How to Successfully Complete a 365 Project
By: By: Christine Singleton
Last year, January 1st 2015, I remember I challenged myself to start a 365 project. I thought to myself, no better way to learn to shoot in any kind of situation that to just do it. I’m not going to learn if I don’t push myself and just try it. I picked up my camera, promising myself that I would give it an honest shot, that I would just shoot for me. Not to create a show-stopping piece of art everyday, not for likes on Facebook, but to simply learn how to adapt to capturing life as I saw it.
And so began my 365 project for 2015. I will say that it has been an amazing experience. I have opened up to other photographers and have gained support from so many – photographers + fan alike – that has helped push me through the year. I have made many friends along this journey, and so many opportunities that I never dreamt were possible presented themselves. I’ve been published in two different magazines, I participate in many photography related challenge groups, and have gained confidence in myself and my work.
I look back at the images I have taken and am so thankful for each and every one of them – it brings me right back to that moment. When memory fails, a photo will sweep you back to that very moment in time. So much changes over the course of a year – the gain/loss of family members/pets, haircuts, bumps + bruises, clothing that once fit is too small just a few short months later, house projects, and all that each season brings… I hope if you are considering doing a yearly photo project – that you do it. You miss 100% of the chances you never take. You never know where it will take you, and in a year from now you will have wished you started sooner. The internet is a great tool and many supportive photography groups can be found on Facebook for help, and ideas with your project. Here are some tips I have for you if you are considering starting one:
Commit + Connect + Inspire
Jump in with both feet, and just do it. This is your project, tackle it from whatever angle you would like! Shoot still life, nature, sunsets, your kids, your dog – it doesn’t matter. Just commit to push yourself, and to shoot one picture each day. Find some artists that inspire you and start to follow along. For inspiration there are many many 365 (or 366 this year – leap year!) that have popped up recently on Facebook. They are a great way to connect, support one another, open up about different techniques, and to inspire one another to continue on. You will have days where you feel totally uninspired. Lean on others, and see what they do to get themselves out of a creative rut. The Snap Maven is a great positive page to follow, each Monday they release a ‘Flyer’ that shows you a multitude of different pages, and what the themes are for that week. Those different pages are great to follow and are great for inspiration. Find some that fit your style, participate, and follow along to see what others create. I personally love following Fantastically Flawed, The Monochromatic Lens, Let the Kids Dress Themselves, and Life in Loud just to name a few.
Shoot for Yourself
Again, this is your project; this isn’t to gain likes on Facebook; this isn’t to impress anyone. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Shoot something that makes you happy and keeps this project stress free. For me I wanted more of a documentary/lifestyle feel to my photos; I looked at this project like my visual diary of my life with kids. Each day has beauty to it. Find it.
What makes you smile? What evokes a memory, or is something that you are passionate about? It may be something small, it may be an activity you have planned. It may be the way the steam rolls off your coffee in the morning that inspires you, or the way the rain rolls down your window. Shoot what makes you feel something. I smile each time I look back at what this past year had to offer – and what will change this upcoming year.
Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Yourself
Keep this fun! Somedays it’s ok to put your big camera down, and snap a photo with your phone. Don’t forget to live your life and be in the moment as well. Snap a few photos, and put the camera down. Enjoy your surroundings. Don’t stress about what others think if your photos are technically right – emotion will always prevail over technicalities. Don’t worry about messes or not having a ‘perfect’ house. It’s your story – it is what it is. Embrace it. Life isn’t perfect. If you skip a day – continue on. Life happens sometimes, no big deal. I usually don’t get to posting my photo of the day until late at night, or sometimes the next day or so. It happens. Shake it off and continue on.
After all, this is about pushing yourself a little bit. Try out a new technique. Try shooting in the midday sun. Try to shoot with intentional sun flares. Try shooting inside with lighting you aren’t familiar with, or in low light conditions. What’s the worst that can happen? I have fallen in love with freelensing this past year. Is it for everyone? Nope! So find what you love and go after it. Try to accomplish a great black and white image, or a colorful hand edit. Following different challenge groups and connecting with others will help out with this. Be kind and supportive to others, and find pages that offer the same.
This is a big one – keep your camera out on a table and ready to grab at any time. You don’t know what will inspire you throughout the day. Keep your camera charged, with a memory card in it and ready to go. I bring my camera out with me often, I just keep it in my purse, or in the car. Its nearly always with me. Don’t want to carry your big camera around? No problem! Challenge yourself – take a photo with your phone instead! A simple snapshot of something you’ve done that day will do – I did this often on the days I second shot weddings.
So go – pick up your camera, and start now. Capture a moment each day and treasure it.
Christine Singleton has been photographing as an associate photographer for Lady and the Lens photography for 5 years. She enjoys second shooting weddings, lifestyle sessions, and documenting her children’s day to day activities through her daily 365 project.