I received my very first DSLR camera a little over a year ago. Within a few weeks, and after a lot of researching online, I started shooting in manual mode. Through my research, I learned that a great way to grow as a photographer is to complete a 365 Photography Project. So what is a 365 Photography Project, or what I like to call a Project 365? It is a challenge to take a photo every day for 365 days. Starting a Project 365 is a huge commitment, but definitely worth it if you desire to grow as a photographer.
Doing a Project 365 was one of the best decisions I could have made as a “newbie” photographer. Not only did I learn so much about shooting in manual mode, but I was able to capture and document my life with my family over the course of a year. I have so many photos of my kids and my family that I will forever treasure because I was intentional about taking a photo every day.
Now that I have completed the project I thought I would share some tips that I hope will help you complete your own Project 365.
10 Tips To Help you Finish a Project 365
1. Take your camera everywhere
I can’t count the number of times I was out somewhere without my camera and ended up kicking myself for not bringing it. You never know when a great shot will be available!
The 2 photos below were taken in the parking lot of a Target believe it or not. I will repeat, take your camera EVERYWHERE 🙂
2. Invest in a camera bag
Since you will be taking your camera everywhere, you need a safe place to store it while you are out and about. At first, I didn’t have a camera bag so I would just put a towel down at the bottom of my purse for padding (Don’t laugh); I was nervous all the time that I was somehow going to damage my camera. I finally broke down and bought an actual camera bag that not only held my camera but everything else I normally hold in my purse.
There are a lot of awesome camera bags out there that will fit your individual needs. I chose a Kelly Moore Bag because they are not only super cute but large enough to hold everything else I need when out with my four kids.
3. Take photos of any and everything
When I got my camera I knew I would mainly be taking photos of my kids. There would be some days however when my kids would be sick or just not in the mood to have my camera in their faces, so I would instead just take photos of everyday objects. I am glad I did because some of my favorite photos are of random things that caught my eye.
4. Search for light and let it inspire you
I learned early on that I loved shooting in natural light. Being a home-school mom, I spend a lot of time at home during the day. Over time I was able to know which rooms in my house had a good natural light source and at what time of the day I could find it. For example, I now know that a great time to take photos in my dining room using natural light is anywhere between 3-5:00 p.m. If I want more of a dramatic lighting effect, I can find beams of light peering through my bedroom window between 7-8:00 p.m. I could give lots of examples, but I will spare you. 🙂 Basically, I have learned to look for light and find the beauty in it. Below is a photo that I love that shows dramatic lighting.
One night before the kids went to bed I saw this beautiful light peeking through my window and onto my bed. I asked my daughter if she wanted to grab a book and read it in that spot, and luckily she was happy to do so!
5. Get out and explore
Being home a lot during the day and learning how the natural light is around my house is great, but after a while, it can get a little old and redundant. I found that getting out of the house, exploring nature, visiting parks and gardens etc. inspired me to take lots of photos. It also added more variety to the subject matter seen in my Project 365.
6. If you miss a day, it’s OK!
Taking a photo for 365 consecutive days is no easy task. There would be days when I was unable to take a photo because “life” happened. Either my kids were sick, I was sick, or I simply wasn’t motivated. I learned not to beat myself up for the few days I didn’t take a photo. I could have quit the project altogether the first time I missed a day, but then I would have missed out on all the photos that I DID take on the days after. There really are no rules for a Project 365. The project is YOUR project. Don’t beat yourself up.
7. Start a blog to post your photos
I truly believe that the main reason I was able to complete my first Project 365 was because I started a blog. Posting my photos every week and seeing them organized online allowed me to see my progression as a photographer and it held me accountable to take the photos. Posting my photos publicly was a little scary at first, but I am so happy I took that leap and started “My Beautiful Everyday”.
Courtney Slazinik has a great post titled How to Start a Photography Blog on her site Click it Up a Notch that I found extremely helpful when I started my blog. I am not a techy person whatsoever, so if I can start a blog, there is hope for anyone 🙂
8. Follow other 365’ers and give encouragement
A great source of inspiration on my 365 journey came from other Project 365 bloggers that I began to follow. I was able to connect with others by giving feedback and encouragement each week and it was very encouraging to get feedback from them as well!
Another great resource available on the website Click it Up a Notch is the Project 365 Link Up. There you will find hundreds of other photographers taking on the Project 365 challenge and links for you to connect with them and see their photos.
9. Join a group challenge with monthly prompts
A huge source of motivation and inspiration can come from joining a group challenge with monthly prompts.You can find great monthly challenges that offer daily prompts on Pinterest and Instagram. One group on Instagram that I would recommend is #thebethadillychallenge.
10. Seek out constructive criticism
Putting your photos on social media is a great way to receive feedback about your photography. I found that an even better way to grow as a photographer is to get feedback from other photographers. Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism–seek it out. Clickin Moms is an amazing group you can join that will give you just that, as well as tons of awesome photography tutorials.
It has been so rewarding to look back over my photos from this past year. I have grown in my understanding of how to shoot in manual, in what subject matter I like to photograph, and how to edit my photos. Doing a 365 Photography Project pushed be to take so many photos I know I wouldn’t have taken and has given me so much more confidence to pick up my camera. Though I have learned so much, I know I have only scratched the service of all there is to know about this art form. I am excited to continue growing as a photographer and to use my lens as a way to see the beautiful in my everyday.