1. Shoot Manual
No matter if you usually shoot manual or not, doing it throughout the project will boost your confidence and proficiency with your camera. And while it might be confusing at first it will definitely teach you a lot about photography in general.
2. Set Goals
Setting goals is what drives you through the project. Without goals, what’s the point? Even if the goal is: I’d like to take some time for myself. I wrote a whole article about how to find a set of core goals over here.
3. Keep Editing to a Minimum
I chose not to edit a single photo in my project which really pushed me to take the time to select the proper settings and ultimately taught me much more than if I had just taken a quick shot because I knew I could edit it later to make it look the way I wanted. If you are going for a certain look you will learn to only go shoot at a certain time of day and set the settings accordingly. Of course there are boundaries to this approach but I challenge you to meet those boundaries before taking the easy way out. If you would like to use this project to push your editing skills or create digital art it might be a bit different but getting the best shot you possibly can in camera will make the editing process much easier as well.
4. It's Impossible to Perfectly Recreate a Scene
Something I definitely learned the hard way is that no matter how hard you try – you will NEVER be able to recreate a scene perfectly on another day. You can get close maybe but it's impossible to copy something you have previously done. The reason I'm telling you this is because it will happen that at the end of the day you are facing the decision between two photos. Let's say one you took in the morning of the mountain range you drove through on the way back from a camping trip. One you took that same evening during golden hour in your backyard of a blade of grass. The photo of the mountains is okay, the blade of grass looks killer. Now you might think: “But I won't be back in the mountains for a while and I can always get a shot of grass another day.” You won't. The way the light hit the blade of grass that day, the fact that a small cloud created a shadow, so the background is slightly darker, making the blade really stand out and another million details I don't want to list now – all of that, you will never be able to recreate the same way you loved in the first photo. So pick the one you love so much, you would hang it on your wall.
5. Share Your Photos
Share your photos no matter what. When a photo didn’t turn out the way you imagined or even if you are sure it really sucks – put it out there anyway. Sometimes how you perceive your images is not at all how others see them, sometimes your photos do suck and you have to get over it. Either way, it makes you stronger. Just get up the next day and try to be better.
6. Establish a Routine
At the beginning it seems like a project 365 is very time consuming. If you actually want to create a photograph rather than snap a shot, you need to take the time to actually take the photo, store them somewhere, pick one, upload it and if you share it on Instagram, find good hashtags to go with it. Which is probably the most time consuming out of all, when you start at zero. Creating a solid routine minimizes the time it takes you from grabbing your camera to posting it online. Don’t worry if this sounds overwhelming. There will be a post on every part of my routine coming up. But until then, try to establish your own.
7. Keep a Photo Journal
Keeping a journal with everything you learn and experience throughout the project is a great way to create your own education resource. I honestly wish I had started one way back when I started the project but I thought I wouldn’t need to write dow what I’d learned because I now knew, so what’s the point? Well, there are so many little tiny things that you learn and might forget until you encounter the same situation again. So get yourself a notebook and keep short, simple notes. A photo journal is good for much more than just the project 365 though. I have written more in depth about it here:
7. Create a Shot List
Write down things in your surroundings you find inspiring or interesting looking. And write down things that might not be in your vicinity but things that you love looking at. Like the ocean or old libraries. This will help you find things to photograph easier than getting up every day and not knowing what to take a picture of. Start on the way to the grocery store, to work or on any other path you take frequently and note what looks interesting to you on the way. You can then go back later and look at that blooming tree or whatever you noted with your camera.
8. Don't Beat Yourself Up
Of course I am always aiming to create the best photograph I can at any given day. But there are limits, like the fact that you can’t spend the entire day on this project or maybe you have forgotten about taking a picture and now it is dark out and you need to work with terrible indoor lighting if you don’t yet have a studio. Long story short, there are always days where the photo you create isn’t up to your standards. But guess what? It doesn’t matter. You still need to post it (see above “Share Your Photos”) and just try to do better next time. Don't beat yourself up too much.
10. Keep Going If You Miss a Day
I used to feel like I failed whenever I didn’t follow through with something as consistent as I had set out to. Apart from our wedding day, I actually didn’t miss a single day of my project 365 but even if you do: Don’t beat yourself up. You can always add the missed photo to the end of the project. You will regret quitting more than missing that one photo. Just move on and keep going.
I have so many more tips to share with you but I don't want to make this one too long. So, these are my top 10 and I hope you find them useful.
Your creative companion,