Why you should set photography goals and how to do so

  • photo of sisters smelling flowers by Kristy Dooley

Why you should set photography goals and how to do so

Setting goals is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, tools for growth.

As photographers and business owners, setting goals, can help keep you on track, focused, and heading in the direction you want to go.

It’s been said many times before, and it’s true, “those without goals drift.”

1. Make the time

For years, I put goal writing off. I read all about the importance of it, heard people raving about the benefits, and I just didn’t see the point. I knew in my mind what I was working towards, and that was good enough for me. It turns out, I was wrong. There is a huge difference between goals that are in your mind and goals that have been defined and written down. I challenge all of you who want to grow (either personally or professionally) to schedule 30 minutes with yourself in the next week. Grab a notebook, and answer the following questions:

  1. What is my biggest goal for 2016?
  2. What am I willing to do to achieve this goal?
  3. How will accomplishing this goal make me feel?
  4. Why is this important?

Feel free to brainstorm further: places you’d like to travel, growth for your business, a skill you’d like to master, a workshop you’d like to attend, a lens you’d like to purchase, etc. Once you’ve taken the time to do this, spend a few minutes turning your thoughts into a short paragraph. It should be written in the present tense, stating what you plan to accomplish.

picture of a girl riding a zebra on a carosuel by Kristy Dooley

2. Keep it simple

The SMART acronym is often used for goal setting:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

Here are some great hypothetical examples:

  1. By the end of 2016 I will have mastered manual exposure. I have taken two workshops, and am putting together a strong portfolio of work. I have completed my first daily shooting project, and am excited by the progress I can see in my work, and the memories I’ve created for my family.
  2. By the end of 2016, I will have increased my business by 50% over last year. My clients are thrilled with my work, and I strive to make the process of working with me as seamless as possible. I’ve regularly receiving as many bookings as I want, and I have continued to make my personal work a regular part of my life.

3. Share them

Accountability is everything. Choose a friend, co-worker or family member with whom you feel comfortable sharing your goals. By sharing your goals with someone else, you’re much more likely to hold yourself accountable. If you like, you can even ask this individual to help hold you accountable.

4. Write them down

It may seem tedious at times, but I am a firm believer in writing your goals down daily. The habit of rewriting what is important to you will keep you focused on the end result and keep you from getting caught in any challenges or negativity that come up along the way. Buy yourself a specific notebook (treat yourself to something special for this!) and re-write your goal paragraph daily. If you find that this makes you want to fine-tune and re-write it, that’s even better!

black and white photo of sisters drinking juice by Kristy Dooley

5. Assess

Check in at the end of every month. What progress have you made towards your goal? What could you improve on next month? These goals are not set in stone – they have to be realistic and meaningful to you. If you need to change them, then by all means, do!

6. Enjoy the process

I can’t tell you how many goals I’ve accomplished that I’ve regularly put into writing. I don’t share that to sound obnoxious, but to hopefully prove to you that it’s a worthwhile habit. Focus on where you want to go, what you want to learn, and who you want to be – it’s all within your reach!

About the Author:

Kristy Dooley lives in Vermont with her husband and two daughters. She shoots natural light photography with a passion for macro, portraits, and lifestyle images. She loves focusing on and capturing the details of her family’s daily life and has recently started accepting clients for on-location sessions. Visit Kristy Dooley online.


  1. Jamie bates Jun 18 2016 at 9:50 pm - Reply

    Such great advice! I did this in my head for last year and it was helpful but wrote it down this year and you are so right, it makes a difference. Next year will work on really fleshing it out with your SMART tips. Thanks, Kristy!

  2. Kristy Dooley Jun 19 2016 at 8:58 am - Reply

    I’m so glad it was helpful Jamie!!

  3. Great advice, I myself have heard so many people talk about the importance of writing down goals, but have never gotten down to it myself. Now I am starting to see that perhaps it is better to set that half and hour aside like you suggested! Great advice and great pictures as well!

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