With my 365 photo-a-day project complete, I wanted to share some thoughts about it. Was it worth it? What did I learn? Would I do it again? I’m sure there are a number of you who have considered doing your own, so perhaps answering these questions will be useful insight to you.
One reason why I wanted to do this project in the first place was for practice. In the very first post I said, “Athletes practice daily. Musicians practice daily. If you want to be great at something and stay great at it, you need to regularly challenge yourself. This is just as true with your camera as it is with everything else.” A 365 project is one way to photographically exercise. It keeps you in camera shape and hopefully builds camera muscle. With each exposure there is an opportunity to learn. I do believe that I did improve my photography skills over the last year, at least a little.
If you do something everyday for long enough it will become habit. Picking up my camera and having it with me is now habit. Thinking photographically while I have my camera nearby is a habit. Capturing daily pictures is a habit. More importantly than all of that, taking note of the exposures I made and whether or not they’re good enough, and, if not, trying again a little harder to capture something better is now a habit. Those are good habits that I can thank this project for.
Something else that I gained from doing this photo-a-day project is I captured some pictures that I would not have otherwise captured. I forced myself to make some exposures “because I had to” and some of those pictures I quite like. I wouldn’t have made them if I wasn’t forcing myself to do so. This project increased my productivity.
My advice for someone who wants to do a project like this is, first of all, to do it. Actually decide to start and follow through. I took things one week at a time (which is why I called it “Weekly Photo Project”), so if I happened to fail at one week I wouldn’t feel like I failed the whole project. It’s easier to say, “I have just three days left” than “I have 147 days to go!” Taking things in small chunks was mentally very helpful. My advice would be to schedule breaks, perhaps once a quarter or maybe at the mid-point, to allow yourself the opportunity to guilt-free miss a day or week. I found that the winter, with its cold and short days, was the hardest. The second half of the project was much easier than the first because habits were setting in.
I’m not continuing this project because I have other things that I want to devote my time and energy towards. I will still be photographically exercising because I want to continue to build my camera skills, but it will be different exercises, such as the Film Simulation Challenge. It was great to do, and I’m very happy that I completed this project, as it was very beneficial to me, but I’m glad that it’s now over.
I’ve selected one picture to represent each week for the second half of this project. I did this already for Weeks 1-26. Some weeks I had several good pictures to choose from, and some weeks I had seven mediocre ones. That’s just the way it goes. I hope you’ve enjoyed following this project, and I hope that it has been an inspiration to you.