Photo-a-Day Project 2017

  • Project 365
  • Capture Your 365
  • Photo-a-day
  • Project 52
  • 12-on-the-12th

The project goes by many names and has as many proponents as there are names! The overall purpose of these projects is to get the photographer to take at least one photograph a day. Sometimes, the photographer may use prompts; others may just take a photograph of whatever inspires him or her at that moment.

It’s easy to start these projects. . . . I usually last about ten days. I admit it. I just stop taking photographs within two weeks of declaring my intentions to complete a 365 project “this” year. (I don’t know whether to declare this as an intention or not. If I do, I need someone to hold me accountable!)

What are the benefits of engaging in such a project, whether it’s a photo-a-day, or a photo-a-week, or 12-photos-on-the-12th? I think there are many.

The most obvious benefit is becoming familiar with the camera, whether it’s an iPhone or cell phone camera, a point-and-shoot, or a “fancy” DSLR or mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses. The more you use your camera, the more familiar it becomes. And the more familiar the camera becomes, the better you can control the way the image turns out. Daily use takes the strangeness away until it feels strange not to have a camera.

The second benefit is that you become better at seeing the world around you. As you make a conscious effort to see something to take a photograph of, the more you notice.

A third benefit is that you become less judgmental about what makes a good photographic subject. You put aside notions of what is beautiful or ugly or appropriate and inappropriate, important “enough” or not. You learn to see (see the second benefit) the world in greater detail and appreciate the little things as well as the bigger details.

And perhaps a greater benefit of taking on this kind of project is that you become a better photographer because you are practicing the craft daily. As a musician, I grow only when I sit at the piano, music open, fingers on the keys. I don’t get better looking at my beautiful instrument and merely studying the pattern of the notes on the page (although that helps in terms of preparation to practice!). I get better by doing.

I am certain that there are more benefits than these four, but this is enough to get you thinking.

In the end, what you will have is a record of your entire year. Whether you post your images in a Flickr album or on a blog or print them out in a Shutterfly or some other photo book or make your own scrapbook, you will have a record of what is important to you, and those images will tell the story of “this” year.

What better gift can you give to your children or grandchildren and to the generations to come?

There are many resources that will provide prompts, lists, or guidance. These are a few:

Pick up your camera this week and try a photo challenge, whether it’s to begin a daily photo project or a weekly project or a “day in the life” project. Make a record of your life.

2 Comments

  1. I’ve done this for the past two years using my iPhone and an app called Project 365 Pro that puts each day’s image into a calendar. It’s very easy and I love seeing each month’s calendar page fill up with photos. They’re not all significant or arty or even good, but each one is a reminder of a moment. I debated with myself whether to go on with it this year, but by now I’m well and truly hooked! I will also admit that I occasionally “cheat” and use a photo from the day before or the day after, if I haven’t remembered or captured something usable on a given day. I’d rather do that than beat myself up or give up for not being perfect.

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  2. I am taking my project “one day at a time.” I have tried for the last couple of years and get about a week into the project. I like your idea of “cheating” by using a photo that has been taken earlier when something happens. I may use older images with new edits sometimes. It’s amazing how changing the editing process changes the image–the mood, the story.

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