Doing a 365 photos project

Should you do it? Maybe. It’s not for everyone. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

I’ll confess, I tried twice, and I failed both times. But in doing so, I learned a buttload. In my first attempt, I started by photographing random objects. And about a month in, I got bored. I had no specific object or goal. It was aimless and uncreative.

So I skipped a day and said I’d take two the next day. And the following day, I had no ideas and said I’d do three tomorrow. You can see where this is going, I’m sure.

The second attempt lasted a lot longer. This time I chose a specific subject to photograph. Me. Self portraits. It was still tough because I really wanted to do more than just passport photos, I wanted to be adventurous and creative. This time, I wrote up a list of ideas for projects I wanted to do. On days I was really stuck, I’d look at that list and pick one from it. It’d could be something as simple as “reenact a scene from Red Riding Hood” (which consisted of me running around in a woodsy area with a red scarf) to an elaborate “giant mousetrap for humans with an expensive item for bait” – that one I never did because I couldn’t find a components or figure out how to construct it.

The second attempt lasted four months (although I had a few days where I barely made the midnight deadline!), and I’m very proud of these four months, until I had to take a 10-day vacation. And when I got back, the notion of making up those 10 days was daunting, and I kept putting it off. Discouraged, my daily SPs petered down to nil and I never caught up. For me, my weak point was discipline: when I slacked with the promise of playing catchup later, things went downhill from there.

I learned so much about photography while doing the daily SPs; I figured out posing issues, lighting, time management and the importance of props. The cons, for in my book: it was somewhat stressful. There were stretches where I didn’t have any ideas that really excited me, and I pestered my friends lamenting over that. And as mentioned, taking breaks turned out to be a bad idea for me.

If anyone is interested in portrait photography, but hasn’t quite broken into the paying field or you’re not comfortable asking a person to sit patiently for hours while you fiddle with lights, this is an excellent way to get started. It also helps you flex your creative muscle. If you don’t want to commit to taking a picture for 365 days, consider doing a 52-photos a year: once a week instead.

If I were to do this over – and I may still! – I would make two lists this time: a list of complicated ideas and concepts (along with items I need to find on the cheap) that I can shoot when I’ve a block of time and a much-longer list of simpler, easier but still creative ideas to shoot on daily basis. The easy stuff that doesn’t take up a tons of time and can be done quickly after a long workday.

In the next post about 365 projects, I’ll share concrete suggestions and ideas of how to stay on track. Stay tuned!

These are four examples of my SPs: