Hey folks! Last time around I asked for some feedback and was given an insane number of extremely-helpful suggestions by a few lovely people… So it’s time for a revamp! Throw out everything you’ve heard, lock up your sons and daughters, and let’s get this show on the road!
A photography friend of mine, Craig Dingle, asked me a few questions about what it’s like to do a 365 Project, and why I started it in the first place. His questions got the old gears turning in my head, I started typing something out and before I knew it I had the basis for this article.
So, why did I start the 365? Same reason anybody starts a 365 Project: Because they’re utterly insane.
That, and I was in a really bad rut with my photography. I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, I’d go out and shoot 300 photos and come home and delete every single one of them because they were rubbish. I was clicking the shutter just for the sake of clicking it, and I felt like I’d lost that “magic”. I felt disconnected from my camera, like it had somehow become this foreign thing I couldn’t seem to operate anymore. I’m sure every photographer’s felt like this at some point!
Looking back, the main problem was I was spending all my time waiting for the image to come to me instead of going out and making the image. I wasn’t seeking out interesting scenery or sweeping vistas or interesting street scenes. I wasn’t doing conceptual photography, or interesting portraits, or grabbing a beautiful sunset, or finding an interesting bit of architecture or making an interesting composition out of abstract shapes. I was pointing the camera at uninteresting things and being disappointed when boring photos came out. I was so frustrated and was really really close to giving up photography entirely and selling my camera gear and finding another hobby.
By chance I stumbled upon the photography/Photoshop resource Phlearn.com and I had a bit of an epiphany: Waiting for an image to come to me wasn’t going to happen; it was time for me to start making images happen! I experimented a bit with Photoshop and enjoyed the process and what I could achieve with my limited knowledge. I kept plowing through Phlearn watching a lot of their videos, including this video and this one. I realised if I wanted to get better at photography and Photoshop it was going to happen through practice (like everything in life!), and nothing gives you more practice than doing a photo every single day! So without putting much thought into whether or not I’d actually be able to get through it, I threw myself into the 365 straight away. (Sometimes it’s better to leap before you look!)
And if I’m honest, my ego also pressured me to take on the challenge; I wanted to see if I could do something as demanding as a 365 Project without missing a day. So far, so good!
The hardest thing about this 365 has been dealing with the “down days”; the days where you’d rather do anything except take a photo. Particularly because I’m trying to improve my photography through this project, so any day where I do a “slack photo” and don’t put a lot of effort in, I always regret it. It’s definitely been a challenge to learn to plow through those down days and do a photo despite how I’m feeling. Everybody has down days, everybody has periods where they don’t feel like taking photos, so it’s a useful thing to learn how to move past that lack of motivation and do it anyway! It’s a skill that’s definitely transferred into other areas of my life.
The best thing so far has been just how much I’ve learned in such a short amount of time. I feel like I’ve crammed years worth of practice into only a few months. It’s given me a chance to experiment with different things, try different lighting setups, different lenses and camera angles, different ideas and Photoshop techniques. And because you’re doing a photo every single day, you really get a chance to play around and have fun with your photography. I’ve also learned ways of dealing with creative ruts and how to get through periods where you don’t feel like taking a photo. And I’ve made a lot of new friends in the process too!
If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of starting a 365 project (or a 52-week project) all I can say is: TRY IT! Nothing, absolutely nothing, will improve your photography (and your love of photography) more than throwing yourself into one of these projects. It’ll be one of the most fulfilling thing you ever do in your photographic life. And even if you don’t make it to the end and have to stop halfway through, you’ve at least gained several months of practice & knowledge and hopefully had a lot of fun along the way. Half a 365 is still 182 photos you may not have otherwise taken!
So dear readers, I’m curious to know: Have you ever thought about doing a 365 project or a 52 week project? What’s holding you back? Or if you’ve already done one (or are in the process), what did your project mean to you? How did it help you on your photographic journey? Drop a comment below, I’d love to hear from you! :)
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