Thursday, January 13, 2011

What I Learned From Project 365

As you know, I completed Project 365 for 2010. And I learned quite a few things. Although the year has already started, I thought that for anyone wanting to do a Project 365 (or even a Project 52), that I would impart those lessons I learned while doing this project. ^_^ And remember, you can start Project 365 any time you want!

What I learned from Project 365 (in no particular order):

1. Take your camera with you everywhere!! Luckily, my purse was big enough to hold my camera, along with all the normal things I carry (wallet, small makeup bag, etc.). This, I think, is the number one thing. Because you never know when you're going to see something interesting that you'll want to take a shot of.

2. Be aware of your surroundings, at all times. It's easy to get caught up with our every day lives, and just focus on the task at hand (going to/from work, or going to the grocery story, etc.) that we sometimes don't look around just a bit to see what's interesting. And don't forget to look up, as well. (That's how I got the really cool Birds on a Wire shot.) You never know what's in that field across from your house; what's just a few feet away in the grocery store parking lot; what's up in the air, at the moment. Look around and notice!

3. It gets a little easier once you've done it for a little while. I know of so many people who have started Project 365 and then fizzled out on it. I can totally understand it! I learned to really focus at the beginning and be very aware, so that I wouldn't miss a day. After a few months, it was pretty much constant in my mind.

4. Get your shot in earlier in the day, rather than later. This kind of goes along with the previous one, but I found that if I thought about getting the shot in the early part of the day, not only would I have some natural light to work with, but I wouldn't be scrambling around late at night to get something photographed (it did happen on occasion and many of those pictures I was less than happy about).

5. Plan ahead (especially for those harder days), if you need to. Yes, part of Project 365 is the spontaneity, but not necessarily. There's nothing that says you can't have a running theme, or particular subject in mind (whether for the whole project, or just one month, or one week). It can make things easier! I discovered that Sundays were my hardest days for Project 365, because my Sundays tend to be pretty sedate, and I don't do much except go to church. I finally found that those days were good for taking Sunday drives around my town (and neighboring ones), to discover things of interest (whether an unusual house in an otherwise traditional neighborhood, or a cute downtown area of a small suburban town). I also sometimes kept any object I wanted to photograph (purchase, or gift) for Sundays.

6. It can be okay to fudge a little. So I may receive some flack for this one, but it's MY Project 365, so there! But I think there are times when you just cannot be perfect! In 365 days, something might go amiss -- from sickness, to bad days, to forgetfulness, life happens! So don't beat yourself up if you somehow miss a day. I myself have taken a picture several minutes after midnight, and therefore it technically not being that day anymore, but I still counted it. I have also forgotten a day or two. You make it work for you like you can (like writing a note how you missed that day and taken a photo of it, etc.). It's fine. NOW, if you miss several days in a row, well .... Don't know what to tell ya then. ^_^

7. Your pictures don't always have to be interesting. This project is about documenting your life. Most of us don't live glamorous lives. Life just is. But, as mentioned before, if you look around, something may catch your eye and become something interesting.

8. Even if you don't think your photo is interesting, a little tweaking can help it. A little post processing can help a photo. Oh, I know there are purists who will tell you that a good photo doesn't need it. But, turning something to black and white, or to sepia, or giving it a vintage or retro wash can really make something boring, to interesting.

9. This is a chance to experiment and learn to take better photos and make better use of your camera. Vary the shots between portrait and landscape. Take pictures from different angles. Hold your camera up high, point it down and shoot. Hold your camera down low, point up and shoot. Put it on the ground. Hold it at your hip. Get on the level of what you're shooting for more interest (most helpful for babies and pets). If you have a DSLR, look at some blogs for tips and tricks on how to use it better. Does your point and shoot have some manual settings? Try them!

10. Have fun! One of the other more important items. If you start thinking of this as a chore, and you're starting to hate having to remember your camera or take photos, then by all means, stop the project. This project is meant to be fun, but also a way to document your life (hey, it's another way to journal). But it shouldn't feel like a hassle. Oh, sure, sometimes it might feel like something you HAVE to do, but most of the time, you'll enjoy that it's something you need to do, to see what next you can capture about your life.

I may add more, but I think 10 is a good number. I also don't think any of these are earth-shattering. I may add, not so much as a learned thing, but as a tip, that it's a good idea to post these somewhere publicly, whether Flickr or Facebook (I link my Flickr site to FB), or a blog, so that others can see what you're up to. The encouragement from others is a great help in soldiering on. ^_^


Original template © to

Back to TOP