My tips for a 365 Photo Project

Although I haven't shared (or even developed) the last of my 366 project photos - they have now all been taken... HUZZAH and as the project went along I was slowly writing this post as ideas and thoughts popped into my head. So these suggestions are in no particular order really... I hope they can offer some help and ideas to anyone thinking of undertaking a 365 project, its not a small task, I will say that.

 Clothes on the bed... pretty dull really

Clothes on the bed... pretty dull really

1. Take the boring photos.

You have 365 days to take a photo, that's a lot of photos. Every. Single. Day. Some are going to be some of the most amazing photos you've taken and some are going to seem dull. But who knows when you look back in a few years time, the ones you originally thought were boring might actually be the amazing ones. its easy to let your thoughts block your creativity - but if you're anything like me, once you've spotted a photo, the idea of it lingers in your brain... so take it and see what happens even if your thoughts don't support your usual creative intentions!

2. Power through!

You're going to hit a wall and not just once... this project is going to be effort (edit Dec 16: SO much effort ha), its not going to be fun and it will at points be boring and tedious. But keep going... these feelings only last a while and before you know it, you'll be looking for photos again and trying not to take 4 a day rather than working so hard to just get that one.

 A photo that didn't make the project cut as I took more than one photo that day...

A photo that didn't make the project cut as I took more than one photo that day...

3. Take more than one a day if you really want to...

If you're in the mood to take photos then take them...don't save a photo for later once you've spotted it. I know its tempting but things change so fast that the next day, it could be gone. Ride the wave of enthusiasm and creativity whilst its there and tomorrow you'll find a new photo I promise. I missed a few great photos thinking 'I'll take that tomorrow' and the next day its been totally different with the weather or its just not there anymore and its been so frustrating. This project isn't meant to limit you in any way, its there to help you grow. 

Of course the only problem with the super productive days is then narrowing your choice for the day to just one photo - but that's not a terrible problem to have.

4. Some days that amazing photo is just not going to happen

Wouldn't it be wonderful if all 365 photos from our projects were masterpieces and the photos so easy to find that they handed themselves to you on a plate... that would be living the dream for sure. But in real life, some days are hard work, you can't see the photo, you can't create the photo and in the end, you just take a photo of whatever is the least boring of all the boring things that you've seen that day. Inspiration doesn't always show up but dedication, that is a daily practice - and more than anything this project is definitely a lesson in dedication and perseverance.

5. Some days you are going to completely forget to take a photo.

Life happens, don't beat yourself up about it. I set myself a rule, if I forgot / couldn't take a photo one day, I took two the next and that was that - no beating myself up, no finishing the project at day 100 in a funk - I decided on a fix to the problem and made sure I met that solution.  I think I averaged 1 maybe 2 forgotten photos a month, with most of the 2 being the winter months where I worked through lunch and it was too dark by the time I remembered to take a photo. This means 24 (ish) out of my 366 photos were taken the day after - I can live with that percentage, especially if it gives me a complete project at the end.

Ultimately the integrity / productivity / rules of your project is your business, no one elses, so if you skip a few days and you're happy with that then thats fine, if you want to have more rigid rules, then thats fine too. It's your project, you have to make it work for you and sometimes that might mean bending the rules a little.

6. Trust yourself.

When I started planning a photography course (that never really happened, sorry guys...) the main thing I want to share with people - about film photography and any hobby/ skill is to trust yourself.  You are amazing and capable of such wonderful things - you can take photos that you will love and you've got this! Its amazing what a tiny amount of commitment, dedication and self belief can do.

7. Something will go wrong at some point. 

A lot can happen in a year right? I started my project with a jamming shutter using my OM-10 (boo)... not the best way to start. All you can do is try and be as prepared as you can be and try not to get too upset when it happens. I'm genuinely amazed I haven't had more issues with film, scanning, cameras etc with my 366 project, but I've tried to be realistic about my expectations rather than idealistic and naive. Plan for the best, prepare for the worst and usually you'll end up happily surprised somewhere in the middle :)
(Pretty sure there is a quote similar to that somewhere...)

8. Some photos won't work out and you'll hate them.

This isn't just project related I'm afraid, this happens ALL the time. Its a part of the creative process I guess.

9. Plan ahead with prompts if you are feeling stuck or blocked...

Is something there that shouldn't be? Should something be there that isn't? If you're taking colour photos - what colours are catching your eye? Pick a colour and look for it.
If you're using black and white - what textures can you see? What contrasts are there - light against dark? Have you been here before, if so, whats different? If not, whats new and exciting?
Look at people, look at buildings, look at small details, look at the big picture, look up, look down, take a deep breath...

Try and think of things you like to photograph and look for them - for me its dogs, flowers and textures. Think of things you struggle to take photos of and take them - for me that is people definitely. I didn't do this much but if you're stuck then its an option.

9a. Plan ahead with getting out there!

Walk somewhere, visit somewhere new, plan adventures on your weekends... try and think ahead as much as you can in terms of getting out there, visiting interesting places and keeping yourself excited about the project.  Don't make things a lot harder for yourself by getting bored of taking the same photos over and over.

10. Take the ugly/bad photos

I guess this follows on from the very first point I made... but as time as moved on, I've realised that the photos I've learnt the most from during my project has been the ones where I've pushed myself to take photos I would previously never have taken. These photos and bad days are an opportunity to push your comfort barriers and see what else you can do in more challenging situations. Ultimately what you learn from these days will contribute to your good days and amazing photos. Sometimes learning what you love means learning the things you don't first... 

And finally...and kind of obviously... ALWAYS have a camera on you and take a damn photo every day!

 Out and about with my trusty Canon EOS 750 :)

Out and about with my trusty Canon EOS 750 :)

Any photo... of anything. Good, bad, ugly, boring, amazing... it doesn't matter. Commit to this project and take the damn photo every day (life permitting, see #5). Remember your ultimate goal is 365 days taking 1 photograph a day. Not 365 amazingly beautiful and stunning photos that will blow everyone away. No one can do that without burning out/ quitting / hating their project... and you want to complete this project. So take any photo every day and think of the long game.  It seems simple right? But its so easy to get caught up in that one photo that you forget about the ultimate goal quickly. The more you do it, the stronger a habit it will become and although it doesn't get easier to find a photo, it doesn't always seem as hard to look.

Oh as well as having a camera on you at ALL times -  if you're using film, always have an extra film with you too - and buy your film in bulk :)

I think that covers everything I want to say without repeating myself (too much) so I think I'll round this post up with these solid points and instead open this post to comments and questions about how my project was? And I'll answer those questions in a week or so. I've already has some questions from Twitter, so please do add any if you have some!