On January 1, 2010, I decided to participate in Project 365 — where I took a photo a day for a full year. I chose the photo medium because photography is faster production-wise than drawing or designing something. Taking photos requires looking for interesting details, seeing the composition boundaries of the frame, and knowing the right moment to take the photo if there are people involved. Since I’d be capturing something that already exists, I knew I could commit to the full year photography challenge outside of my full-time job.
With digital photography, I could download the photos to my computer after pressing the camera’s shutter button. Adjusting the contrast, colors, sizing down each photo in Photoshop, tagging in Flickr, or catching up on shots took more time. My project requirement was carrying a camera with me nearly everywhere I went, every day. I used a Canon Powershot G11 camera because it was lightweight but decent quality, as well as my iPhone camera.
Life gets in the way
After a few months, I started to get tired of the consistent daily challenge. Most days, taking more than one photo wasn’t difficult. Other days, I couldn’t wait around for some street photography moments to happen because I had to get back to the office. Sometimes I didn’t see anything interesting to photograph in my work neighborhood area. I admit, I didn’t upload a photo every day that day. And sometimes I used photos from the same week that I hadn’t taken the exact day. I’d batch upload photos at the end of a week, and assign a date to them. My photos were a combination of street photography, people, objects, signs, places and events. I would have loved to do more arty shots, but didn’t take much time to set up the lighting or props.
I fell behind after I got back from Vancouver BC, and after I moved from San Francisco to Pacifica. I had to catch up editing, uploading and tagging about two and a half weeks’ worth of photos. Most of my life, I’d started many outside art and design projects but never finished them. I wouldn’t give up on Project 365, it was doable, and I needed to prove to myself I could finish it.
Advice on how to make it through
I always eye details around me as I walk down the street during lunch hour or my commute. Some days when I didn’t see much to photograph, I’d capture objects in my house. If you’re stuck when you do it, try photographing objects around your home. To break up the monotony, I threw in some drawings I made during that time as well. The key is to take lots and lots of photos, try different angles, framing/composition, abstract close-ups or lighting. Then, pick a few decent ones.
Mix up photo ideas with people (street or portraits), places (environment, nature, weather), things (objects, architecture, sculptures, signs, patterns, books, bags), events, holidays, colors, numbers, pets, your commute, or something that represents a summary of that day. Nowadays, there are lots of iPhone apps that make photo effects more interesting if you want to add something extra.
If the Flickr community comments on your work, it’s rewarding and helpful. Some photographers are supportive and will critique your work if you give them feedback on their photos. Social media encourages people to share information and make connections. Posting your photo links via Twitter is useful, but do it in moderation.
Why do it?
I participated in Project 365 to finish a long term side project, to challenge my way of seeing things, and to become better at the ‘medium.’ A side perk was finding interesting photo opportunities. The photo project also chronicled pieces of my life for that year. View my Project 365 on Flickr.