Around this time last year I started looking for inspiration or challenges to improve my photography. I had taken classes, learned the basics and I felt it was time to do more but wasn’t sure exactly what. Browsing online I found lots of blogs and websites that mentioned the 365 Project. At first I thought “No way I could do this”, the idea of taking photos, choosing THE one, editing and uploading every day seemed like too much work and I felt that I would get tired easily.
Yet somehow, the more I read about it the more I felt like I should try it, no strings attached. I said well, if I can’t complete it that’s fine but at least I’d give it a try. I purchased a Pro Flickr account, searched for 365 groups (great for ideas and support from fellow participants) and I felt ready to begin my journey. Today, only around ten days away from completing my fisrt ever 365 (366 this year!) I can say I wasn’t wrong!
So what is a 365 Project?
It is a project in which you challenge yourself to take a photo a day for a whole year. You can post it online on a blog, personal website, online community or forum and photography sites such as Flickr or 500px. Some people prefer not to show theirs and that’s fine but for me I knew the idea of sharing within a community would be great for inspiration and encouragement to help me reach my goal and also learn from other people working on their projects.
How does it work?
Pretty simple. One photo a day. Some people choose themes, 365 self portraits is a popular variation. Others pick monthly themes, for example black & white, macro, or using a specific lens for that time. Some Flickr groups even take it up a notch and include extra tasks such as “red tuesdays”, “self-portrait fridays” and so on. For mine, I chose to be free. I knew that if I made it too specific it would be harder to follow.
Hmm, but a photo a day seems too much…
Maybe. There will be some days when it just won’t happen. We’re all busy with work, family and the things going on in our lives. I knew that if I wanted to “succeed” I would just have to accept that I wasn’t going to create a masterpiece every day and that was fine. The idea is just to keep going because it’s the best way to learn. By having the “obligation” of taking a photo a day I took photos that I never would have taken if I wasn’t working on the project and I even like some of those. There are some others that I don’t like that much, and that’s fine too but by having to make a photo a day I learned to be creative in a different way. I feel like I’m more open to my surroundings and to finding beauty in everyday things. I also learned to deal with different lighting situations, how to adjust my camera settings to achieve different results, how to take a decent self-portrait and even quite a lot about editing photos and developing my own style.
What’s so great about it?
Not only learning a lot in the process and pushing yourself to keep going but also having all those photos that will forever remind you of moments and situations that would otherwise be lost. The things I did, my life, my surroundings and the people I love are all there in my photos forever, and that feels great!
I’m so close to finishing mine and I feel somehow proud of setting a goal and working to achieve it. It is a nice feeling. I now look at some of the photos from the beginning and feel that I’ve grown a lot and that I’ll always remember this year in a special way.
What happens next?
That’s a good question! For all those like me who are always thinking what to do next (even before finishing the last thing), there are lots of options for giving the project the “closure” it deserves before jumping into the next adventure. There are several printing services –Blurb comes to mind but there are others- that help you design photo books so you can turn your 365 into a book either just for yourself, to give to friends and family or even to sell. You can also turn your 365 photos into pages for a calendar or just print them and keep then in a shoe-box or an album if you are more “old school”
With the New Year approaching, I think it is a great time to start a 365 Project. Have you ever tried?
What do you think?