I have just finished my third 365 project, only this year I really have managed 365 (well, actually 366 given it is a leap year) photographs, as opposed to the previous two years where I accidentally-on-purpose took a month or so off. Whilst this page usually shows you my work as a Hertfordshire family photographer, I thought I’d give a little insight into what a 365 is, why I take part and some helpful tips to anyone who is thinking about launching into one themselves.
As I’m sure you have worked out, a 365 project is where you take a photo every day. No set subjects, although my children do feature in most of the pictures, and no real rules. There are two huge reasons for a project like this – the first is simple and one that I talk about all the time: creating memories. I want my children to be able to look back in years to come and see the love and the fun and the arguments and the mess and family life in all its glory.
The second is for the enormous growth that your photography goes through when you commit to a project like this. You have to experiment and play with new ideas to keep yourself motivated and this helps your skills to increase hugely.
At the end of the year, when you print your project, you can hold a year of your life in your hands, and that really is something.
The idea of a 365 can be very daunting! So I have put together some tips to help you on your journey. These are mostly geared towards people who use a DSLR camera, but you can adapt to phone photography too.
Take small steps
- Be kind to yourself and start by just tackling January. I know this sounds silly, but give yourself an easy goalpost to start with. 365 days is daunting, but if you can take a photo each day in January, maybe, just maybe, you can keep going into February and beyond. I trick myself like this every year…
Find your cheerleaders
- Find a group to keep you motivated. There are lots of groups on Facebook and Instagram. Some offer daily prompts, some are simply there to motivate and encourage you to continue. My 365 group have become close friends, especially after the year we have had (#thanks2020) and I can’t quite imagine life without them. To be successful in a 365, you need some cheerleaders.
Surgically attach your camera
- Well, perhaps don’t go that far, but do find somewhere to keep your camera so that it is always close to hand. If you keep it zipped in a bag upstairs in your wardrobe, you are not going to remember to use it. Keep it on a shelf in the kitchen and you will not have to reach far when you spot the perfect moment to capture. This is a good argument for using your phone, too; the camera that is always in your pocket.
Buy a camera bag that you are actually going to use
- I have a really nice handbag from Camera Chick that has a purpose-made camera pouch, which can fit the camera plus everything I would normally want when going out and about, so there is more incentive to take the camera out of the house. I bought mine a few years ago so had to get it from Australia, but there are more local options these days!
Set yourself some goals
- This is so important to keep you motivated! You really do need some goals to push you to keep going. Do you want to explore macro photography? Learn how to use a new lens? Experiment with motion blur? Or perhaps learn how to shoot in manual if you don’t already – and if you want to learn I can highly recommend Photography for Parents.
Set up an organised filing system
- If you are saving your photos all over the place, you are never going to get them back into one place to print them all out at the end of the year (trust me). I have a folder called 2020, and then sub-folders for each month. I save my photos with the date and a short descriptive title, like ‘3 – playing in snow’ so that I can find them easily. There are days when I take lots of photos, for example when on holiday, and on those days I create another sub-folder. You can see what I mean in the photo below. When it comes to creating a photo book at the end of the year, I can smugly drag and drop each folder in turn!
Cull, cull, cull!
- Leading on from the last tip is: cull like mad! It can be so hard to cull your photos. You invested time in them, and isn’t that photo showing a slightly different cute expression than that one? But you need to be ruthless – are you going to print those five similar photos, or in reality just the best one? Culling helps you to better understand what you like in a photo and can be a learning tool in itself, and it can also help you to start being more thoughtful and take just one great photo where you used to take ten of the same thing. BACK EVERYTHING UP. Oh I really can’t say this enough. Whether you buy an external hard drive (Seagate are good), use a cloud based service like Amazon video or Google drive, or just put everything on Facebook or Instagram, set something up and remember to do it! How would you feel if your computer packed up on December 29th and you lost all that investment? I feel a bit sick just thinking about it!
So are you going to go for it? Even if you just manage January, just think of all the moments that you will have captured that wouldn’t have been saved otherwise. At the end of the month you can look back on all those memories and perhaps have the motivation to keep it up for the full 365. I’ve got your back!
To find out more about my work, visit my website www.alannahtakesphotos.com, or you can follow me on Instagram: @alannahhebbertphotography for professional work, and @alannahtakesphotos for my personal projects.