There seems to be a lot of interest in Project 365 these days. I’ve seen it on bucket lists and other goal lists and whenever I’ve talked about it, people have expressed interest in trying to complete it. For those who haven’t heard of Project 365, it’s a challenge to take at least one photo a day for an entire year. If you think that sounds like quite an undertaking, you’d be right! Last year was my second time doing Project 365; the first time was in 2007, I believe. I’ve also attempted it countless times in between. In fact, if you dig deep into the archives of this blog, you’ll probably find photos from an attempt or two. I’m not going to lie, the first time that I did Project 365, it was a miserable experience. I went from having an intense love for photography, to not wanting to look at my camera at all. Based on my first experience with it (and attempts in between), I have a few tips for successfully completing Project 365.
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO GET OUT OF IT.
Are you looking for a series of pictures from your year so that you can look back and see what you were doing? Your phone and the camera on it will be your best friend! Are you looking to use your DSLR more often? That will require a bit more planning. Decide if you want to take your camera with you whenever you leave the house. The first time I did Project 365, my camera went wherever I did. And there were still times when I had no idea what to take a picture of! Having a list of prompts be helpful for times like those.
DO YOU WANT TO SHARE THE PICTURES?
If you want to share the pictures, think about how to do that. There are some people who share all of their photos daily on Instagram. Others choose to share them on their blogs; I chose to share mine twice a month and I’ve seen others post updates on a weekly basis. If you’re looking for a photo journal, there are other sites online to check out. One that I’ve used in the past is Blipfoto, where you can upload one photo a day and write about it.
SET A REMINDER ON YOUR PHONE.
Even though taking a photo of your day will become habit, it’s still easy to have it slip your mind. Set an alarm on your phone so that you remember to take your photo each day! But be sure to set it early enough that you can find something to take a picture of. The first time I did Project 365, I set my alarm for 11pm. I ended up running around the house frantically trying to find something to take a picture of within an hour on many occasions.
HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.
If you’re taking a picture every day, you’re going to have pictures that don’t live up to your expectations, especially if you’re someone who is out of the house 8+ hours a day. And that’s okay! The first time I did Project 365, I was in school full-time and working almost full-time. I have plenty of cringe-worthy photos and even more meh photos. But some of the photos from that year are also my favorites. It all balances out.
TAKE A PHOTO OF WHATEVER COMES TO MIND.
Do this even if you don’t think it’ll be good. One night I was at a restaurant with a friend and we were there around midnight. I was tired and was at the point where I was frustrated more than I was having fun with the challenge, so I took a picture of the parking lot out of the window. I didn’t think the picture would be good–it was just a parking lot, after all. But I ended up loving it and to this day it’s one of my favorite photos.
BE GRACIOUS TO YOURSELF.
The first time I completed Project 365 I was so hard on myself. I was paranoid that I’d miss a day and spent so much time worrying about it when I couldn’t remember if I had taken a picture the previous day. I wanted all the photos to be great, but there were a lot that were just okay or bad mixed in with the good. The project went from something that was fun, to something that was a chore. I didn’t want to pick up a camera for a long time after. Don’t be so hard on yourself that you lose the enjoyment of the challenge… or the enjoyment of photography. Which leads me to my final tip…
Project 365 is a challenge and I think most people who complete it will find it to be that way. But it should also be fun! You don’t have to do Project 365, so it you choose to do it, don’t turn it into something that will stress you out. You don’t have to create masterpieces each day and if you miss a day or two, you still have 363 or 364 pictures from your year, which is a huge accomplishment! Enjoy the project, and when you’re done you can sit back and look through all of the pictures, taking in all the little moments from your year.
Have you completed Project 365? What are your tips?
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