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11 Tips to Succeed with a Photo365 Project

Whether you call it a Photo 365 or a Photo A Day (PAD) project the net result is the same, a photo for every day of the year. These types of photo projects are menacing at first thought, but provide a fantastic opportunity to explore and learn not just photography, but creative seeing and post-productions skills. Here are 11 tips to get the most out of any future Photo365 / Photo A Day project you undertake this year.

1. Maintain A Heightened Awareness

At every moment of the day keep your eye open with a photo in mind. Look for the obscure moments or observations that you might otherwise let go by with out a second glance. Training your eye and brain in this way is where a Photo365 / Photo A Day project can help you improve as a photographer the most. Taking great photography can’t happen if you never see or never know when to react.

11 Tips to Succeed with a Photo365 Project
Featured are photos of a Photo365 project now on its 3rd consecutive year
taken by Noel Kleinman of his son from birth to today

Happy Feet – Day 1/365 Year 1
© Noel Kleinman, All Rights Reserved – Used With Permission

2. Always Have Your Camera With You

Always have your camera with you through out the day. Don’t feel self conscious. Don’t get lazy. Don’t ever take a break. The one time you don’t have your camera with you is the one time you’ll wish you never left it behind. While Murphy’s Law is something you normally encounter from time to time, the frequency of taking photos every day means you’ll have many more opportunities to experience it. With a little discipline you can easily avoid Murphy’s Law moments.

3. There Is No Time Like the Present

Never say, ‘I’ll take a photo of that later.” or “I’ll take a photo of that on my way back.” Take the photo while the idea is in your head and the light is right. Moments of inspiration seldom come at convenient times and light conditions are seldom ever exactly the same twice in a day.

4. Train Your Eye To See Light

Learn how to get the most out of the light whether sunny, overcast, or any thing in between. Learning how to get the most out of high contrast and low contrast lighting situations is a great way to broaden your photographic opportunities. In addition experiment and make use of off camera lighting to supplement the available light to you. I learned a lot forcing myself to take photos in all different lighting environments during my Photo365 / Photo A Day project several years ago and it helped make me a stronger photographer.

5. Experiment! Don’t Stay In Your Comfort Zone

Break out and risk the bad shot to learn something new. Taking the same photos over and over again because you’re comfortable taking them will not improve your photography and it won’t increase interest in your work. Step out of your comfort zone to try new things. Doing this is not dependent on buying new equipment rather opening your eyes to new styles and new subjects.

11 Tips to Succeed with a Photo365 Project
Jack & Barack 08 – Day 81/365 Year 1
© Noel Kleinman, All Rights Reserved – Used With Permission

6. Make Use of Weekly Themes

365 unique photos is a sizable goal. If you’re running thin on ideas think in terms of weekly themes. Take photos of a particular location, a color, portraits of family & friends, pet photos, macros, hidden letters, etc. Sometimes an infinite number of subjects are more easily pared down when thought of in terms of themes. Themes offer a sense of order and predictability providing incremental steps bringing you closer to your end goal.

7. Plan Ahead & Write Down Ideas

Rather than wait for inspiration to find you plan ahead and write down ideas for future photos in a notebook. This is great practice for normal photo shoots and will reinforce creative thinking. Reviewing previously documented photo ideas will prove to be a great resource when spontaneous ideas are few and far between.

8. Edit & Post-Process Every Week

In order to avoid backlogs edit & post-process you photos weekly if not daily. Getting into a rhythm on editing & post-processing is key to completing your Photo365 / Photo A Day project. For many taking photos is the easy part, but editing & processing the photos is the challenge. For every photo you publish you’re likely to have many others that don’t make the cut. Getting into a rhythm to select your final photos and processing them in a timely fashion will make the difference between success and failure.

9. Add Notes to Your Photos

When posting daily photos online add notes as to what you thought worked or didn’t from your days photos. Post general photo shoot and camera setting info from your EXIF data, you’ll look back on this later to refresh your memory or to see how far you’ve come. Anecdotal stories are also great information to look back on. Understanding how, why and when you photographed your subject provides insight to your creative thinking that you can’t get from EXIF data.

10. Get Into A Rhythm & Have Fun

Make sure to have fun during your year long photo project. The moment it becomes work the more challenging completing a Photo365 / Photo A Day project becomes. Getting into a rhythm can help a great deal in lowering the perceived level of effort to get your daily photos in. Whether you’re heading out to explore during your lunch break, taking a 10 minute detour in your commute or even taking 365 self-portraits, knowing that you have time dedicated to get your photo(s) in takes a lot of stress out of the process. If you’re the more spontaneous type then build in an extra 10-20 minutes into your appointment schedule to stop and explore with your camera. As with life ones destination is often far less interesting than the journey.

11 Tips to Succeed with a Photo365 Project
Jack in the Box – Day 236/365 Year 3
© Noel Kleinman, All Rights Reserved – Used With Permission

11. Start Today

Here is the best thing about a Photo365 / Photo A Day project, you can start ANY day of the year. Most frequently people associate these projects with New Years, but there is no rule as to when you have to start a project such as this. While it may seem overwhelming take the plunge and start your Photo365 / Photo A Day project today.

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Jim Goldstein
Jim Goldstein

is a San Francisco based professional photographer. An author as well as a photographer Jim has been published in numerous publications including Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photo Pro, Popular Photography and has self-published a PDF eBook Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time covering numerous slow shutter techniques. His latest work and writing can be found on his JMG-Galleries blog and on 500px

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