Monday, July 1, 2013

Goals & My Year in Review

I wrote the blog post below with the intention of sharing it in January, but low and behold life happens and never got around to finishing this until now.
Hi, I'm back for another contribution to the LUCIMA blog!

At the start of a new year I like to look back, revisit where I've been and what I've done.  I'm constantly pushing myself to new heights and levels. I don't want to be at a point where I'm complacent with my work. I like to set goals for myself.  Goals that are attainable, but still tough enough that I have to work for it.

I'm going to bring it back to 2011 to set the tone with how my 2012 went.  I'll make some references to 2011 so bare with me.

Back in December 2011 I was talking with my wife about goals to set out for the new year.  The conversation went something like this "I want to get published in another print magazine, become an agency approved photographer for X and Y agencies and start shooting video with a DSLR."  To me those were some lofty goals.

My 2012 started by having lunch with Charles.  During lunch we got caught up with each others current projects and basically talked shop.  We talked about all things photography related from business to marketing to video.  By the time lunch was over, Charles wished that he recorded our talk because everything we covered is what he teaches in his Master Photography class at the New York Film Academy (Universal Studios campus).

A few days later, LUCIMA Podcast was born.  We were podcasting about everything from gear to social media and sharing our experiences as fashion photographers.  In regards to photography podcasts there are so many on the mechanics of photography like gear talk and lighting theory, however I haven't come across one that covers fashion photography.  In our podcast, Charles and I chat about all things fashion, editorial, beauty and retouching.

Another thing Charles and I talked over lunch was about marketing and our strategies as fashion photographers.  Marketing is such a broad topic and just me recapping it for this blog post makes me tired.  But one thing that I want to highlight is Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  This wasn't our strong point and we both lacked in that area.  Heck we knew about SEO, but didn't make use of it.  Basically we were leaving potential clients on the table by not implementing SEO.

We googled specific key words to discover that Charles and I were no where close to being on the first page of results.  At that point we heavily worked on SEO.  We started to see the fruits of our labor.  Each week I would check how much our google results would climb towards the first page and eventually close in on being within the top 3 results on the first page.  This was all done organically without having to pay Google a cent.

In October 2012, NYLON magazine contacted me to shoot an upcoming story for their annual America issue. The story was on street style in the North Park area.  This particular area of San Diego was recently ranked in the top 20 as one of America’s Best Hipster Neighborhoods by Forbes Magazine.  The idea of the shoot was to capture the street style of this neighborhood.  This was relatively a straight forward assignment, meet the models at a particular time and snap their pics in street style fashion.  Check it out in their November 2012 issue.

NYLON - November 2012

I've been grateful for the work and opportunities that have come my way.  At times I wonder how my clients find me.  Shooting for NYLON was one of those times that just blows my mind.  I don't cold call looking for jobs so how do these come opportunities come up?  The booking editor at NYLON did mention that her colleague came across my work, but other than I couldn't figure it out.  The most logical reason would of been through Google.  If it wasn't for using SEO to its potential I don't think that I would of gotten leads such as this.  Cause I'm pretty sure that I don't have any facebook friends that work for NYLON.

So lets circle back to that lunch I was having with Charles at the beginning of 2012.

One of the projects I finished assisting Charles with was the "Lost" fashion film.  During our lunch we talked and recapped of that day.  That day was definitely a learning experience as it opened my eyes to every single detail that is involved in a production like that.  After that day of filming I figured that now is better than never so its my turn to give it a go.

Video was like a foreign language to me.  I understand simple concepts, but when it came down to the meat and potatoes I got lost.  I've always wanted to give a try at DSLR video, but never manned up to do so.  I've been scared of failing horribly at it.  Figured I'll never know unless I try it.  So I called up some friends and decided to jump into the deep end of the pool.  It was either sink or swim.

Shooting video is much harder than I originally thought, actually the shooting process was the easy part.  Its the editing process that exposed my faults and any missed shots during the filming stages.  If it wasn't for the editing it wouldn't allow me to learn and grow from my first video to my next one.

"Plan B" by Rodney Alan

After the 2 videos I'm stoked on how receptive they've been on my Vimeo channel. I didn't create videos in hopes that it will receive 100K likes or views. It all started out of curiosity.  A few months later I was approached by a international TV station to broadcast my videos.  Who would of know that my first attempts were good enough for international broadcast.  Now that my curiosity into the video realm has been satisfied I'm in the process of editing my 3rd video.  So stay tuned for that!

So lets circle back to that conversation I had with my wife about my goals for 2012.  I set out to get another print publication and shoot video with a DSLR.  Done and done.  The remaining goal was to test with new agencies.

For most of 2010 and 2011 I tested with one boutique agency in LA.  Through that relationship it blossomed to direct bookings from other LA agency models.  After shooting those models outside of their agency, I received an email from one of their bookers wanting to work with me on a regular basis.  After shooting a few models from "X" agency, one of those models happened to be represented with an agency in San Diego.  That in turn lead to another relationship with "Y" agency.   

So thats some of the highlights of my 2012 journey.  As I think and look back on that year one thing that I consistently did was shoot and shoot some more.  I shot for myself, but I didn't shoot just to shoot.  Every time I had goal/challenge in mind.  The goal wasn't anything big, something insignificant like shooting an entire day at 35mm.  Some of those things were not directly meant to meet the 2012 goals, but in the end they contributed to making this my best year yet.  

While we are half way through 2013 its a good time to look back to see where I'm at and if I've accomplished my current goals.  And if I'm no where close then its time to reevaluate my plan and take action.  

Keep in mind that a goal without a plan is just a wish.  

-Rodney Alan


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