Last year I made the biggest commitment of my life. It seemed even bigger, than agreeing to marry my husband! Okay, maybe I exaggerated a little. I made a decision to do a 365 project and take a photo every single day throughout the year. Photography has been passion of mine for many years now. I really wanted to take it to the next step. So, in order to learn more and put my skills to work, I had to practice every day. Along with all the amazing things that happened to me last year, having all the photos of my family was the greatest reward I got at the end.
For those of you, who plan on starting a 365 project or have already started, here are my 5 tips on how to stick with it.
1. Make a list of ideas.
Before I started my project, I made a list of ideas of what I could photograph on days that I'm struggling to photograph anything. Some days, you might not want to use any ideas you have, but the list will come handy another day, when you'd want to use them all!
When I am out exploring, read a book or a magazine, browse favorite photography blogs, I try to immediately write down ideas I have in my notebook or my iPhone.
There is a few photography blogs, dedicated to this project, that weekly post prompts and themes for each day. It makes it easier when you know what to photograph. I didn't go that way, but it certainly seems like a great idea.
It is important to remember to be patient. Pick up your camera, and wait. Whether you're playing with your kids, cooking, reading a book or, even, out shopping, the moment will come. Train your eyes to see things. If your project dedicated to taking photos of your family, remember that it is okay to not take a photo of a person. Look around and photograph something, that tells a story without your family member in it.
Don't forget about perspective. The same photograph of the same subject can look completely different if it's taken from a different perspective. Take a photo from above, below or through an object. Don't be afraid to try new ways to photograph. It is all about practice.
Sharing your photos of your project is very important. Do not feel obligated to share every single day or every photo you've taken, but you do have to have a safe place where you can share your favorites. It can be a private Facebook page, your website, Flickr, Tumbler or any other social platform.
It was easier for me to create a Facebook page dedicated to my photography. It wasn't time consuming, it was easy to keep up with and it was very motivational to get feedback on my photos. As I mentioned above, I knew I wanted to take this project to the next level and dedicate myself to photography, so it was the right way for me to go.
Whatever you choose, make sure you're fully comfortable with it. If you don't feel secure sharing your photos publicly, you can always make a private account.
3. Embrace imperfection.
Do you ever go on photography websites and blogs and catch yourself thinking "how do they get all these wonderful photos?!". I think at some point we all get there. What we never think of is how many shots it took them to get that one image that stands out. It takes patience and lots of practice.
Not every photograph you create will be perfect. And that's ok. A lot of my photos from last and current year's project were underexposed, grainy, had terrible lighting or missed focus, because I had to work with what I had. When you chase three little kids around, you don't always have a choice to wait for the perfect moment. You create your own memories. I can honestly say, some of my favorite photographs are not technically perfect, but the moment that I captured was spot on. And, I'll take that!
The photo below is a perfect example of imperfection. It is dark, people are not in focus, I could have probably made a few steps back to fit more in the frame. But I am pretty happy with what I got, because I was able to get my family watching 4th of July fireworks together in it. I get this chance once in a lifetime.
4. Get inspired.
If you are in a rut and you do not feel motivated to photograph, you lack inspiration. It happens to all of us. Try to find different ways to get inspired. It does not have to be photography related. Meet up with friends, have a date night, go on a family outing. These little things go a long way. I love browsing book stores, get a cup of coffee, a few favorite books and magazines and dive into reading. These quite moments alone happen very rarely, but I consider them a breath of fresh air. Also, try shooting for yourself as often as you can. Even if you don't share these photos. You don't always have to photograph the same subject. To me, it felt strange when I posted photos of something besides my children. Having uncooperative subjects is not always easy. Sometimes, you need a break. Look around. The world is full of inspiration.
5. Be kind to yourself.
You will have days when you want to give up. It will happen. It's inevitable. Remember to be kind to yourself. Remember why you wanted to create a photograph every single day. Remember that no one is perfect and anyone can get tired of such big commitment. Not everyone can stick with it. But you can!
Do you need a break? Take one. Take a day off and take two photos the next day. Life happens. And you have to accept it. Last year I caught a stomach virus from my kids and got really sick. The last thing I wanted to do is worry about taking a photo. It was hard, but I skipped a day, because I am a human and I had to take care of myself too. I took about a hundred photos the next day that I could use to make up for a lost day.
Last but not least, follow your own journey through this project. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. In our days, with so many great photographers (who are also full time parents or have full time jobs), it's easy to throw yourself in comparison to them. But you are you, you live your own life, and there's no one else who has exactly the same journey as you.
Most importantly, remember to have fun! :-)
If you have any questions, I am happy to answer them!