The Barefoot Photographer and the 365 Project

Take a photo.  Take just one photo.  Sounds simple doesn’t it.  It can be.  But then do that every day for a week, a month, and even a year.  That does not sound as simple.  Last November I was invited to join a group taking a photo a day from December 1 through to Christmas day.  The challenge was called the 25 Days of Christmas.  It was a breeze.  There is always something Christmassy around during that time that makes a good photo – sometimes even a great photo.

After completing that challenge, I was cocky.  I have heard of photographers taking on a 365 Project (a photo a day for a year).  I had never done this.  When I teach photography it is one of the suggestions I give a student looking to improve their photography or just learn how to use their camera better.  The 25 Days challenge was so fun, I had talked with my photo group about doing a photo a day for the month of February.  (I figured the shortest month would appeal to members better – and February is kind of boring.)  Then one morning late in December, and I had not taken a photo for a few days, I see a tweet come across my Twitter account.  Shutter Sisters is getting up a group on Flickr for a 365 project.

Before I could think it through – I hopped on Flickr and declared, “I’m in!”  As soon as I posted it – I started thinking how and then why…then I brainstormed.  Themes would help me think on those days I had no inspiration.  Monthly themes; no, I chose a theme for each day of the week.  Then I hurried over to Blogger to set up a separate blog from my regular blog to keep track  of the photos. In the middle of this whirlwind of uncharacteristic organizational activity, I received an invite from the 25 Days of Christmas crowd.  It was another challenge – 100 Pictures.  They gave me a list of 100 things/themes and during 2010 you had to cover the list.  I signed up for that one in a heartbeat.  If I am taking a photo a day already, 100 Pictures is a snap (no pun intended).

So some may ask why do this?  I mentioned that I tell photography students to consider this type of activity to improve their photography.  I also tell them to think of their camera as you would a musical instrument.  You cannot expect to play an instrument without constant, daily practice.  The same thing goes for photography – practice, practice, practice.  Also this is an exercise in editing.  You learn to choose from your daily work to select the one best photo of the day.  Also editing as in Photoshop.  This is a good time to learn a little about tweaking your photos on the computer.  The computer is the new darkroom.  Try your hand at developing your photos to their full potential and even get creative with a little digital art.

It is never too late to start this.  Some people choose their birthday or other special day rather than January 1 as a jumping off point.  If you think the whole year sounds a bit much – think about starting small, and slow with a week or a month.

Here are some helpful hints for those interested:

  1. Don’t try to make every photo a masterpiece.
  2. Themes help – daily, weekly, or monthly can keep you focused.
  3. Tell people what you are doing – you are least likely to quit if others know and maybe even are participating with you.
  4. Carry a camera with you everywhere.  You never know when that great photo opportunity will appear.
  5. Experiment with different settings or subjects.
  6. Double check the date/time settings on your camera.
  7. Organize your photography – online on a site like Flickr, start a blog, create a special folder on your computer for your project photos.
  8. Back up your work regularly – for anything – this is important.
  9. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy camera.  This exercise may help you see what you like to do and help you decide about a future purchase of gear.
  10. Have fun – this is not a job – it is a fun exercise for YOU!

Follow me as I take a photo a day for the next year.  Today begins my second week of this project.   I promise it will be interesting and inspiring.  Here is my favorite photo from week 1 — I will post the photo from Day 8 later today.

A Bowl Full of Stars

A Bowl Full of Stars

I am happy to be here at Fayette Woman and sharing my 365 Project with you.


Donna Rosser is a fine art photographer, writer, and teacher. She leads various photography workshops and shows her work in nationally recognized exhibits and galleries. Donna writes a popular blog that attracts readers from all over the world.

January 8, 2010