365 Project Q and A

Whilst putting together my 'Tips for a 365 Project' post I asked on social media if anyone had any questions about how I made it through the project and I got so many great questions to answer, so lets get going!

How do you have the energy and the inspiration to keep it going?

For inspiration I follow a lot of other photographers on social media and looking at other peoples photos has really helped me expand my ideas of what I could take photos of and given me different ideas of things to look for every day.  I've also been looking at other 365 projects - Amanda's Daily Photograph and Ashley's #366impossibledays in particular - to keep up my motivation. 35mm is hard enough but an instant photo every day is quite something!! I would recommend checking them both out.

My energy/spoons is always an issue with my anxiety/depression... if it wasn't a good day then it was particularly hard to motivate myself - so rather than seeing the project as a choice I tried to incorporate it as a non negotiable self care item, like showering every day and getting enough sleep. In my lunch, I would go for a walk and take a photo - two things that I enjoyed and helped me feel better... so I guess my motivation on bad days partly came from whatever part of me does want to look after myself. Luckily I wouldn't say there were too many bad days over the year, Winter is always hard but overall it wasn't a huge barrier.

The main issue I struggled with in this project, rather than energy and inspiration, was boredom... being in the same place everyday where I work and only having a limited time to take photos in my lunch could be quite restrictive when I really didn't feel like taking the photos. The weekends, any holidays or activities like visiting friends, going for a walk etc were easy... but your typical work day was a bit more of a challenge. To tackle this I spent quite a lot of time looking up things to see in Leeds - which seemed odd having lived here for 9 years. However it is quite easy to get caught in a little bubble, so I researched and I planned different routes of walking around the city rather than going the same way every time. A lot of the time I never took photos of the things I researched, rather something else caught my eye on the walk to it - but having a goal to aim for did help me get out and change things up a bit.

If I had to say what really kept me going, I would probably say determination and stubbornness rather than inspiration... the project then settled into a habit somewhere around the middle of the year and then switched back to stubbornness and determination as Winter arrived and the days got shorter. Those two things don't sound very creative or romantic in comparison to inspiration and motivation though do they haha. 

How do you make sure you get a photo every day and what do you do when you don’t feel like shooting?

One thing was to have my camera with me all the time - or at least as much as I could. Sometimes even if I didn't think I felt like taking a photo, I'd spot one out of the corner of my eye and job done (and breath). Other times, it was mostly just forcing myself to get outside and take a photo of anything, just to tick that days box and move on.

To make sure I took a photo every I also had two apps on my phone to help me monitor 1. which day number it was and 2. what photo I had taken that day. I used Day Counter to display the day number on the front of my phone so I always saw it every time I checked my phone and then a note app to write down the photo after I had taken it. This also really helped keep me organised when I got the films developed and scanned as I would have completely forgotten which day was which if I hadn't written it down.

How you found keeping yourself accountable, in particular when it's 10pm and you've still not taken a pic and can't see one?

If its got to 10pm and I had genuinely forgotten and been too busy then I let it go and took a photo the next day instead. As I mentioned in the tips post - sometimes life happens and gets in the way and that's ok. I did try to stick to my rule of taking the photo the next day pretty strictly though rather than missing more than one day in a row - those days were either super easy and I took two straight away or really, really difficult, as finding one is often a challenge enough on my lunch breaks, let alone finding two ha.

I wasn't too rigid with timing or anything like that - I didn't set an alarm, I just kept a list and somehow it was always in the back of my mind as something that I had to do each day.

Is every picture from a different day or did you sometimes take a few altogether and then space them out?

I would say that 90% of the photos taken were on the day and as I mentioned in my tips post - this is a percentage that I am very happy with - considering that I've never finished a 365 project before after starting at least 3 other attempts.

7% I would say were genuinely forgotten days where I was too busy and didn't make it out on my lunch break and 3% were days I just couldn't bring myself to do it - even with researched plans, having my camera and being prepared. I don't know if that resistance came from depression, or if I was just rebelling against myself those days - but if you've ever had that kind of day where you've had to fight yourself so hard to get things done, then you know you chose your battles wisely and taking a photo seems less important than making sure you get out of bed/ don't cry at work.

Luckily 3% of 366 isn't a very high number so I do want to reassure people that those days weren't very often but I guess in a project like this - the photos that got away tend to stick with you. Overall though I would stress that taking care of yourself is more important than getting the photo if it really is a terrible day for you, that was why I had the next day rule I guess, as a way to ensure that this project kept going rather than stopping on my first bad/missed day and that I didn't burn out or push myself too hard on days where I should really be nice to myself.

To answer the other part of the question, I never took a load of photos in bulk for the project - it was either always the day of or the day after I missed. I kept an emergency folder of other photos when I did take more than one a day, just in case, but I'm pretty pleased that I never had to use any of those photos to replace missed days, I made the one day after rule and I stuck to it.

Pros and Cons of self scanning?

This question originally said self developing but as I don't develop my photos, I changed it to the one thing I do, which is scan my negatives after picking up the developed film from the lab.

One huge pro was the amount of money that scanning my own negatives saved me. At last count I took 45 rolls of film in 2016 and each one cost me £2 to get developed rather than £7 for the film and scans on a disk - thats £225 saved over the year, which is more than my scanner even cost. (Oh I should have worked these numbers out before now, how satisfying is that?! And only in one year!)

One huge con though is the time it takes to scan and edit photos. Although as I mentioned in my scanning post - this doesn't feel as much as a con as it did at the start of the year - now I'm really enjoying that one on one process and also spending that bit more time when taking the photo to be mindful of the final result.

I can imagine if I did develop my own films I would have saved even more money but I really don't feel brave enough to try that out for myself yet ha.

Any tips for taking pictures inside with film?

This is still something I struggle with using film, I rarely take photos inside if I'm honest. If I do take them inside then I try and use a camera with a meter - like my OM-10, that way I can play about with the settings until I know I'll be pressing the shutter at a speed that won't make the photo blurry. Luckily the Canon EOS 750 is pretty good inside, but the ones I did take inside still felt risky as I really had no idea if they would work out or not.

I don't really have any other tips other than using a higher ISO film and making sure you have your settings so you don't get any blur. I'm sure other film photographers have better advice though, so if you do, leave a link or comment below! 

Favourite Camera?

Easily my Canon EOS 750. I use it every day and the majority of the photos with this project were taken with it. Its so easy to use and not too fiddly that I have to overthink each photo... it can take the nice detail shots that I love taking and also the more grand scenic shots that help set the scene. I don't think I could have done this project without it to be honest. Perhaps I should have added - use a camera you love and find quick and easy to use to my tips post :) The only downside is that its a bit big and quite heavy so I've had to use a bigger bag each year but even that I got used to quite quickly.

If anyone else has any questions, then please do ask in the comments and I'll answer there, I'm more than happy to talk honestly about this project as you can see :)