6 Tips for Doing a Successful 365 Photo Project

6 Tips for Doing a Successful 365 Photo Project


Happy New Year! This is a great time to start new projects – be it losing weight, getting fit by regularly exercising, committing to eating right, or improving and growing your photography knowledge and skill.

We all have many different goals when it comes to our passion for photography. A great way to get started is by working on personal and professional photography projects. One simple yet effective way to work on your photography skills is to participate in a 365 Photo Project. Quite simply, a 365, as it is most often called, is a commitment to take a photo a day for 365 days straight. You can get as specific or as general as you like in terms of what you photograph, when you photograph, or even how you photograph. There are no set rules – the only requirement being you must take at least one photo each day, that counts towards your 365.

365 Photo Collage

A small collage from my 365 project done in 2014.

That being said, there are some basic guidelines to successfully complete a 365 – a sort of dos and don’ts list, if you will.

#1 Be honest about why you want to do a 365

Talk to anyone, and you are bound to hear many different reasons why you should do a 365 photo project. Some people feel it improves your photography because you are consistently taking at least one picture a day. Others feel it is a fun way to document and record a year in your life. It is also a great way to experiment and learn about light, composition, subject, equipment, and develop and hone in on your observation skills.

Since you know you have to take at least one photo every day, you are constantly looking for good photo opportunities everywhere, and tend to become more observant of your environment. No matter what your reason, be very clear on exactly why you want to start a 365, and document that as part of the process. This will help clarify your goals, and make the process more enjoyable.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Memorable Jaunts DPS Article 365 Photo a day article 03

#2 Create a routine for your 365

Just like anything else in life, having a routine provides a sense of organization. Figure out when is your best time to photograph, and stick to that routine. For me, the best time is around 9:00-10:30 a.m. It is early enough in the morning when my brain is quite active, there are no distractions, and the morning light is quite clean and bright. Of course that is not to say that I don’t photograph at other times of the day, but when I am working on a project, or an assignment, that’s my go-to time. And yes, I do treat my 365 as an assignment. The only difference is that I am my own client!


My general task list for my 365 -generally, all it takes is 10 minutes of my time:

  • Shoot 365 photo – five minutes
  • Edit photo – two minutes
  • Load to Dropbox – 30 seconds
  • Post on Instagram – 30 seconds
  • Write a caption and one line description for the image – one minute
  • Add hashtags – one minute
  • Total – 10 minutes approximately

#3 Set your own prompts or join a 365 group

In my opinion, this is the hardest part of doing a 365. The proverbial, “What do I photograph?”. Luckily there are so many of us doing 365 projects, that there are online groups you can join to get daily or weekly prompts sent to your inbox. Here are a few:

The other option is to completely customize the project, and work from your own prompts, or inspirational triggers. You might only want to photograph your breakfast, your pet, or your children. You may want to focus on modes of transportation. No matter what the prompt, I recommend creating a list or a journal to document them. That way you know what you have already photographed, and what comes next.

Memorable Jaunts DPS Article 365 Photo a day article 07

I try to follow this general prompt weekly for my 365. Sometimes, I deviate from it, and for me that’s okay!

  • Monday – Inspire
  • Tuesday – Food
  • Wednesday – Nature of the outdoors
  • Thursday – Indoors
  • Friday – Family
  • Saturday – Personal
  • Sunday – Fun day (anything goes)

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#4 Choose the tools of the trade

Choose a camera – any camera! If you want to improve on your mobile camera skills go for it. Did you get a new camera for Christmas? Use a 365 photo project as a great way to learn the workings of your new toy. After all, practice makes perfect, and there is nothing like practicing everyday to get you comfortable with using that new camera.

Regardless of what tool you use, makes sure that it is something achievable. I find my DSLR to be cumbersome at times, and not easy to carry around with me for smaller errands in town. So instead, for my 365 photo project, I use a combination of iPhone and DSLR, which gives me the flexibility I need.

The other common question that most people want to know is how to document the project. My 365 medium of choice is Instagram. I love this platform, as it brings forth a great sense of community and creativity. By posting my images, and using the #365 hashtag, I am instantly part of a large group of people who are in the same project. It keeps me motivated and on track. I know a lot of people who post a collage of images on their social media channels, rather than a picture a day. This does not mean they don’t photograph one picture a day, but rather they just share their images once a week, or a month at a time.

Memorable Jaunts Gear for executing a 365 photo a day series article for DPS

These are the only two tools I use for my 365. When an image is from my DSLR, I can use the #dslr365 in Instagram to separate the two (not a required step but I like to do it just for my reference).

#5 Learn to forgive and move on

Who knew that doing a 365 can also be a great way to learn basic life lessons! The age old adage to forgive and forget is very relevant while participating in a 365. Sometimes things happen and you end up missing a day, or several days in a row. It is not the end of the world. Acknowledge it, accept it and move on. Either you can catch up, and post more than one picture the next day, or just mark it off as missed and go forward. The key here is to keep moving forward. Otherwise days turn into weeks, that turn into months, and before you know it, the 365 has long been forgotten and abandoned.

Memorable Jaunts Photo a day 365 example article for DPS

One of my favorites from my last 365. I did miss a few days here and there but the memories that I was able to capture still make me smile to this day!

#6 Success, completion, and what’s next

A 365 photo project is definitely a commitment. One that takes time and effort on your part, but the rewards are quite satisfying. To me, completing a 365 photo project provides a sense of achievement and accomplishment. In my mind it’s not an easy task, and I do celebrate my success!

Print all, or some of your best images, and create a collage of photos. Create a photo book specific to your 365. The possibilities are endless. My 365 photo project lives on my Instagram feed only, and I like printing my favorites. There are several companies that also provide the option of printing Instagram images. I have used Artifact Uprising in the past, but Blurb and Shutterfly are a few other companies that come to mind.

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Note: If you use Lightroom you can create a Blurb book and order it directly from within the software, all right from your original camera files.

Once you have completed your 365 photo series, my recommendation would be to take a break. Jumping right in to another 365 can be a bit much. That’s not to say that people don’t do it, and be successful. Many people absolutely love doing 365 photo projects, and have consistently done it for several years at a stretch.

Personally, I like a variety of challenges in my photographic journey. After completing a 365 photo project in 2014, I took a break and focused on other things. Now I am ready to get back into the game and will be starting a 365 photo series on my Instagram. Join me if you want to and lets motivate each other to take a photo a day for 365 days!

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Karthika Gupta is a lifestyle, wedding, and travel photographer based in the Chicago area. Her images are fun, fresh and natural and her love for nature makes it way into most of her images. She also has a Free Travel Photography Demystified E-Course a 5-Day video series to help you improve your travel photography.

  • cde

    It’s a leap year.

  • Yes it is 🙂 – one more photoaday to add to your project 🙂

  • David Thompson

    I decided to do a Project365 (or Project366 🙂 this year. A small group of FB friends did one a couple of years ago and we decided to try it again. It’s good motivation to shoot *something* every day and sometimes that’s simply a good exercise. It makes me put on my photographer’s eyes and look at the wonderful world around me.

    I usually use my iPhone for the capture because I always have it on me. But, sometimes I use either my compact camera or my ML camera if I’m being more serious about hunting for a capture. It really doesn’t matter; the important thing is to get out and shoot.

    David Hume Kennerly has an excellent book of images he produced using an iPhone. He basically did a Project365 of his own. The captures and stories are captivating, pun intended.

  • Tomek Go?dziewski

    For this kind of project i recommend https://tookapic.com/. It’s a app for this kind of stuff 🙂

  • I started in December as sort of a test run to see if I would be consistent. 32 days later and I haven’t missed a beat. I think the best advice that helped a lot was to look for something that makes your day special or different. Basically, what will stand out today that you’d want to remember. Made the project more a journey of appreciation. 🙂

    I wish everyone luck!

  • Michael Bone

    I’m not quite as ambitious to do a 365 photo – I’m doing a 52 photo. I’m challenging myself to shoot at least one Flickr-worthy photo a week. Too often I’ll go weeks without touching my camera due to lack of inspiration.

  • my3sons

    I’m in my 3rd year of doing a photo-a-day. I didn’t get 365 photos each year but I tried. And, in trying and working and learning, I am a better photographer. Finding inspiration is the toughest part but some of the best photos come from the common place. This year, I vow to get 365. I’m still always looking for inspiration and I thank you for writing this article.

  • ernldo

    Take a rest? I’m doing my fifth straight 365 (366 this year) project. I makes me get up, out and involved to find fresh ideas. Not always my best, but I am certainly familiar with my gear if nothing else…

  • Matt

    I just completed my first 365 in 2015. Some days it was a blessing and some days it was a curse. When I started I fully expected to be posting photos daily of my dog, objects around the house & office and food on a plate. After the first week, I began going out on my lunch hour and trying to find something more creative or an appealing landscape, and that’s all it took, the challenge was on. As the year went on it began to ware on my wife a bit. There were days where I would leave the house early, or go out after work and get home late, or go out right after dinner – and truthfully, it just became a burden on her to carry a lot of extra household responsibility. It’s a challenge I would try again, but not until I’m retired. There is just too much going on in my life, to take the time out and try to create something appealing every single day. Sure you could do that cell phone photo of the dog, or the object on the desk, but that just gets old rally fast. I suppose that’s the purpose of the challenge – to be challenged to be more creative and be challenge to use all the tool in your bag. There is no question that it will do that. I’d encourage anyone interested to try it, but I also give them a warning that it’s a pretty significant commitment. I don’t know if privacy filters will allow anyone to view this link, but here is my 365 from 2015. https://www.facebook.com/matt.emery.378/media_set?set=a.10204856668490534.1073741878.1653947666&type=3

  • Sona

    10 minutes….I dont think so. By the time I walk/drive somewhere, then look for inspiration etc. 10 minutes is way off for me.

  • TR Young

    I will be starting my 365 Challenge this evening. I am looking forward to it. Mine will be a fun memento, as I will be moving from North Central Pennsylvania to the Phoenix, AZ area in late February.

  • There’s even better site for running your 365 project: https://tookapic.com – I’m already on day 90 of my second 365 project there.

  • Charlie Barker

    Thanks for your post, you saying you didn’t get 365 photos each year but you tried. And, in trying and working and learning, it made you a better photographer, has given me the push I need to start one.

  • Purely.Simply.Photography.

    In December 2011, I decided to do a 91 Days Of Summer (Southern Hemisphere/29 days in Feb) Photo Project. I did manage to complete the task. Encouraged by my Summer foray, i decided to extend it to 90 Days Of Autumn. Somewhere in the following 2 seasons (Winter/Spring), stress set in and took the enjoyment out of it. I dropped off. So in December 2015, I embarked on my second 91 Days Of Summer assignment. So hats off to those who are doing the 365 and particularly to those who are on their umpteenth project. Mario (Australia).

  • Beware

    I am just finishing my 365 day project and although it’s been stressful and quite difficult at times, I was surprised at the creativity of my photos when under a daily pressure deadline. I used the second website mentioned “365 Project website” and although it states it is free, if you want to be fully involved in the project community you have to pay 19 pounds for the software. Unfortunately, you can’t get rid of trolls either that follow you if you don’t have the software. I’ve had to put in two complaints about a follower who made some very rude inappropriate comments and I still can’t get rid of him. If I had my time over I would probably use one of the Flikr groups that have been set up.

  • Thats great Brianna! – Good luck on your 366!

  • Good to know Tomek! – thank you for sharing.

  • Congratulations on finishing your 365. Its awesome that you stuck to it and make it through 🙂

  • Sometimes its better to manage it in smaller chunks. Sounds like the 91 day series worked for you 🙂

  • Great going Pawel!

  • Thats going to be a fun one for sure! The change in scenery is so stark 🙂 – good luck on the move and the 366!

  • Sona, the key is to not make it too difficult to do. Perhaps you can find inspiration around you. Like the light hitting the coffee cup (or tea whatever you prefer) at various times of the day, shadows, the scenery around you within a few feet away?

  • Beware

    Thank you …. it was well worth doing 🙂

  • Matt – you hit the nail in the head. It is a commitment and thats where the challenge lies. But if there are other external factors that prevent you from continuing then maybe modify it to a 52 week. And like I mentioned in the article, don’t beat yourself up for missing a few days here and there.

  • Thats incredible Ernido! – great going!

  • Thats great my3sons! – glad to be of help 🙂 good luck with your 366.

  • Thats a good start Michael…do it at your own pace and what you can manage without loosing interest.

  • Thats a great plan David. I use a combination of tools as well and that gives me the freedom as well as the convenience to photography as and when I get inspiration. Good luck on your 366!

  • Matthew N. Potter

    I started my 365 project on my birthday in November. It’s a combination of shooting and writing. It is eye-opening and making me look at the world with aN entirely new view. https://mattnp2.wordpress.com/2016/01/07/cold-up-there/. If you go there, check out the “About” post. This is really a great challenge.

  • Lyn Wilson

    I’ve just started a 52 week challenge instead of a 365. Life would get in the way, variety is the spice of life! I downloaded the challenge from online, printed it out, laminated it, then placed on fridge door. Each week has a set category of either Portrait, Landscape or Artistic, that can be interpreted any way I want. I made an album on my Facebook to upload each weeks photo, so at end of year I can see if I have indeed improved my techniques (or not)

  • Barrie Hancock

    I just completed my first 365 project at end November (www.bh365project.com), and as Matt says below it IS a real commitment, on many levels. The one bit of advice I would offer is that on those days that everything seems to go wrong, just remember that every picture need not be a masterpiece. Just accept that there are days when you may be below par and move on – tomorrow is another opportunity. The whole purpose is to enjoy your project and produce something that you can look back on, and remember it proudly, and maybe fondly.
    cheers and good luck!

  • TR Young

    Thank you!

  • Annie Metcalfe

    I’ve just finished my first 365 project and am now going onto my second year (I enjoyed it that much 😀 ) Haven’t missed a day so far, I find I run on the discipline of knowing I have to take a photo every day, and can now find inspiration in pretty much anything. There have been days when I’ve taken “bad” photos, but they’re usually when I’ve tried out something new and it hasn’t quite worked out so I still see it as a step on the learning curve 🙂

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