With the beginning of a new year, many people around the world take time to reflect on the past year and set goals or resolutions for the upcoming year.
A 365 project is an important commitment that will make an immediate and lasting impact in your photography. While the idea of daily photography sounds deceptively simple, such a project will push and stretch you, and your photography.
There are many different online communities that support 365 projects including 365 Project, Capture Your 365, and many, many 365-themed groups on Flickr and Google+. Joining a community will help you in your 365 journey by providing encouragement and accountability. You will also find many ideas, challenges, themes, and examples for inspiration and motivation.
Why Do a 365 Project?
These “365” projects are all about using your creative eye constantly and capturing even the most mundane subjects or situations in hopes of developing your skills and creative capability.
If you truly want to improve your photography and push yourself, then you need to be using your camera, often! Accepting the challenge of using your camera everyday will help make photography a commitment and even a habit for you.
Using your camera every day will also open your eyes to the photographic possibilities that abound in your everyday life. I find myself noticing so much more now that I would have just passed by without comment before: the way the shadows on the wall change with the hours, or the tiny details of fallen pollen on the inside of a flower. Daily photography has made me keenly aware of the passing of the seasons and the small differences in each day.
Daily photography will push you out of your comfort zone and force you to engage with other types and styles of photography. You may love shooting macro (close-up) shots of insects, but will now have to deal with rainy days and changing seasons. You may love shooting portraits of people but will need to find new ways and places for finding willing subjects. Whatever photography you ‘do’ now, you will find yourself in situations or late nights when you simply must find something to photograph. You may find that these more desperate times led to your most productive photographic ideas and images.
Daily photography will also help you better plan your day or your time. I have found that waking up fifteen minutes earlier allows me to leave the house earlier in the morning, to spend those fifteen minutes taking a photography break along my commute. Watching the sun rise over one of the many lakes in town is an amazing joy and privilege, but it is a commitment I would never had made on my own, without 365.
TIPS FOR COMPLETING A 365 PROJECT
1. Bring Your Camera Everywhere
Yes, everywhere. Get in the habit. Grocery stores, restaurants, parties, work, and school. Going to a movie theatre? Snap a pic of the flick with your phone–there are photo-ops everywhere. If you have one of those tiny tiny cameras, you have no excuse not to have it in your pocket all the time. And if you don’t? Camera phones are a great substitute.
2. There are no rules.
Worrying about themes, perfect pictures, and shooting solely with a dslr every day may not be realistic for you. Make YOUR Project 365 realistic for YOU.
3. Taking a photo (or more) a day will make you a better photographer.
It forces you to build a strong relationship with your camera gear and to get creative. Even if you are using a point-and-shoot camera or camera phone, you will learn to pay attention to lighting and the right moment to press the shutter button.
4. Connect with others who have taken on this project.
By following fellow 365′ers blog and/or Flickr set you will inspire and be inspired. You will also meet some wonderful people along the way.
5. Make a “back up” list of things you want to photograph and add to it throughout the year.
There will be days when you will feel less than motivated about picking up your camera. I referred to my back up list many times this year.
6. Jot down a little bit about each day.
Get a calendar or planner or journal. I have a planner that I write EVERYTHING in. Birthdays and events are in there, of course. But I also add what we did that day like “Took kids on a walk. Beautiful fall day.” Things your kids say or do are also document-worthy. And when the calendar is done or the journal is all filled in, KEEP IT! Chances are your children and grandchildren will cherish your written words some day.
7. If you keep a blog, make posting your picture a part of your daily routine.
For me, the best time to post my picture of the day was right after my kids went to bed. At first, the process was fairly time-consuming since I was not familiar with keeping a blog but you will quickly get into your groove and find posting to be a fairly quick (and rewarding) process.
8. It’s okay to miss a day.
There may be days that you just can’t take a picture and/or post your picture. Life happens. I found the “post options” tool handy when I needed to backdate my picture of the day.
9. You can start your project on ANY day.
There are no rules that say you have to start this project on January 1st. Start it on your birthday or your child’s birthday or Valentine’s day or ANY day. The point is to document a year in your life.
10. Link your daily blog posts on Facebook and/or Twitter.
Your friends will be a wonderful source of motivation and encouragement.
Interested in starting your own 365 project?
All you have to do is pick up your camera and get started. Think about joining a 365 photography community too, as the motivation and support along the way will be priceless.
Check this slideshow for 365 photography ideas for 365 days.
If you have an ongoing 365 day project, share it with us in the comments below. We would love to have a look.