I walked through the living room and noticed him quietly playing with legos on the coffee table. The light was dull and the moment wasn’t really anything extraordinary. But for some reason, I grabbed my camera and took a few shots. It was January 1, 2016. And just like that, a year-long journey of picking up my camera daily in hopes of creating something meaningful began.
Read more: How to Start a 365 Photography Project
Here we are now, a few months into 2017, and I know many of you are tackling a 365 this year. Good for you! I want you to know that if you are still trucking along, it will continue to get easier and eventually your day won’t even feel right until you’ve held your camera in your hand. But it absolutely won’t be without a few struggles and challenges along the way.
I heard from so many fellow photographers that completing a 365 project would transform my photography in more ways than I could imagine. The word on the street was that it was also incredibly challenging. Both of these sentiments proved to be true. There were many times during the year that I wanted to throw in the towel. To give up. But along the way, I discovered a few tricks to help me from completely losing my mind during my 365.
Let’s talk about some of the basics. In my mind, a 365 boils down to one thing and one thing only. Picking up a camera and taking a picture every single day for a year.
Not editing every day for a year. Not posting on social media every day for a year. Not even creating something magical every day for a year (because if you even attempt to tackle that last one, you will most certainly lose your mind within a matter of days).
Remind yourself of this one simple rule throughout the year and it will make completing the project less daunting.
No.02Rules vs. Goals
That being said, I had goals for my project that went beyond the one simple rule of picking up a camera daily, and I truly feel that those goals are what ultimately pushed me to become a better photographer in the end and helped me find my unique photography style. But I used the word “goals” as opposed to “rules” to give myself some grace when things didn’t go as planned.
I truly aimed to create something every day that was interesting to me. Something a little unlike anything I had shot before. I was constantly looking for new angles, new perspectives and boy did my heart sing when I found them.
But the days everything I shot was subpar? No worries, I would put my camera down and try again the next day.
No.03Don't Feel the Pressure to Edit Daily
Now, I don’t want to scare you away from your project, but it would be remiss of me to not mention that I still have nearly 10,000 photos untouched from last year that I need to get through. Could I have done a better job culling and editing as the days went by? Of course! But would it have cost me my sanity? Probably.
For the most part, I did upload my photos to my computer daily and would skim through looking for the ones that made my heart sing. I would take a little bit of time editing anywhere from one to ten photos from the day and set the rest aside for when I felt up to the challenge of tackling them. Late-night editing party anyone?
Sure the images piled up quickly, but not feeling the pressure to edit them all (or even any of them) daily was worth it and made completing my project seem manageable.
Okay, so you’re rocking and rolling, picking up your camera everyday like it’s your job. But what do you do when your camera is in your hand and you feel fresh out of ideas on what to aim it at? If this day hasn’t come yet for you, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but it will. And when it does come, the first thing I will tell you to do is, LEAVE!
Get out of your house! Go somewhere new and take your camera! Your kids will be happy for an adventure and you will be happy to have something new to photograph.
I’ve dragged my camera and kids to all sorts of places, most of the time not even really having an idea of what I would shoot ahead of time. But giving your eyes some fresh material will be oh, so good for your sweet photographing soul.
Local parks, museums, the grocery store, the doctor, a relatives house, a splash pad, your local burger joint, your neighbors pool, the list is endless!
Now you’re getting out of the house more, but after a while that pesky little feeling of boredom starts to creep in. What do you do? Look into some fun new photography techniques!
I’ve pretty much tried it all. I definitely haven’t mastered any, but my goodness it is fun to dabble in some new things and get some interesting results. Ring of fire, underwater photography, multiple exposures, freelensing and playing with a prism were all things I took a stab at throughout 2016.
A few quick google searches and just a little bit of time watching some youtube videos will have you excited to shoot again if you’re feeling in a rut.
Read more: Introduction to Free Lensing
No.06Plan for Fun
My last tip for you would be to plan something fun for you kids that you don’t normally do. Find some pretty light or a neat location, get the activity set up, call your kids over and go to town.
A bonus of this is that my kids are usually so enthralled with the activity that they don’t even notice that I’m taking pictures. No protesting of the camera!
A few things I’ve set up that have been hits with my kids include playing with a bottle of shaving cream in the shower, washing their hot wheels in the kitchen sink and painting the fort section of their swing set in the backyard.
Alright friends, you got this! Just remember that even though you won’t necessarily want to pick up your camera every day and sometimes it will feel like a chore, nine times out of ten you will be so happy that you did. It’s unreal how many photos I have from 2016 that are now among some of my all-time favorites and were taken on days I dreaded picking up my camera. I can’t help but think about how those photos wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for my 365 project.
Well friends, good luck to you all! I hope your projects in 2017 are all you hoped they would be and I just know you will be so happy with the results. Happy shooting!