Hints & Tips For Doing A 365 Day Photo Project

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As 2009 draws to an end and 2010 gets ready to spring into being the question many photographers are asking themselves is: Do I want to do a 365 day photo project?

Peter Carey recently provided an article to the Digital Photography School website on the many benefits of doing a photo365 project. I thought I’d add to this work by listing some of the lessons I have learnt from doing the 365 Before Thirty Project so far:

  • They won’t all be winners. Some days things will seem to conspire against you: time will get away from you, the light just won’t work the way you want or there just won’t be anything around you think will look good in a photo. There’s more than a few shots in the project so far that I’m less than happy with but the important thing is they were done.
  • Don’t be too restrictive on your subject matter. Themed 365 photo projects can produce some really cool results. Be too restrictive on your theme however and you may end up hating it. Unless you have a somewhat obsessive personality taking photos of the same tree for example is going to get very dull for you within a month. I personally prefer the more random approach and take what life throws at me each day.
  • Set goals. A good way to tackle a large project is to break it down into manageable chunks. For me I use a reward system – every 30 days I complete on the project I’m allowed to buy myself a new piece of camera gear. To reinforce this reward system I am not allowed to buy camera gear outside of this scheme with exceptions made for Christmas and my birthday.
  • The best camera you can ever have is the one in your hand. Stranded in an airport and only armed with your camera phone? Use it! You never know, you might just be in the right place at the right time for an amazing shot.
  • This is your project, your rules and your photographs. Don’t let anyone turn it into a chore
  • Consider making something with the result in a years time. Some people have made time-lapse videos, others calendars for the family. I’m planning on making a book.
  • Pick a date that means something to you. Sure January 1 is a good time to kick off one of these projects but is there another annual date that means something to you? I opted to use my birthday for this project because it’s my last year in my 20’s and it feels like somewhat of a turning point in my life.
  • Not got time for a full 365 project? Consider a 52 project. One photo a week is doable and will still keep you in the game photography wise.
  • Take photography trips! Even if it’s just somewhere like your local park. It’s truly amazing what you can find. Pack your gear, some food and just go for a wander.
  • Some days it will just flat out suck. Sit down, relax and don’t force it.
  • Pimp your shots! Blog about them, twitter them and provide inspiration to others. Not saying you should spam them everywhere but a little self promotion may just return some unexpected results. Certainly did for me.
  • Roll with the punches. There will be criticism and comments that will at times be unfair. Always remember why you are doing the project. It’s not your job to please everyone.
  • Record your ideas. You will have ideas for your project that you want to do but can’t do that day. Record them! I use a combination of the Evernote app on my android phone and the ever reliable moleskine notebook.
  • Search around for inspiration. There will be days where you will have a complete mind blank on what to do. Reach out to friends and family for ideas. Take inspiration from other photo365 blogs or incorporate things like the DPS weekly assignments / weekend challenges.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Take risks and try photography styles you’ve never done before. It’s no secret that my passion is macro photography, now and again however I force myself to do shots that I’m unfamiliar or even uncomfortable with. The results have been somewhat surprising.
  • Enjoy the ride. Perception of time is an odd thing. Some days will seem to crawl past. At other points you’ll wonder exactly where the last three months went. Don’t let either end of the scale scare you out of doing one of these worthwhile projects.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and I have no doubt I will be learning more lessons along the way. If you have your own hints and tips please share them with the rest of us as well!

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49 thoughts on “Hints & Tips For Doing A 365 Day Photo Project

  1. Miguel says:

    Thank you for this valuable information. Lately I have been reading a lot about 365/day photo projects and I’m ready to start one myself this upcoming January 1st.

  2. adam says:

    You didn’t mention using the #photo365ideas on twitter.

    I’m intending to start a 365 project in the new year …

  3. I will start a project beginning January 1. I will document every day of the year focusing on taking a forward action/ step to realizing my goals. Also, it will document what my life looks like when I step off my path. Everyone needs a mirror held up to him/herself to see what they are really up to. This will be my mirror.

  4. What a wonderful idea! But i dont have a good camera. I only have a 7.1megapixel canon digital ixus point and shoot type of camera. Do you think it would be a great project to do nonetheless?

  5. I’m doing one of my newborn baby. I started on her birth day and have been at it for 6 weeks. I’m having trouble finding time to process the photos though… she’s number 3. Anyone have any ideas for the best software to turn em into a lil’ movie?

  6. Thanks for those tips! I’ve been trying the photograph a week thing for two years now with middling success, usually averaging around 30-40 pictures a year. Your tips will hopefully make it more successful next year (debating up it to twice a week, full 365 still too intimidating!). I especially liked the “goals” one because just one a week seems like a small goal but holy crap, when you’re in the midst of life and school it suddenly becomes HUGE. Maybe I shouldn’t have chosen Friday as my upload day, even though Photo Friday has a nice alliteration… 😉

  7. kurtis says:

    Thanks for the tips. I have no camera at all and rather opted to take a picture of myself to see the gradual change over my last year of high school. Interesting indeed!

  8. Great tips, thanks! I just decided last night for sure that I was going to do a daily photoblog, so it’s a nice treat to read this the next day and see there are others doing the same thing.

  9. Wonderful tips! I’ve been planning on trying this project for a few years now, but it always seemed like too big of a project for me to handle. I’m going to start Jan 2010 and hope for the best. =D

  10. John says:

    I’m going to start a 365 project tomorrow too. Where are all of you planning on posting? Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, another site? Or, are you planning to just keep them for yourself?

  11. I started one yesterday. I’ll link to whomever links to me, and vice versa. Mine is going to be done all with my camera phone. I snap a lot of photos with it anyway, so this should be no problem.

  12. @Jasrie
    Any camera will do! There are people who have incredible gear that don’t create better than average work, and people armed with only cell phone cameras that make great work. It’s in the passion, eye and effort. The camera is just a tool. There may be limits on each tool- but there’s a way to succeed if you want to. Go for it!

  13. Started my Photo A Day project Nov. 15, 2004. Titled “My Final Photo – If I died in my sleep this was it” has more than 5,700 photos, a fresh photo taken every day. I urge everyone interested in photography to begin today. It is possible to create a great document of our lives.

  14. I have started one after being inspired by this article and the lifehacker one on new years eve that took me here. Thanks, I’m hoping I can keep it up because I am finding it a very useful and enjoyable exercise so far.

  15. I started a 365 project with a friend, and after a month I was totally burned out by it ( have a full time job / and other responsibilities). But because I did it simultaneously with a friend ( we post it both on http://www.photodoubletrouble.com ) we are still able to be doing it. Your article has validated my feelings of my project, has open my eyes on what really counts and has left me in a generally good mood. Just love it!

    Thanks mate!

  16. Thanks for the hints and tips, I’m thinking of embarking on my first and … wow 365 seems like a chunk, then I ready once a week.  THAT is doable.  I don’t want it to be a chore, I want to learn from it!

  17. Kampbyll says:

    this is not as easy as made out to be , the project is designed that by the end of the year you know everything about your camera , shooting on auto wont cut it , same picture being taken day in and out dont work , you have to think everyday how can i do something different , its harder than it looks , iv seen some examples on here ppl that stated they done a 365 , yeah you did , but did you learn anything ? or do all of your pictures look the same ? then the job itself was a waste of your time . i think people are taking on this project way lighter than it was intended , you cant just pickup a camera and say ok im going to do a 365 , im a photographer and im not ready to do one of these yet , thats how much goes into it … and please take that camera off auto , there is so much more to the camera than auto

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