A Photo Each Day, Everyday, for a whole year.

Water Droplets Macro

… welcome to the photographers challenge of choice, the 365 Project.

I mentioned in my first post that I would soon follow-up with my views and experiences (so-far) of undertaking a 365 Project, well here it is.

First off, what is a 365 Project assuming you don’t already know? Essentially the clue is in the blog title, a photo each day for the whole year, how hard can that be? We all have a phone/smartphone with a camera in-built and it’s conveniently by our side almost 24 hours per day so all we need to do is take a pic each day job done. Technically I guess that would fit the bill but for me you need to have an objective in mind before starting such a project.

So what was my objective? After re-igniting my interest in photography a few years ago I thought I should look to set myself a challenge that would develop my skills.  I’ve never taken any formal photography training but I do understand the basics and have invested time thoroughly understanding my camera and settings. However one area that I think really makes the difference for most things in life is practice and for me a 365 Project was the perfect challenge.  You rarely hear photographers talk about practicing their art but you’d never envisage a sports professional, musician etc not investing their time practicing in order to develop and enhance their skills.  It’s quite obvious when you think about it, the more you get out there to take some photos and try new styles and techniques the more you will develop “your eye” and gain a greater understanding of your equipment.

Sunset at Duck Key

Are there any rules?  I’m sure some will suggest there are specific rules to completing a 365 project for me though I think it is best to keep it simple.  Set the rules yourself and align them to your initial objective whilst avoiding rules that could ultimately constrain your progress.  My own rules were simple, a picture per day for the whole year.  I didn’t constrain myself to the equipment used, particular subjects or styles.  If I didn’t have my DSLR with me I’d use my Smartphone.

How’s it going? Currently I’m 72% into the challenge (day 265 of 365).  I’ve shot using my Canon EOS 550D, Canon EOS 70D, Canon SX210 IS and my Samsung Galaxy S3. I’ve not limited myself to a particular style and have tried a number of new techniques that I’d never tried before including macro, astrophotography and frozen time.  I’ve also taken shots at my first wedding gig (for a friend… that’s another blog subject in its own right)  and had a few of my pictures published. So all in all I think it is going pretty well.  But am I achieving my initial objective?

In terms of developing “my eye” I’ll leave that for you to decide.  My 365 Project Photo’s are being published on my Flickr Site under my Project 365 Set so feel free to take a look, feedback is always welcome.  With respect trying new styles and techniques I’ve attempted some nightscape shots including a fly-by of the International Space Station, frozen water droplet shots and many macro shots using the relatively cheap method of using extension tubes.  Making the effort to learn new techniques has certainly been enjoyable and has increased my technical understanding of the art.

Water Drops frozen in time

What have I found difficult? Staying true to the challenge is not easy. As I mentioned above it would be quite easy to simply take a picture each day and leave it at that. But as you develop you also need to be critical of your own work.  I try not to post any old picture, I want to keep my images fresh and I found that as time goes by you get more critical of your own work. One early frustration for me was that it wasn’t practical to have my DSLR with me each day.  I wanted to get the best quality images when I was out and about but ultimately fell into the trap of thinking it was the gear that was giving me the best pictures and not my own skill.  As the saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you and I now know that by being limited sometimes to my smartphone and point-shoot camera was no reason for not getting a good shot.  In some ways this limitation actually helps you develop a better “eye” as you need to think more about the shot and work with the limitations of your equipment.  The other frustration is one that hits us all…. the dreaded creative block.  Trying to find something new and different everyday can sometime seem to be an impossible task.  The best advice is to change you perspective, look at common everyday things from a different angle, get in close, at ground level or close and wide to get a completely different view.

Would I recommend it? In a word yes. If you want to set yourself a challenge that will help you improve and is essentially free, give it a go.  Set your own rules and if 365 is too daunting why not go for a 52 project e.g. a picture per week?  Also why not have a read of the many others blogging about 365 projects in the related links section below.

All photos show are available to license and buy via my website www.8dcphotography.co.uk.  The continuing story of my 365 Project is published to my Flickr pages. Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment and provide feedback…… in my next blog I’ll give my first impressions of Canon’s latest DSLR the Canon EOS 70D.