Well now that I’ve had a few days to reflect on the completion of my Project 365 I thought I would write about a few things I learned from the experience and offer up a few tips on how you can succeed at your own Project 365.
Always carry your camera with you. You can’t take photos if you don’t have a camera and inevitably you’ll see the perfect shot and won’t have a camera to capture it. I know that there were times I hated carrying around my big dSLR so I purchased a pocket sized point & shoot (Canon S90) just so I would never be without a camera. I lost count of the number of times I was able to capture interesting images because I had that camera in my pocket. So take your camera everywhere you go.
Here’s a story to emphasize this point. When my wife and I were in Bali several years ago we decided to head down to the beach and watch the sunset. I was tired of carrying my camera gear all day so I decided to leave it in the hotel. As we were nearing the beach the sunset was just incredible. My wife asked if I wanted to go get the camera but I declined saying “There will be other great sunsets while we are here.” What a stupid thing to say and do because that turned out to not only be the most incredible sunset we’ve ever seen but was also the only colorful one for the entire 2 weeks we were there. So take your camera everywhere.
Always take the shot now. What I mean by this is when you see a shot that captures your eye take it. Don’t wait or tell yourself that you’ll come back and take it later. Chances are it will either be gone or the light you saw it in originally will be gone. Take the time and shoot it now. You’ll never be disappointed when you shoot it now.
Look for unique perspective. It’s easy to get bored after a few weeks of Project 365 when the newness of the whole thing wears off and you suddenly realize exactly what you got yourself into. You’ll have days where you’ll struggle to find something to shoot. During those times look for unique or different perspective of common everyday items. I took a shot from inside my dryer, a self-portrait through a blender. Try putting your camera in places that provide a view most people either never thought about or never noticed. You’ll be surprised with the cool images you come up with.
Challenge and push yourself. When I look at the images I first took when I started Project 365 and compare them with the images at the end I can see a definite improvement. It’s one thing to shoot photos and another to shoot your vision. Challenge and push yourself to find and define your vision. Not only will it make your Project 365 better it will refine and improve you as a photographer.
Always look for the photo. What I mean by this is to always be looking at your surroundings as if you were looking through the viewfinder or LCD screen of your camera. Frame your day as you would a photograph and you’ll find that your images come to you. And since you are always carrying your camera with you (see Tip #1) you’ll be prepared when the inspiration strikes.
Process and post on a regular basis. With the busy lives that we lead it’s so easy to get behind in the processing and posting of your images. A photo a day for 365 days is a lot of work. Sure, you can cheeseball the whole thing and not put a lot of effort into it but then what have you really gained. By staying on top of your processing and posting you won’t get overwhelmed and frustrated by a mountain of work that you need to catch-up on.
Look for inspiration around you. This is similar to Tip #5 but here I am talking about looking for inspiration from the work of others and those around you. Check out the daily ‘Explored’ images on Flickr to see what others are shooting. Gain some ideas there and then go and make your own twist of it. Make it unique and make it entirely your own. There is nothing wrong with using the work of others to spark your own creativity.
Have fun and don’t stress too much. It can be easy for your project to feel like it is getting out of control. You can lose focus (photography humor here), inspiration and motivation. Remember that this is all about having fun, learning more about your photographic vision and becoming a better photographer in the process. Don’t stress it if you’re not happy with your photo for the day. Learn from it and move forward. Have fun!
Don’t be too critical of your shots. Along with having fun don’t become overly critical of your shots. What you may think is a horrible shot could be an incredible shot to someone else. Don’t worry if you didn’t get the perfect shot. You’ve got 365 chances to get it right.
Stick with it, don’t give up. Don’t give up. Sure it’s a tough thing to complete and commit too but once you get started don’t turn back. Follow through. I found myself going through a few different stages. When I first started I went through the excited stage where I was energetic at taking the photos and posting on a daily basis. It was new and fun. Then the new car smell wore off and I wondered what I had gotten myself into. As days turned into weeks and I ran out of things inside the house to shoot and with the weather too nasty to go outside I found myself contemplating quitting. But I stuck with it and continued on. Eventually I reached a point where I had gone so far and completed so many days (day 200) that it would have been a shame to have quit and done all that for nothing.
I’m so glad that you checked out these 10 tips to surviving a Project 365. I hope they are useful for you in your own Project 365 endeavor. As with any advice, take the stuff that works for you and discard the rest. Happy shooting!