1 - Introduction
As the new year gets under way, it is important to take stock and celebrate your achievements for the previous year. I do that every year by making a list of everything I have done. It’s also fun to look back and read the account for past years as well.

To this end I encourage you to count your accomplishments for 2010. Write down everything you achieved in 2010. Below is an inventory of questions to get you started. In 2010 . . .

Study, Personal Growth and Achievements:
- What medium or skill did you attempt or master?
- What did you try that was completely new?
- What did you try that was uncomfortable but helped you grow?
- What new art events, galleries, and museums did you visit?
- What new equipment (camera, lenses, computer, software, etc.) did you get?
- What resources did you discover or master?
- How did you improve your studio habits?
- What books did you read to learn new skills?
- What videos or films did you watch and found useful?
- What seminars, workshops or lectures did you attend?
- Did you improve your office or studio environment?
- Did you meet important or influencial people who changed how you look at photography?
- Did you ask someone for help?
- Which projects did you complete?
------>Folios, portfolios, shows, website design, blog, artist statement, photography trips, etc.
- Did you exhibit your work?
- If yes, where did you exhibit it?
- Did you have articles written about your work or were you interviewed by someone?
- Did you receive awards?
- Overall, what was the single best thing that happened to your photography career in 2010?

If you sell your work, here is an additional checklist that focuses on marketing:
- How did you promote your art?
- What did you do to enhance your online presence?
- What technological skills did you learn or improve?
- How many people did you add to your mailing list?
- How many Twitter followers or Facebook fans did you add?
- What new marketing material did you create and use?
- Where did you sell your work?
- Are you satisfied with your business income for the year?
- Overall, what was the single best thing that happened to your business?

2 – Gratitude

Let’s be grateful for those who give us happiness;
they are the charming gardeners who make our soul bloom.

Marcel Proust

When making the lists above you may have realized that a lot remains to be done. If so, don’t allow yourself to be discouraged by all that remains undone. Just continue doing your best. Every step counts. Most importantly, congratulate yourself! Be grateful for what you accomplished, for everything you learned, for the people you met and for the new experiences that you had.

Gratitude is better than depression.  Being grateful is an optimistic state of mind, while depression is a pessimistic state of mind. Today, because of the recession and other ongoing issues, many feel depressed and beat down.  Thinking of what you can be grateful for is an effective way to combat depression. 

Gratitude generates action, while depression generates inaction.  Action leads to finding solutions and to feeling better about yourself.  Simply making the decision to act, to move around and to start looking for solutions is enough to lift your spirits.  On the other hand, staying in one place, not moving, thinking there is no way out, will keep your mind "in the dark” so to speak. Taking action, and being grateful, goes a long ways towards making you feel uplifted and positive.

3 - Perseverance
It takes great time and effort to create world-class photographs. When I started photography my results were far from being what they are today. In fact, my first photographs were quite disappointing, even though I had great expectation for them. Until I had the film developed that is. It was then, by looking at my negatives, that I realized that I had a very long way to go.

Only through regular study and constant practice was I able to achieve results that were satisfying to me. But again, my satisfaction lasted only until I opened a coffee table book by some of my favorite photographers and saw how much further I really had to go. For a long time, doing photography was a humbling experience, one that constantly reminded me that I had to continue working hard to achieve results comparable to those of the photographers I admired.

While I am now able to create images that I am proud of, I still work extremely hard at what I do. I continue to study regularly with other photographers. Over the past few years I have studied with Joseph Holmes, Michael Reichmann, Charles Cramer, Tony Sweet, Mac Holbert and other photographers and artists. Even though today I am able to create images that satisfy me, I do not assume that I know everything or that my way is the only way. Constant study and practice, and yes, perseverance, are the keys to success.

Don't give up, no matter how difficult the challenge might seem. You are most likely much closer to succeeding than you think. Often, it is this last final push that is the hardest. But if you do give this final push, you will find out that the rewards greatly outdo the hardships you had to go through.

Alain Briot
Vistancia, Arizona
January 2011

Essay and photographs Copyright © Alain Briot 2011
All rights reserved worldwide