Those of you who follow me will know that I've just completed a 365 project. For those of you who don't know, a 365 project (also known as Photo a Day) is a photography challenge where you shoot and share one photo every single day for a year. Some people follow prompts set by others and some people determine their own rules, such as using a different camera each week, using a single camera for the year or taking a self-portrait every day. Given the project is already pretty onerous, I decided that there were no rules for my project, other than shooting and sharing a picture a day. I kind of gave myself an un-offcial rule not to use my phone camera, but other than that, no restrictions. I planned to share my daily images in an album on my Facebook business page, twitter and Instagram and I started following others who were doing similar projects, to get inspiration and support.
So why did I commit myself to such a huge project? There are a number of reasons really... I guess the main reason was because I wanted to develop my photography skills, try new (to me) techniques and push myself. Before I discovered photography, my creativity had been stifled and suppressed since childhood and I wanted to nurture it; help it grow and develop. I also wanted to use my camera daily, so that operating it became second nature, freeing me up to think about lighting, posing and other elements that create a great image. This is why I didn't want to use my phone camera - I didn't want to just point my phone at something and press a button; this project was about learning, developing. That's not to say you can't develop using a phone camera, but I didn't feel it was right for this project. I also wanted to post something from my Facebook business page on a regular basis, in order to increase my organic reach (although this has dwindled to practically nothing nowadays due to Facebook's algorithm changes).
The project started off well, I was full of motivation and keen to create good images. However, I quickly realised that this project wasn't going to be easy. I live in a small town and if I'm editing photos, I might not leave the house for days, especially if the weather is bad! So coming up with new things to photograph got pretty tough at times! By the middle of February, I started introducing other cameras and by April, instant photography had become a regular feature. Whilst I shoot exclusively digital for my professional work (although I'd love to start incorporating instant photography into it!), I shoot instant images for fun in my personal time, so it made sense that these images formed part of the project. Food was also a regular feature... I'm a total foodie and if I was struggling to shoot something, food was always an easy option (three chances per day to get a shot!). I got quite into food photography and started playing around with lighting and props. My husband was a fairly regular model too, as was my cat Dude. Sometimes my shots were planned in advance, sometimes they were spur of the moment. I included some 'work' images too, as occasionally, I didn't have time to think about an additional shot when I had a shoot that day.
So now it's complete, what did I learn? I definitely got to know my cameras better... I mainly used one of my Canon 6D's, my 1977 Polaroid SX-70 and my compact Lumix LX100. I feel pretty confident with these cameras now and have learnt how they perform in different situations, their strengths and limitations. I also bought an Instax Mini 90 towards the end of the project. I'm still getting used to this camera, although I did get some good results with it during the project. I tried some new things, although I could have done more... I learnt lots about flash photography and this is probably the biggest achievement as a result of the project. I also got a picture featured on a Buzzfeed article!!!
It wasn't easy though and I've learnt that you can't force creativity. Some days, it just rained and rained and I didn't leave the house. I feel like I've photographed every single thing in my house at least once. And on the days I did leave the house, I often walked the same few streets every time. So feeling inspired was sometimes a struggle. And I think that the pressure of knowing I needed to shoot something share-worthy everyday may have, in fact, stifled my creativity. This resulted in sharing some images which I would rather have kept to myself! But hey, you can't create a masterpiece every day, right?
Overall, I'm glad I did it and I felt a great sense of achievement when I finished. A lot of people give up a couple of months in and I didn't. Not only did I post every single day, but I also tried to push myself a bit too, technically and creatively. I've learnt a lot from doing this project, although I still have a way to go before I'm consistently happy with my work. So I'm undertaking another project this year, the Dogwood 52 Week challenge. I'll be following the prompts each week and hopefully, the quality of my work will be better, as I can invest more time into each prompt. I won't necessarily be sharing all my images and I might even miss a week here and there. But I won't beat myself up about that, as I've just shared 365 consecutive daily photos. 365!!!!! And I'm pretty proud of myself!
Here are a few of my favourites:
Have you just completed a 365 project? How did you find it? Are you just starting one? How are you finding it?