There are two phrases which I'm struggling to get out of my head recently. #NeverStopExploring

"To be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff"

The second of of these statements comes from National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson.

It is at the end of each year that we naturally look back at the previous 12 months, as well as looking forward to what the following year may bring. As I look back at my body of work from 2014 I ask myself have I improved as a photographer? I try and pick out, what I feel, is my best work. Have I managed to get 12 images in the past 12 months which I would be happy to add to my portfolio - that body of work which represents, what I feel, are my highest quality images?

Good Drying Weather

Sadly, this year, I have to say no. I don't think I've added anywhere near the 12 images which I can, hand on heart, say would make it into that collection. Sure there have been a few moments which have been very pleasing over the past year including Water Voles, Barn Owls and of course a wonderful trip to South Africa. I still however feel that my most recent images, when I come to review them, leave me feeling flat, especially when compared to others out there who inspire me.

Another worrying fact that perhaps backs up my feeling is that from out of my five most popular images on 500px (normally a reasonably good marker to how they may stand the test of time) only one has been taken in the past 12 months, with 3 of them coming from before 2010.

A Day at the Beach

And what about that first statement, #NeverStopExploring. Well as much as I love to shoot both landscape and wildlife on my doorstep (#MyLocalPatch) I know that I need to get outside of my comfort zone a little more - to explore more, much much more.

I already know that the year ahead will bring quite a few new challenges (more on that in time), but I'm determined to use these two statements to drive me forward. They are going to become my mantra as I head into 2015. To ensure that I don't stop exploring and in doing so making sure that I put myself in front of many more interesting things to shoot.

Walkies

Of course it would be nice, come the end of 2015 when I'm doing a similar look back / look forward, that I can add a few additional images to my portfolio, but this won't be what will have pleased me most. No. It will instead be when I repeat those above two statements to myself can I, hand on heart, say that YES, I didn't stop exploring and in doing so put myself in front of much more interesting things.

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