack of sufficient time to do both and learn and grow to be better at both.
    I’ll be interested to see if I can move both a little further along every month by setting aside a specific amount of time each day and actually doing either shooting, post-processing or both.
    Thanks, again, for the inspiration and little nudge towards a more productive direction.

  68. Erich Rau

    Interestingly, I’ve recently had a similar experience. I am primarily interested in landscape photography, and being recently retired I have been able to increase the number of workshops I go on from 1-2 a year to 4-5 a year. I feel that I have finally gotten experienced enough that I actually take fewer shots but am generally happier with more of them. Still a lot to learn and get better at, but at least some level of comfort and patience. Last fall I was on a workshop in Glacier NP and on our last day, and towards the end of the morning, we were leaving the Many Glacier area when our instructor saw that the moose that we had previously seen in the distance, had come up to the end of the lake where the road to exit was. We stopped to photograph, and I found myself blasting away on continuous hi speed hoping to get just a couple of good images. No patience, and only a bit of the careful consideration that I give my landscape shots – just excitement at being close enough to actually (reasonably) fill the frame with a wild moose! 🙂 So now I’m contemplating the need for a longer reach lens (I was using a 100-400) and adding wildlife photography to go with my landscape interests. It is after all – a reasonably expensive hobby 🙂

    • Matt

      Wildlife is definitely a more expensive hobby than landscapes. Landscapes you can get away with the cheapest of lenses and never need the fast f/2.8 ones. Wildlife however is one of those areas where gear does matter. That said, a 100-400 is a great lens. Only reason you’d need something better would be if you want to capture action in low light (birds flying). Having a f/2.8 lens and a good full frame camera that performs well at high ISO can be a big game chanter in that situation.

  69. Shelley Marshall

    Thanks Matt. Great video and appreciate the insight. I hope to get out there more this year for sure and build on the skills.

  70. Vincent

    Hi Matt. I have done the same thing trying to do everything , but now I will take my Wildlife first and some Landscapes

    • Omar Martimez

      I started going to school in early 2000’s in hope to become a photojournalist but I lacked the support and had to drop out. Photography was put on hold for long time but always did my best with what I had (cell phones) because a DSLR wasn’t affordable for me. My wife gifted me my first DSLR camera in 2017, and since then I have been catching up with my photography. Ups and downs and side to side I have tried a lot of things and discovered that studio or portrait photography wasn’t for me. Have always been excited about night and long exposure photography, so stuck to that for some time. In summer 2019 while doing a time lapse session close to home, I crossed eye sight with a Hawk and started having the sweats. Do I stop the time lapse to get the bird? Leave it alone?… stopped the camera I grabbed the crappy long lens that came with my Canon Rebel kit and took the best crappy photos that I could with it. I didn’t have any idea on how to photograph this subject. I liked and had an interest for birds of prey but never tried to photograph one before. That prompted me to get better at it, have been updating my gear around this. I’m in the process to become better at it, have had few decent shots. My wife and kids are starting to think I’m crazy….I’m loving it and I’ll be sharing with you some shots soon. Thanks Matt! you have made an impact and by the way loved the Crested Caracara photo you showed in a recent video. I plan on going on missions to get some shots of Caracaras myself. I’m in Miami, so it’s just a drive away. Thank you again and will look forward and take advantage of this fresh start.


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