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All photographers have room to grow, and we all of commit to honoring that growth in different ways. One way to dedicate yourself to your photography is to commit to doing it daily. It does not matter whether your camera is a phone, a compact camera, or a top-of-the-line DSLR. Daily photography simply means picking up your camera and using it every day.
You could commit to a specific plan or subject, or keep it more open. You might share your daily photographs on a blog or with a 365 project group, or keep them private. The focus is on pushing yourself to use your camera each day and to see where that journey leads you.
Improvement requires effort, and effort requires time and dedication. Daily photography is one avenue for committing the time and dedication necessary to improve your photography. It keeps photography in the forefront of your mind and pushes you to innovate and try new things. Personally, I can only spend so many days staring around my apartment for inspiration before I kick myself into gear and head out to find something new. Committing to daily photography got me off my couch and out into the world, far more often than I would have done otherwise.
Daily photography forces you to expand your repertoire. Perhaps you got hooked on photography while traveling, because you had a child, or you wanted an avenue to express yourself creatively. Daily photography will push you beyond that initial interest and help you explore new avenues and subjects.
You likely cannot travel somewhere new every day, so you may find a new appreciation for the mundane. You may have taken your umpteenth portrait of your kids, so you start seeking out the tiny details of their life, or the unposed moments. You may find the challenge of expressing yourself daily leads you to try new techniques, or a new way of processing your images. Regardless, the day-in and day-out demands of daily photography will push you to expand.
Daily photography can also help you connect to the seasons and the changing rhythms of your days, weeks, and months. You may start to notice how the first signs of autumn are creeping in, and the greens of summer are fading. You may realize how much faster the light is fading, or how much later you can appreciate the sunrise. Daily photography can help center you in this moment of time.
When shared in a community, daily photography is even better. Seek out a group of like-minded (or even unlike-minded for a real push) photographers willing to give and receive feedback. Ask for a challenge, or share a risk you took in your photography. Getting real feedback (not just accolades from your Facebook feed) can lead to real growth. Sharing in a community can also offer a level of encouragement and support to keep you motivated. Read more about daily photography communities in Jumpstart Your Photography: Start a 365 Project.
Make no mistake, daily photography is a huge commitment. You may find yourself up late, haphazardly shooting a frame or two of your shoes, or your snack before falling into bed, simply to have photographed something. You may feel like your creativity is stifled by the daily demand of coming up with something new.
Doing daily photography can also takes its toll on your friendships and relationships. You want to be careful that every trip, every outing, every moment does not become an excuse for a photo tour, or you may find the enthusiasm of your biggest supporters lagging. You do not want your children, spouse, friends, or even pets, to come to dread your camera. Always take into consideration the feelings of others when decided what, and when to photograph.
You may find that you feel constantly behind, between the combined demands of taking photographs daily, organizing and processing those photographs, and sharing or commenting on the images of others. You may find that the “have to” feeling overpowers the love and joy of photography for you, turning a passion into more of a chore. Burning out is no way to build up your enthusiasm.
Personally, I started a 365 project in January of 2011, which I continued for just shy of 1200 days (you can view it here at Archaeofrog). After more than three years of daily photography, I was ready for a break. But, on the other hand, I find myself missing much of the push and creative drive I received from my project.
There are many ways to commit yourself to photography. If a 365 project sounds too intimidating consider a 52 weeks project, with a focus on taking at least one photograph each week instead of every day. Or start a shot list of styles or specific photographs that you want to capture. Make it your mission to work your way through the list when you have the time and inclination.
You could plan a photography weekend or day trip. Set aside some time to visit an interesting location, invite a friend out for a photo shoot, or pencil in that upcoming full moon or meteor shower on your calendar. Find a way to make photography work for you by making time for it.
What works best for you? Are you a daily photographer, or have you ever participated in a 365 project? Share your thoughts about the benefits or downsides in the comments below.