11 Tips For Completing a Project 365

project 365 - Shannon Heimsoth

As photographers, we naturally value the importance of a photograph.  Behind every photograph, there is a story to be told and a memory to be shared.  Photographs document life. Life is meant to be documented.

Read how to start a photography blog as a place to document your 365 photography project.

At the beginning of 2010, I made a resolution to document my life as a wife, mom, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend.  After reading about the Project 365, I quickly decided that was the perfect way to carry out my New Year’s resolution.  The best thing I did when I started this project was I didn’t make any rules.  I simply wanted to take a photo of my life every day. To me, documenting life isn’t about capturing only the big events (birthdays, trips to the zoo, holidays, etc.). It’s about capturing every day. No matter how simple the day may be.  I wanted to focus on the “joy” of each day that God has given me.

project 365 tips

Fast forward to today. 2012 is quickly coming to an end. And I have continued to document my life. Have I blogged every day? Not so much. Are all of my pictures in albums? Nope. Did my camera just sit on a shelf some days? A few. Some days I take hundreds of pictures with my “big” camera and other days I manage only a quick snap with my cell phone. And I’m not beating myself up about this. What IS important to me is that I continue to capture and document my life, as imperfect and real as it is.

project 365

project 365 tips

project 365

Tip to keep your momentum during your Project 365

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

Connect here: Project 365 or Project 52 Blog link-up

4. 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.

5. Take your camera everywhere. 
When I didn’t want to lug my big camera, I took my point and shoot camera.  If all else failed, I used my camera phone.

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.

11. Create a tangible book of your completed Project 365. 
I already have visions of sharing this book with my family for many, many years to come.  Becky Higgins has created an amazing product – Project Life –  created for the Project 365.  The materials are of high quality and the end result is absolutely beautiful.  There is also a digital version of Project Life which is linked with Shutterfly. If you do not want to create a blog or Flickr set, this is a wonderful way to showcase your project.  If you do create a blog, Blurb is an online resource for creating a blog book.  The options are endless. Just remember, this is YOUR project. You can make it as big or as simple as you want it to be.

project 365 tips
project 365 tips
project 365 - Shannon Heimsoth
project 365 - Shannon Heimsoth

Documenting my life has truly been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever accomplished… besides marrying my husband and bringing my children into the world, or course.  I have captured my babies reading a book together, sunsets, birthday candles, weddings, bare feet, my husband napping with one of our children, blue skies, reflections, messy faces, new life, awesome sun flare, folded laundry, dew on the grass, ugly slippers, laughter, tears, runny noses, and toys scattered everywhere. It is my life. A life that I am so thankful for.

If there is anything that I have learned about photographing my daily life, it is this… life is too precious to let the days go by unnoticed.  Every day has significance.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Link up with others who are going to complete a Project 365 or Project 52.

project 365 - Shannon HeimsothShannon Heimsoth – Guest Post
Shannon Heimsoth is a natural light family and child photographer, born and raised in a small town in northern Illinois.  Photography has been a passion of Shannon’s for as long as she can remember. Like many photographers, Shannon became serious about learning more about photography once she became a mother. In February of 2009, she joined Clickin Moms where her passion for photography only intensified. Shannon spends her days doing what she was meant to do, being a wife and a mom of 4. Enjoying the simple joys of life is what it is all about for Shannon. Shannon enjoys date nights with her hubby, building Legos with her 7-year old, cooking with her 5-year old daughter, and putting together countless puzzles with her almost 4-year old twins. Currently, Shannon shoots with a Canon 5DII and 50 f/1.4.
Website | Facebook

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  • December 29, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Shannon, I remember you from 2010 as I did my 365 project that year as well. I loved following you! I was always inspired by your vision. You are amazing that you keep going each year! My favorite part of this post is that you said it’s ok to skip a day once in awhile and there’s no rules. I started one up again last month and I’m way behind in posting, but life happens. You’ve re-inspired me to keep going as it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done! Will you continue on for 2013?

  • December 29, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    Thank you for this timely article. I just posted about reevaluating my goals for the coming year. Your words were spot on and reflect my attitude toward the 365 project so it was very much like listening to myself talk through it. I’m convinced and will continue with a 365 project for 2013.

    • Courtney
      January 3, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      So glad this post spoke to you!! It inspired me as well!!

  • December 29, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Great article Shannon! I started another 365 in November (sort of) I’ve missed a few days and I’m behind blogging, but I’ve got the pictures! I’d love to follow you in 2013! :)

    • Courtney
      January 3, 2013 at 8:57 PM

      Looks like we may have our little 2010 group together again :) Now, we just need Karren to do it!

  • December 29, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    LOVE these tips! One of my goals for 2013 is to become more knowledgeable with my camera/shooting, and to take photos everyday. Looking forward to reading through your older posts to help get me started….. and looking forward to being a regular reader in 2013. Happy New Year!!

    • Courtney
      January 3, 2013 at 8:58 PM

      Welcome!! Taking daily photos really does make a difference! Let me know if you have any questions along your journey!!

  • December 29, 2012 at 10:15 PM

    Thank you! i was just having my freak out about starting one this year! My goal is that it will help me think out of the box more and improve my skills with lighting and coping with horrible lighting situations :)
    I love every post on this site, you guys don’t understand how much you’ve helped me grow <3
    Good Luck to everybody else doing this! I will be sure to try and follow everybody!

    • Courtney
      January 3, 2013 at 8:59 PM

      Thank you for your sweet words! I’m so glad you found this post and all the other ones helpful!! If you take on a 365 I have no doubt you will learn more and achieve those goals of yours!!

  • December 30, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    Great tips! I am really inspired to start my own project after reading these tips. I tried it once in the past and only lasted a couple months.

  • Angel
    December 30, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Love the tips! I started this after I got my iPhone a few months ago. Right now my greatest struggle is figuring out what to photograph, every time my daughter sees me pull my camera out she hides :(

    • Courtney
      January 3, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      Yes, finding a subject is difficult. One of the best pieces of advice I got in photography by Sarah Wilkerson is…Find the light first, then find the subject. You would be amazed how even a stick looks interesting in great light!

  • SMK
    January 1, 2013 at 1:53 PM

    Thanks for the great tips!

    I saw you like to jot down daily happenings – there are cute little books that are set up so you can jot down what happens every day for 5 years. I got one when my son was born and it’s been super cute. It’s made to just jot down something quick (http://www.amazon.com/One-Line-Day-Five-Year-Memory/dp/0811870197)

    Thanks again for the inspiration!

    • Courtney
      January 3, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      Thanks for sharing that!!

  • January 1, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    What an absolute honor it was to be featured on your website, Courtney! So glad that this article helped and encouraged others to try doing daily or weekly photography project :). Hope 2013 brings much joy for all <3.

    • Courtney
      January 3, 2013 at 9:01 PM

      Thank you for writing it!! You have inspired so many of us!

  • Carole Peters
    January 2, 2013 at 7:50 AM

    Thank you Shannon for sharing your photography with all of us. This is a wonderful way to document life. You are so talented. What a blessing you are to your husband, children, and especially the family at ROCK. Love all your photos of the kids. Happy New Year! I am inspired by you, always!

    • Courtney
      January 3, 2013 at 9:02 PM

      She is pretty fantastic :)

  • Lindsay
    February 6, 2013 at 2:28 PM

    Are there any guidelines for the 365 challenges? (For example, the 30 day challenges say Day 1: scarf, Day 2: yourself, etc) Or do you just take a picture of whatever you want?

    • February 10, 2013 at 8:07 PM

      Hi Lindsay :)
      I really have no guidelines :). I just shoot every day. And sometimes I get behind in posting. Like now. Oops :). Anyway, there are lots of monthly photography challenges out there. When I find myself stuck in a rut, I find a monthly challenge and that usually does the trick to boost my creativity. If you are on pinterest, I have several challenges pinned if you need some inspiration :). http://pinterest.com/shannonjoy11/photography/

  • Nicole Allerton
    May 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM

    Hi my name is Nicole, I am extremely interested in taking my beginner photography skills to the next level. The 365 project sounds like a lot of fun. How do I get started?

    Thank you!

  • Maria Riley
    October 29, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Hello! My name is Maria and I just found your site and it has been tremendously helpful. After a few years of hearing me complain about the limitations of our small point and shoot, my husband got me my first dslr for my birthday 3 weeks ago. I am really interested in the project 365 since I am just getting started and I know it would help me a lot. I would also love some of the insight and input that others may have for me in the process. But, I have never blogged before, can I link up with some of the others via facebook or Flickr (never used Flickr before, either)?

  • October 29, 2013 at 11:14 PM

    I am NEW to blogging~! Just created my blog and posted my 1st picture. I want to view other bloggers pics, but not sure how to do it. Suggestions

  • October 31, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    I love this idea! I just started a blog and I will and try to do this 365 project. I really like your approach, no pressure, just do what you can. In the past this project stressed me out and it became un-fun so I’d quit. Now I am going to take it easy and do what I can and just enjoy it!

  • Carri W
    January 2, 2014 at 7:04 PM

    Here’s my dilemma, I am a middle aged photographer … empty nester… it’s me, my husband and my mother living together… My grandchildren are 4hr and 15 hrs away… I am a photographer… but as far as my life goes… what in the world would I take photographs of ? I’d love to do something like this if for no other reason than to leave my kids someday…but what would I shoot ?
    Confused Carri

    • January 2, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      You can focus on street photography, nature, food, do you have a pet? Buy a bouquet each week and photograph that one day. Take a walk and photograph what you see. Go for a drive and look at how the sun hits the trees and photograph it. Don’t get discouraged because you don’t have small kids at home. The whole world is waiting for you to capture it :)

    • Julieann O'Connor Spencer
      January 6, 2015 at 6:47 AM

      I love photographing my family and pets, but I find that if we are out I am drawn to shooting stained glass windows in churches, why you ask, I have absolutely no idea!! :) I think I just love that every window tells a story.
      Just find your niche and run with it. I have discovered in trying to find what I like that I have found what I DON’T like photographing and what conditions I dislike. I love natural light, I don’t like flash, I personally don’t enjoy street photography but I admire the shots others post.
      Its fun, I just have to remember to grab my camera every time I leave the house but the days I left it sitting at the front door, I pulled my iPhone out and used that :)
      Do you have a blog ? Thats a fun way to challenge yourself, start the 365 day challenge, it doesn’t need to begin on January 1st, it can begin today, I’m doing it, its a challenge but its fun :)

  • Carri W
    January 2, 2014 at 7:19 PM

    Thanks Courtney… You’re right… I get so caught up in photography work and life that I think I forgot to enjoy it…. I’m going to get the excitement back… Thanks more than you know….


  • December 17, 2014 at 11:41 PM

    Wow such an inspiring post!! I too want to document/capture my everyday life with husband, kids and blessings. So true, that one day our kids and grand kids would be seeing their early life in pictures n words.

    Thank you for such an awe inspiring post!!
    Epsita from ‘The Positive Window’

  • Martin Thomas
    January 11, 2015 at 10:05 PM

    Hi, Your pictures look SO amazing! Even with a lot of practice, I have dslr Canon 7d !! I still need help and tips, so thank you. Now i am learning a lot of tricks Step-By-Step from Top Secret Photography Tutorials, If anyone want to learning from yourself to figure out your unique photography style then check photography Masteclass

  • Lucy Harrison
    January 12, 2015 at 1:20 AM

    Thank you for the wonderful tips about photography. I bought Canon 7d last month. I would like to know what do you think about the Canon 7d? I still need help and tips and where i should learning photography?? please advise me.

  • berta bali
    July 30, 2015 at 1:38 AM

    Dear Courtney
    I am now following your blog n i love it n thanks for it
    In this session i would like to ask about make a back up list..
    I don’t understand .. Can you make an example?

  • Maury
    April 14, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    Thanks for this! I am doing a photo challenge and quite frankly am bored and it feels forced. Prompts are being repeated too often and it doesn’t feel like it fits into my life. I like the freedom your idea gives. I can photograph what I want to. Thanks. :)

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    April 24, 2016 at 1:46 AM

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  • Chupacabras
    June 1, 2016 at 1:51 PM

    Excellent article on one of the fastest growing types of personal photography. I especially like the tip on weekly themes. I think if you can include something about what is going on in your life or the world, we would be a great way to remind you and others later. For example if you’re having a wedding and shopping for items, take a photo of you and each item you like most on a particular day. It would be great to see everything at the end and how your tastes or “themes” progress.

  • RMAU
    June 5, 2016 at 3:19 AM

    The photo 365 project is a great idea, and these are some fantastic tips. Number 3 is the most important; all too often we hesitate in the face of opportunity or, more likely, we are just too damn lazy to do anything about it at all. Besides with an undertaking like this you need every opportunity you can get. Good post!

  • Shannon
    December 29, 2016 at 5:10 PM

    Hello. I like be this article. Everyday is something different when littles are in the mix. What would you suggest as a 365 project for those that don’t have babies running around?

  • Maja
    April 5, 2017 at 4:31 PM

    So inspiring, so true, so amazing and well said! Thank you!

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