In 2009, when I began my first 365 photo a day project and entered the wonderful world of photography, I never realized the soulful work that would also come out of my experience. I picked up my point and shoot camera on Day 1 (March 1st 2009) with a mission to document life and take better photos. Little did I know the transformation that would happen inside. My camera was there by my side to help me process the joy of our first pregnancy, the devastation when we lost it 20 weeks later, the anxiety that settled in during pregnancy #2, the relief during the birth our healthy baby girl, and the whirlwind of life changes that followed.
My camera has in a way become my best friend. A source of comfort, of healing, and love. My camera provides the way for me to remain grateful and grounded, to discover and create, and to remember all the pieces of my life.
If I’m being honest, I actually never finished that 365 project that set me on this journey 3 years ago. I’ve actually tried re-starting 3 more times and still stopped each time before the 365 days were up. But sometimes it really isn’t finishing that counts, it’s about enjoying the journey and learning about yourself in the process.
I’m now on my 4th attempt at a 365, I think I might just make it to the end this time! I’ve taken all I’ve learned over the past 3 years, and I’ve finally cultivated a project that fits perfectly into this place in my life.
Photography is wonderfully flexible – these days we have cameras that fit in our pocket, cameras on our phones, and huge cameras capture stunning images. Our cameras grant us the opportunity to take photos anywhere, to reconnect with nature or family, and direct our energies inward.
One of the best ways I’ve found to allow for this creative camera play in your life is by committing to a photography project and seeing where it takes you.
When was the last time you took photos that were purely and solely for you? The kind that light you up and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Photos of your children engaged in playfulness and laughter. Or photos of a magically painted sky at sunset? Or even photos of delectable dessert you whipped up from scratch last night?
Today I want to help you capture those things by offering you my top 5 tips for embarking on a personal photo project (and actually sticking with it!).
1) Set manageable and measurable goals
A 365 day commitment can be super overwhelming. Don’t feel pressured set such a lofty goal for yourself. For my going into my 4th 365 attempt the goal was: 1) Capture daily life more consistently. I knew the way I would achieve this goal with a daily photo through the camera I always have with me, my iPhone. But your goals may look much different from mine. Ask yourself first what it is you’d like to shoot more of and work on the rest of the project execution from there.
2) Stretch Yourself
Choose a technique, a subject, or a skill you’d like to learn more about. Maybe you’ve finally decided you want to master flash photography, or try your hand at food photography, or explore a new editing program or technique. Use this personal project as an opportunity to explore! While learning the ins and outs of my iPhone this year I discovered THIS incredible tip that I swear must be Apple’s best kept iPhone secret.
3) Choose a theme
When I leave my projects open-ended I get too overwhelmed with options. That’s why I’m convinced I never finished a photo-a-day project in the past — I never had a theme or a focus to keep coming back to. Pick something you’re totally and utterly in love with and passionate about photographing. A photo a day of my daughter allows me to wake up knowing exactly who and what I need to capture before the day is done and watching the collection of photos of her I have grow leaves me with a huge smile on my face.
4) Make a schedule and stick to it
A photo a day project came with a built in schedule. But if that kind of commitment isn’t for you why not try a weekly photo project? Or monthly? Once you set a goal, picked your mode of implementation, and chosen a focus to keep you on track then you must decide how long and how often you want to actually do this project. Set a specific start date, end date, and frequency and even go so far as to place them on your calendar. My iPhone will alert me with a reminder every day at 7pm if I’ve forgotten to snag my daughter’s photo for the day. And I will admit, there are the days I’ve forgotten. Schedules are just a guideline and if you forget be gentle with yourself, find a way to pick back up, remind yourself of your original goal, and keep on going.
Sharing what you’re up to on a blog is an easy way to hold yourself accountable. Don’t have a blog? You can easily set one up for free with WordPress, Blogger, or Tumblr. But don’t forget you should also share through printed products too! I’ll be creating an album of all 366 (it’s a leap year!) photos once the year is complete and I’m sure I also print a few of my favorites on canvas to hang in my office too. Figure out the way you want to best display your work in print and be sure to use that to reward yourself once the project is complete!
In the comments below I’d love if it you’d share with me your own personal photography goals. Are you currently working through a personal project (maybe a 366 like me)? Is there a project you’ve been inspired to begin today? What challenges or struggles have you faced in keeping up with your own personal photos? I want to hear all about it and brainstorm with you here today!
Guest blogger, Beryl Ayn Young, serves as chief photography muse over on her personal blog and serves as a teacher of the photography lessons to nourish the mind, body, and soul. She believes in lifelong learning, photographic healing, and a glass half full perspective. Beryl offers e-courses and and photo coaching aimed at teaching you how to improve your camera skills and cherish life’s journey. Get inspired to begin your own personal project today with one of her many freebie lessons or classes right HERE