Yay!!!!!! You’re doing it! Perhaps my blog post about why you should do a 365 actually convinced you to impulsively jump in, or perhaps you’ve been contemplating taking on a photo-a-day project for a while. Today I’m sharing 9 tips that really helped me be successful with my project, with the hope that you’ll find something useful here too.
1. Set realistic expectations
My husband and I always do this when we vacation with our 3 kids. We set the lowest of low expectations, so that we always feel like no matter what happens, we had a great trip! It’s kinda the same thing for this project. In my last blog, I talked about accepting the fact that no one makes magic every single day. So I was hoping that I would have 2 photos (out of 7) each week that I at least liked…or loved. And looking back, I was able to exceed my expectations so that was awesome! And on the days I made a crappy picture, well, I was expecting those days too, so I tried not to let them drag me down.
2. Share your photos with your “people”
This project is a HUGE commitment, so it was important for me to declare this commitment to my people, who I decided were my Facebook friends. I actually did not end up sharing a whole lot of my 365 on my business Facebook page or even this blog, because the vast majority of the photos are of my personal life. But with my friends on Facebook, I announced I was doing a 365, and shared photos whenever I felt moved to share one. For me, this created some personal accountability. It was also really fun to share my art and my daily life with my friends, and it created a nice sense of community. An unexpected outcome was that throughout the year, many friends mentioned to me that they were inspired by my photography and the project, and really loved seeing the progression and little snippets of our crazy life. Here I was just doing my thing without the goal of inspiring others, and inspiration spread as a by-product, which I think is super cool!
3. Don’t look for outside validation
Okay, so it’s awesome to share your photos with your “people”, but at the end of the day, this is called a personal project because it’s personal. It was always interesting to see what photos resonated with other people; it was sometimes the photos that were not the most meaningful to me. Stay true to yourself and your personal goals for this project.
4. Pull it together monthly!
This was one of my most favorite things to do throughout the year! My friend Tricia Ebarvia created these awesome templates that work in the Lightroom Print module, and my friends and I used them at the end of each month to create a calendar of images. I really love seeing them all together, and doing this each month really spurred me on to continue the project! This exercise also really helped me to identify my style and shooting tendencies. I mean, just look at mine compared to my friend and 365 partner in crime Kellie of Kellie Brindley Photography! (top row mine, bottom row Kellie’s) Each month we’d share our collages, and each month I’d marvel at how very different our photos look!
5. Stay on top of editing!
I think it goes without saying, but you can let this project get out of hand pretty quickly. For me, it was good practice to upload images to my computer and edit them at least every 3 days or so. What you don’t want is to be shooting every day and have weeks of images on your card that you then have to cull through and edit. If I was really excited about something I’d shot, I would upload and edit that day. But if I was really busy, I’d make sure to get my shooting in then edit a day or two later. Consider speeding up your workflow by creating your own import presets. I also created custom white balance presets for the artificial light in almost every room in my house.
6. Think about your end product and consider starting on it now
Will you create a photo book of just your 365 images? Will you integrate these images into part of a larger family photo book? Will you make a 365 giant wall collage? You can start designing your book now using the Book module in Lightroom, or just create a monthly folder each month of print resolution favorites on your desktop so that at the end of the year, you’ll already have all of your favorites ready to print in one place!
7. Expect the highs and lows
This is a marathon, not a sprint! Expect that you’ll have periods of great inspiration and expect that you’ll hit the wall and not feel moved to take one.more.picture. of the bedtime routine. It’s all a part of the wonderful journey that is a 365! When in a rut, try signing up for a workshop or learn a new skill like macro, freelensing, or off-camera flash. I took 2 workshops during my 365 year, and found the assignments to bring a welcomed focus and structure to my shooting, at least for a period. Or work through a book like David duChemin‘s The Visual Toolbox.
8. Get in the picture!
You’ve committed to taking 365 (or 366!) of these, so you might as well be in a few of them! If I was feeling motivated, I’d break out the tripod and set the interval timer. I always keep the tripod plate mounted to the bottom of my camera, for when inspiration strikes me. I also found that my kids LOVE running back and forth to press the shutter when I have the camera in self-timer mode. They get all giddy and silly, and love watching the flashing light on the front of the camera as they anticipate the shutter. It’s really quite cute and makes for some fun photos. Of course they all want multiple turns, so we get ample tries to get at least one keeper. I’m kinda lazy, so the easiest way for me to get in the frame is to hand the camera off to my husband. These were all totally shot by my husband!!!!
9. Have a heart to heart with your people
When you embark on a project of this magnitude, it’s usually going to have some effect on your “people” (subjects), unless you’re not shooting people. For me, one of my main goals of this project was to honestly document a year of our family’s life. So naturally this would affect my family as I had my camera out a lot more than usual, and they all knew I had committed to daily shooting. The kids have a pretty good attitude about it and I did my best to keep it fun for them. They just know and accept that this is who mom is, and this is what she does. Not surprisingly, my husband was the least enthusiastic about the project. Though after a heart to heart and coming to understand why this was an important thing for me to do, he graciously and minimally begrudgingly let me document our life as it unfolded in 2015. I’ll always be grateful for his support and the fact that he truly knows my love language.
Do you have any other great tips for rocking a 365? Share with us in the Comments below!
Carrie Yuan is a documentary family photographer in Seattle, Washington who completed her very first 365 project on December 31, 2015 but has quietly kept shooting every day since, specializing in documentary family photography sessions that honestly tell the story of your family’s here and now. Carrie’s passion is to document the full-of-love journey that is parenthood and childhood (with a sprinkling of humor), in all its chaos & beauty. Carrie lives in Seattle with her family: a husband who thinks Carrie’s 365 project is over (shhh), a six year old who currently aspires to be a swim instructor when she grows up, three year old boy/girl twins who looove swimming together, and a lab-ridgeback canine who is grossly neglected.
Carrie is currently booking family documentary photo sessions (that do NOT require the purchase of new outfits, or cleaning your house) for February 2016 and beyond, in-home documentary newborn sessions in the Greater Seattle area, and hospital newborn sessions in Seattle hospitals.