5 Tips for a More Successful 365 Project

One of the biggest trends on flickr is to start a 365 Project. This usually means taking one self-portrait a day for an entire year. This project is often misunderstood by those outside of flickr, especially since they’re used to the selfie-culture of MySpace and Facebook. It’s not a vanity project. A 365 Project is about taking the adage about becoming a better writer through writing every day to photography. It also has a special bonus of teaching the photographer what it’s like to be the subject. Many of us photo-geeks are behind the camera way more often than we’re in front of it. Sometimes we struggle with how to communicate to our subjects how to achieve the vision we have in our head. By being both the photographer and the subject, we learn to appreciate both points of view.

Unfortunately, the 365 Project is also the most often abandoned project on flickr. Lots of people start with a lot of energy and can’t make it past a month or two. So I wanted to put together a few tips to help get you through the process.

1. Don’t Worry if It’s Boring

Some people out there have some pretty incredible 365 images. So it can be discouraging when all you can think of is something like this:
Day Two: Protein Shake
Don’t worry about it. Because it’s when you get fixated on how good or bad the photo is that you miss the point. By making sure you participate every day, you don’t fall out of the project.  It’s very hard to be creative every single day. Don’t get hung up on it. Just shoot. Otherwise you can’t get to better photos like this one:
Day One Hundred Forty-One:  Rockin' OutAlso, sometimes the simplest ones can end up becoming your favorites when you go back and visit the images later.  This is one of my favorite simple images and it’s my current profile photo on Steam:
Day One Hundred Thirty-Nine:  There's a new Gameboy out?

2. Use it to learn Equipment or Techniques

One of the best uses I got out of my 365 Project was learning how to work with lighting. I had a lighting kit and built up some backgrounds and then made some images I really loved as I learned the different lighting techniques:
Day Two Hundred Thirty-Three:  Deep Stare
Day Two Hundred Eighty:  Inspiration from Deep Meditation


3. Reenact Famous Scenes

There might be some movies or books that you could try to replicate. I decided to do this with Bible scenes and ended up with one of my most complex images ever, a recreation of The Last Supper:
Day Two Hundred Sixty-Four:  The Last Supper

4. Tell a story or choose a theme

Depending on how good you are on telling stories, you might choose a series of week-long stories or do one story that spans the entire year. I ended my 365 with a story. Here’s the first image and you can follow along on flickr to see how it ends:
Day Three Hundred Fifty-Eight:  Part 1 - Are you Ready to Perform?

Or try out a theme.  One of the most popular is the Seven Deadly Sins.
Day Two Hundred:  Wrath

5. Join a group

One of the ways I was able to keep getting new ideas was to join a few 365 groups. Some of them are generic 365 groups and I could see what others were doing and sometimes that would spur some creativity in me. Other groups are challenge based like Macro Monday or Half-Nekked Thursday. They give you a theme to aim for every day.
Day Two Hundred Seventy-One:  I've Covered Wars, you know!

Hopefully these tips can help keep you motivated. I think completing my 365 was one of the biggest accomplishments I’ve had outside of work and school.  It was hard while I was doing it, but it was great to have finished. In fact, I was so proud of it, that I even had it made into a book. It’s a great documentation of a time in my life when a lot of changes were happening so it’s great for more than one reason and I’d recommend it to everyone who wants to improve their photography.

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