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!