As I come upon the end of my second 365 photography project, I decided to take a few moments to reflect not only on what I have learned about myself and my art, but also on what I have learned about making a project like this successful.
As so many of you know, a 365 is a major undertaking! 365 days of shooting…..and all that editing! But the rewards are so wonderful. I firmly believe a 365 is the greatest way to achieve personal growth – and it is a beautiful gift to you and your family. Further, I find that each year my 365 is without a doubt my most fulfilling project.
Through this project I have grown so much as an artist, but I have also grown as a person….as a mother. My 365 helps me to be present…..it allows me to press pause on a ride that is otherwise going a million miles an hour. Capturing my family’s “everyday” really helps me appreciate that who we are in this moment is beautifully different from who we were yesterday and who we will become tomorrow. I can now better see myself and my children through the small, beautiful moments that color our days. I feel the fleeting nature of their youth, but I know that I am more present than ever in each moment – truly experiencing what is before me.
Through this project I have also found my artistic voice……a quest I once thought had no end. Although I continue to grow as an artist every single day, I now feel confident in expressing the way I see the world through my photographs. My style, my technique and my skill will continue to evolve, but through it all my voice is now always there.
So, after 730 successful days of shooting, here are some tips I’ve learned to help you succeed at your own 365:
1) Be realistic with yourself.
This is a major project. It’s not easy. It is a lot of work. Make sure you are mentally prepared for the effort that is ahead of you for the next 365 days. It’s exciting and very rewarding – but it is also a lot of work. As long as you are prepared for that reality, you can do this.
2) The best camera is the one you have with you.
There are going to be times when it’s not practical to bring your DSLR along. Or maybe the moment worth capturing that day happens when you are out playing in the yard without your camera near you. It’s the moment that matters most. Capture it however you can. When you use your phone, just be sure to import it into your editing software so that it becomes part of your project with the rest of your photos.
3) It’s ok not to edit every day.
You will have days where you snap your photo of the day and go running to your computer to edit it right away from the sheer excitement of seeing the moment you’ve captured. There will also be days when you simply don’t have the time or the energy to go into Lightroom and work through your photos. All of that is ok! Edit when you can, and of course, don’t let the editing pile up too much (I never let myself get more than a week behind), but cut yourself slack when you need it. Just don’t stop shooting!
4) Stay Organized.
Have a system for keeping your photos organized in Lightroom (or whatever editing software you choose). In Lightroom I tag each of my 365 photos so that I can easily see the full collection of images. I also try and cull my images every day even if I don’t get around to editing them. I’ll import, cull and tag the images for my 365, and then edit as soon as time allows. It’s important not to let this project get away from you, and organization is key.
5) Consider joining up with a group of photographers to help hold you accountable, and to lift you up when you fall into a rut.
Join up with photographers through Facebook, a blog circle or the forum. There are weeks you may find yourself in a rut where you simply don’t like anything that you are shooting, and I can promise you that everyone who has taken on a 365 knows this feeling! Talking to other photographers who understand you and can help push you through the inevitable ruts is invaluable.
6) Share your photos.
Share them on your blog, on your business page,on your personal Facebook page…..anywhere you are comfortable. Just share them. Let the world know you are doing this project. You will receive support and motivation from those around you and this encouragement will really help you stick with it.
And remember, opening your heart and soul will always lead to your greatest work.