In this image, the lady pointing out a great shot to her friend in the background is my favourite. That's what you want from your accountability partner - support and encouragement.
If you're about to start A Year With My Camera, you're probably very excited and can't wait to get going. You've got your batteries charged, memory cards formatted, and are ready to get off auto mode.
You might have been here before with another photography course or another creative adventure. What happened after 8 weeks?
Do you need AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER?
A creative accountability partner is the person who shares your high points, and makes you keep going when you hit the 8-week low.
They will scream with delight with you when you finally understand what aperture does.
They will hold your hand while you try and remember whether a big aperture gives a small depth of field or the other way round.
They will rejoice when you take a photo you're proud of, and commiserate when the muse has left you.
And when you get to 7 or 8 weeks in and have lost your start-up enthusiasm, they will remind you why you both wanted to do the course in the first place, point out exciting times ahead, and make you look back and see how far you've come.
And you will do the same for them. This is a partnership, not a coaching or mentoring relationship. You each give and take the same amount. And you each grow faster and travel further together than you would apart.
How to work in an accountability partnership
1. Define your goals
A Year With My Camera is a big commitment broken up into manageable smaller commitments, so your goals should reflect this.
Split your goals up into short and long term. A simple, achievable short term goal would be to open and read every email of the first Get Off Auto course. Or do the first homework within 3 days. Or finish the first Get Off Auto module without getting behind.
Longer term goals might be to remember always only to compare yourself to the photographer you used to be. Or to be mindful every week and reflect on your progress. Maybe you want to finally take a photo you're proud of, or shoot off auto without checking the manual or the lessons.
2. Check in
Decide between you how you will check that you've met your goals. Will you do each week's projects together? Send your photos to each other? Share your photos online and tag each other?
If possible schedule a short weekly check in to confirm you've each opened the email and done the homework. And then try to meet if possible once a month or so, to ask each other what you have enjoyed, what you didn't enjoy, what you don't understand (and how you are going to fix that), and what you are looking forward to. Share your successes.
3. Set consequences
Positive consequences might be buying yourself a treat if you finish the first 6 weeks (eg. new kit, the workbook, cake), or going on a celebratory photo day.
Negative consequences range from the fact you've let yourself down and you've let your partner down, to using something like Stickk (created by behavioural economists) to trigger a donation to a cause you hate.
Agree up front what the other person can say if you fall behind. You both need to be able to be honest with each other. Don't forget that at the end of the day the responsibility to meet your goals is yours.
4. Make the next plan
Once you've finished the first module, review the first 6 weeks and make a plan for the next module.
Who makes a good accountability partner?
Unusually, you might consider someone with a different personality to you - you'll each bring something different to the partnership
Have you got a friend, relative or camera club associate who might like to team up? Have you met someone on Instagram or Facebook doing the course already that you could ask if they're interested?
And for A Year With My Camera you both need to be doing the course. There are certain things you need to remember, and particular ways of learning that are unique to AYWMC. It helps if you are both on the same page. Send your partner to AYearWithMyCamera.com to register, or just forward them this page and they can sign up right here:
What is A Year With My Camera?
It's a free, online, beginner's photography workshop delivered via weekly email. Join here: