Completing a daily shooting photography project is no easy task.
However, with just a bit of planning you, too, can accomplish this popular goal and see huge growth in your photography work. I’m going to highlight nine tips that have worked for me as I approach the completion of my second 365 project.
1. Brainstorm and get organized before you begin.
I highly recommend doing some brainstorming of ‘dream images’ as well as making notes about small details about your life, town, or children that you would love to photograph. This will help you to have ideas of subjects to photograph when you may be lacking in inspiration. (You can also reference the many daily shooting prompts available online.)
Plan out how you will stay organized during your 365 and think of a way to be able to find your images quickly. If you use Lightroom, I would recommend adding a keyword of ‘365’ or something similar to your images so that you can find the whole collection quickly.
A great system for file naming upon export is key at the beginning as well. I use this system “16-366-2016-Jan16-Print.jpg” (the day #-366-year-date-quality of image) to keep the files in order in one folder. I exported my files for print along the way since I was adding watermarks (and this system kept the images in chronological order by date). But, you could skip this step and just ensure you keyword your images.
2. Make daily shooting your ONLY requirement.
When committing to my first 365 in 2015, I wanted to set myself up for success so I tried to really make my only requirement daily shooting. I knew that for my lifestyle, uploading, editing, and posting daily were not in the cards, so I chose parameters that I knew I could more easily attain. Initially, I had a goal of editing and exporting images once per week.
3. Don’t let missing one or two days derail your project.
Please don’t feel discouraged that at the beginning of the project it might not look like much more than a random collection of images. As you get further into it though, you will actually begin to see a sense of your style coming through. You will notice trends in colors, types of light, and repeated compositions that you gravitate towards. By the end, I promise you will see an amazing amount of growth in your photography that would be hard to see without the set of collected images. It’s also important to note that missing a day here or there may feel like a big deal at the time, but you won’t notice it when you have 300+ images.
Tip: If at 10 pm you realize that you haven’t taken a photo that day… get creative! Bust out your iPad or iPhone as a light source! Photograph the baby monitor. Look out your window at your neighborhood etc. Or, decide that you’re taking that day off. It’s okay. It’s your project.
Sometimes on days when I photograph clients I forget to take personal images for my 365. There are a few different ways to work around this. You can include client images in your 365 (with a model release of course). Or, while you’re out shooting a client session look for a detail shot of foliage or an interesting street sign. It could even be a self-portrait of your shoes, your latte, or your gear! If you grab those quick images you’ll have a backup in case you don’t shoot for yourself later. And, those images tell your life story, too!
Personally, my project revolves around my kids. And, last year I attended a photography retreat and was away from them for a few days. Initially, I panicked about what I would photograph so I included the beach and a sunset from my day in the set of images. Looking back on those photos brings me back to the retreat experience every time.
4. Think about how to make the project easier on yourself.
I chose to add a watermark to my images with the day, time, and a little title. I love what this adds to the images but at the same time, it adds a major step to my process that takes time. So, in hindsight, I probably wouldn’t recommend it.
Also, be open about what images you will use. Take an amazing iPhone shot?? Yes, use it. Using an underwater point and shoot? Great!! Be creative, this is your project. Can’t choose between two images on a certain day? That’s okay! Include both! This is your project and you make the rules! (i.e. We took an epic vacation in Europe last summer and I included 10 photos on some of the days. I just had to.)
Also, I would highly recommend trying to shoot outside of your typical lighting comfort zone. Daily life happens everywhere, in all types of lighting. Sometimes you will create amazing images in lighting that you did not think would work: the grocery store, the stairs to the subway, your dentist’s office, etc. Sometimes the images fall flat. But, shooting in these various settings will make you a better, more flexible, and well-rounded photographer. And, by being open to all types of light, your options for where and when to photograph are endless.
5. Pack light.
I carry my dSLR, the Canon 5d Mark III, with me 98% of the time (and I just recently added a mirrorless system, the Fujifilm X-T1, for those times I don’t want to carry my DSLR). This way I can act fast when I see something that catches my eye, when I find an amazing mural, the light is just so, or when my kids are in a great mood and ready to be photographed.
Personally, I have absolutely no fear of taking my camera out in any location: Costco, Target, playground, public restroom, movie theater, Starbucks, airplane, taxi, etc… the list can go on forever. By being open to all locations you will find some great inspiration.
I found that I didn’t mind carrying my dSLR daily so long as I didn’t carry extra gear. What I discovered worked best for me was a padded camera insert that I could slip into any purse or backpack that I was using that day. I would commit to ONE lens.
For me, my most used lens is the Canon 24-70 2.8 II since it provides such a large level of flexibility in shooting, but some days I would take my Canon 135mm prime or a Lensbaby to try for a different look. I knew that I could commit to carrying my camera daily if I could let go of needing all my gear. Another great option is getting a small mirrorless system for daily shooting if carrying your DSLR everyday is too much.
6. You don’t have to share every image.
With Facebook and Instagram, sharing has become quite easy (and also expected of photographers). But, the good news is, you don’t have to share an image EVERY DAY. This puts a lot of pressure on a photographer/wife/mother/friend/partner who is already quite busy.
Think about the goals of your 365. Is it to find your shooting style? To learn and become faster at shooting manual? To capture your everyday? The truth of the matter is that you will not create portfolio worthy images every day (trust me, I don’t!!). Sometimes you are experimenting, and that is okay. By not having pressure to post, you give yourself room to explore and try new things. I have seen people share their ‘best of October’ or a grid of 9 images on Instagram that fit together nicely for the month. This can be a great way to share on social media without the pressure of doing it daily.
7. Put your 365 images into a collection of some sort.
When I started my first 365 I had loose goals of sharing weekly to Flickr for my friends and family, but this was more to have a home for my images all in one collection. This also made it easy to share the images from my phone with my kids as the year progresses. By having the images already in a collection, my kids were seeing the outcome of all of these photos and they loved it. Being able to see the set of images grow was rewarding and helped motivate me to keep going.
8. Think about a reward for the end of the project.
Now, I totally hear everyone’s brains starting to churn here… new lens, new camera bag, that fantastic watch, a special dinner. Those are all great motivating factors but I was thinking more along the lines of a gorgeous photo book for all of your images. Since I export for print along the way, I can start working on the book in the fall so that as the end of the year approaches, the book is almost complete. There’s nothing more satisfying than receiving that book of images before the end of January. (Of course, a collage canvas or wall gallery of favorites would be amazing, too! And with a wall gallery you could start printing right away!!)
9. Find support.
Support can come in many forms, but I believe that a project of this scope can use it. Talk to your family, friends, and partner about what the project entails, and what your goals are so that they are on board. Seek out a 365 group online in forums such as Clickin Moms or on Facebook. Reach out to other photographers (or me!!) who have completed a 365 if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired, they will help to get you excited about the project again.
Remember, this is YOUR project. You make the rules.
Set yourself up for success by shooting daily, with whatever gear you have on hand. Don’t feel like you are required to share every image on social media. Do some brainstorming of dream photos and plan your file organization from the beginning. Pack light, reach out for help and support if needed, and reward yourself for a project well done!
I hope some of these tips were helpful and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to tag me and ask away! I can’t wait to see what projects you all complete next year!