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!

A few things I've learnt from a year (or so) of scanning my own negatives

I don't talk as much about my photography on my blog anymore - of how I feel and my process - I've said it before here - and its always a similar vain - I'm constantly searching for something.   My film photography process is a completely emotional and intuitive process - I love it and my results are as authentically me as I ever feel but I don't really think I can say it any better than in those previous posts. 

If you're not in the mood for rereading my old posts (I totally would if I was you but then I think I read them more than anyone else anyway ha) here is a highlight of how I feel about taking photos. I'm a sap I know...

To me, each photo I take is like falling in love - you're constantly search for it - everywhere you go - even if you aren't aware that you are... sometimes you can't see it, sometimes you find it in one step, sometimes you have to work a bit harder, perhaps challenge your preconceptions and break some of your own rules... but just like love - no one can tell you when you've found that perfect photo, you just know it... through and through!

Although this is still so very true for me, scanning my films has changed things and my perspective quite a bit... Not the process, not completely how I take photos but the process after that - its all completely different from before.

In 2011 I wrote that editing my photos riled me up - and it still does ha, don't get me wrong - but now its for a completely different reason.

In 2011 the company that developed my negatives scanned my photos - the final result was completely out of my hands and I was totally OK with that - it was quick, easy and I was getting results I loved. 

Now - 5 years later - I'm scanning my own photos... the control is completely mine and here's a few things I've learnt.

  • All my photos before I got my scanner were more than likely auto corrected and auto colour balanced. I have no idea how I feel about a lot of them now - or even about lot of the films I used. It feels like I'm starting everything all over again. This partly makes me want to cry and partly excites me.
  • Scanning colour film takes forever. Not just the physical scanner process - but setting the colours correctly once the preview has run and then trying to balance the colours once more once you've scanned the image. It doesn't help that I am turning into a perfectionist about it all either. If I don't feel like they look right - they don't look right and I can spend ages trying to find the photo I took within the image the scanner gives me.
  • Generally my exposure is pretty good (thank goodness for that). Having 6 years of film photography experience before scanning my own negatives has definitely been an advantage for my current photo results. Most of my editing is about the final look of colours - not brightness/contrast/exposure etc.
  • Dust is the devil. And so is my own laziness at wiping my negatives and scanner between each scan. I'm getting better at this definitely... wipe your scanner and negatives people!
  • In some ways - the type of film I'm using means less to me now - scanning my own colour films is helping me develop my own style of colour palette in more ways than I ever imagined it would. I had a vague idea before but now I'm getting a feel for what I like and don't like in a much more sensitive and aware way.
  • I DO NOT like green colour shifts (also why I'm not a huge fan of Lomo Xpro film). And a lot of my films from the last year I want to rescan because its honestly killing me that my photos aren't quite perfect.  I can see that I'm so close to the final image being how I want it - but I just can't get it right. Its infuriating. I'm starting to figure out curve editing which is resolving the green shift but still, argh!
  • Instagram is a surprisingly good colour editor - a slight tweak in warmth on their editing and boom, green shift gone - the results on my Instagram are much closer to how I want them to look than on here - and luckily thats where most people seem to see my photos ha. 
  • If I won the lottery theres a huge risk I would spend most of my days rescanning all my photos. Which would take a long time. But be totally worth it... (I'd also buy more cameras and film and take even more photos... man it would be amazing.)
  • Scanning my own photos has made me appreciate every single image so much more and also made me consider the final shot more before I take the photo. Knowing that each photo I take is going to take up a lot of my time after I've taken it in the scanning/editing process means that each one has to be a photo I really like and want to spend that time on. That has admittedly been a bit more challenging with my 366 project (some of them I've definitely phoned in) but over all, I take less photos now than I did a few years ago. I'm OK with that.
  • Despite colour film being so difficult to scan - I think that colour film is my favourite. I love black and white and use it more in the winter months, but gosh, I do love colours. My colour photos when scanned how I really want them to look provoke a feeling in me almost like a gut punch in the stomach - I feel a little like I can't quite catch my breath and I totally forget about everything other than how I'm feeling in that moment looking at my photo. 
  • Comparison is indeed the thief of joy. Whilst I was part of the Film Shooters Collective (sadly I'm not anymore due to time constraints - hopefully this isn't a long term situation - but I still highly recommend you check it out if you love film) it was an amazing resource for constant inspiration - however it was also quite intimidating to see other peoples photos they'd scanned themselves look SO perfect and well balanced.  Remembering that everyone, including me, is on their own journey was sometimes quite difficult.
  • I always knew that any creative process was just that - a process - but trying something new and a different way of doing things has totally cemented the idea that I am always going to be learning with my photography and I'm always going to be evolving and perfecting.

This post has ended up being huge - so I'll conclude on this final point which I think is the most important lesson. Photography is photograpy. Whatever you use - film or digital, your phone or a toy camera - it takes time, knowledge and understanding to create a photo you love. The level of commitment to any of those things is your choice and the tools you use is your choice as well. Maybe one day I'll try digital and find it represents me just as well as film, I'll definitely know how I want to edit my photos if I do ha. But right now, this is where I am - using film and scanning my own negatives - and I'm happy with that - green colour shifts and all.