Those who follow me on Facebook or happen to regularly check my Flickr account might have noticed that I started a new Project 365 on my birthday. For those who aren’t aware, Project 365 is an attempt to take a photograph for each and ever day of a year. I did one when I turned 39 and then took last year off. Interestingly enough, even though it was a nice break not having to worry about taking a picture every single day, I quickly missed the awareness of my life and surroundings that I’d built up while doing the project. Basically, when you know you are going to have to take a picture, and when you have the least bit of artistic sensibility and don’t want to be boring, you invest a much greater awareness in your everyday circumstances. When walking to the store, you are always on the lookout for a good shot. Sometimes when it’s late and you haven’t take a picture, you look much more closely at your apartment, looking for something interesting, something that will catch your attention. In the end I found that each day was a bit more heightened than when I’m not trying to find something to photograph. Sure, sometimes its a bit of a drag, but considering I carry my iPhone with me pretty much wherever I am, it’s almost always possible to capture something of slight interest.
The other thing that occurs while doing this kind of project, is that you get better at taking pictures. You become more attuned to composition and shades of light and color and the ways in which they combine to create a compelling image, as well as sometimes the way in which each of those elements can also serve as the primary focus of some pictures.
Because I have done this before, I am not getting the same level of awareness and excitement as I did the first time. Probably because the first time also contains more suspense about actually being able to complete the task. Knowing that I made it through the first time with only a few forgotten days means that I am pretty darn confident that I can do this. While I’m not going to necessarily restrict myself on this go around, I’m fairly certain that if I do this another time in the next couple of years, I might choose to create some proscriptions on what I can use as subject matter. Off the top of my head, I could maybe do a year of photographing people, or specifically focusing on buildings, maybe even doing a year of black and white only. But I’m getting ahead of myself. For this year, I’ll be taking pictures of whatever strikes my fancy. You can see the beginnings of my results here and a few of my favorite shots from my last go ’round here.
I heartily urge you to try this challenge, but I don’t think it works if you can’t share the photos daily. Part of what works, at least for me, about the project, is the fact that the task isn’t done just when I take a snapshot. I only tick off my “project 365” todo box after I’ve chosen what picture I’m going to use, made whatever slight adjustments to it, uploaded it to Flickr and submitted it to the Project 365 group that I’m a part of. There are other places and ways you can hold yourself accountable. Tumblr might work well for some, or you can even submit to 365Project.org. Regardless of what mechanism, I strongly believe that having some way to publicly post into a community is both part of the fun but also part of what can motive you to stay on track.
If you do start, please let me know so I can follow along with your year-long journey. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy mine.