Here are some ideas for New Year’s resolutions to refresh and enliven your photography.

Try something NEW

Experiment with unfamiliar genres. If you normally shoot fine art landscapes, try still life. If you are a sports shooter who is interested in making artistic images, try landscapes. Get outside of your “comfort zone” and attempt something fresh.

Upgrade to a digital SLR

I know, this isn’t really a philosophical “turn over a new leaf” resolution, but maybe this year is the year to step up to a digital SLR camera and really take your photography to the next level. Here are my digital SLR recommendations for first-time owners in 2008:

(In in the interest of full disclosure, I do get a small kickback from B&H if you order any of those products through the links on this page. So, please do!)

The Nikon D40 is a solid 6.1 megapixel SLR that B&H sells in three different kits, one with the 18-55mm lens, one with the 18-135mm lens, and one with both the 18-55mm lens as well as 55-200mm lens. The D40 is a solidly built camera with all the features one would need to start learning about the fundamentals of photography and is no slouch in image quality, either. The D40 comes in your choice of a black or silver plastic body (internals and lens mounts are, of course, made of metal).

A step up in price from the Nikon D40 is the Canon Digital Rebel XTi (or 400D for those not in the States). Aside from the bonus of being able to choose from any of Canon’s world-class EF lenses, you get a solid 10.1 megapixel sensor and essentially the same software features (save for a few) that Canon’s higher-end cameras have. The Rebel XTi comes in your choice of a silver or black plastic body (internals and lens mounts are, as above, made of metal).

Yet more expensive is the Nikon D80, a true workhorse in this price range, and a camera that will carry you years into the future with its exceptional array of features and its high image quality. Also 10 megapixels, what the D80 brings to the table is not higher resolution, but simply better features.

I encourage anyone interested in getting into the SLR marketplace to carefully scrutinize Digital Photography Review, the award-winning camera review site for feature comparisons and informed opinions.

Take a class

PC World suggests, in an article titled New Year’s Resolutions that taking a class is a fun and exciting way to turn over a new leaf with your digital camera.

Photojojo also suggested taking a class in their recent post 19 New Year’s Photo Resolutions — Goodbye 2007, Hello Two Thousand and Awesome!

Coincidentally I will be an instructor on several art photography workshops this coming year, first in Death Valley National Park (California), then Chicago, of course the Great Smoky Mountains (Tennessee/North Carolina), and finally Acadia National Park in Maine. I’m also teaching a beginning-level three-day course on digital workflow out in Santa Cruz, California (a great place to be no matter what the season) in July.

There are plenty of spots available in all workshops at the moment, so don’t hesitate to reserve yours now!

Read all about the workshops and register on our website, Art Photo Workshops

Take more photographs

The best and fastest way to get better at photography is to take more photographs. I have personally resolved to make 2008 a very productive year of photography and to be more diligent in my experimentation (which was the purpose for creating this blog in the first place those years ago).

So from me to you, my wonderful readers, HAPPY NEW YEAR!