365 project is a great photography challenge that has already changed lives of thousands of people. I don't know anyone who did 365 project and ever regretted it.
Since I've been taking and publishing daily photos for more than 4 years straight I'm in a perfect position to help those who are just starting out. That's why I decided to create the Ultimate Guide for anyone starting their 365 project.
If you're going to start a 365 project - do it on Tookapic.
Before you start your 365 project
There are few topics I'd like to discuss before you even start your 365 project. It might help you make the decision if it's really for you. If you already started, you can skip to the next section.
What exactly is 365 project?
Simplest definition is: A photo album with 365 photos in it. Each of the photos was taken on a different day of the year. Take photos every day for 365 days in a row and you'll create your own 365 project.
This kind of album is a great memoir. It shows you what and who is really important to you. It paints a bigger picture of who you really are. It teaches you how to take better photos. How to be consistent.
Basically it's one of the best thing you can do for yourself.
I've asked hundreds of people who completed their 365 project. Every single one of them said they'd do it again. And as for my personal experience - nothing tought me more about photography, myself and my life.
It's also the best and the cheapest photography course you can take. And no expensive gear will have as big impact on your photography as 365 project will.
Is 365 project for me?
It's not for everyone - that's for sure. It's an ambitious challenge that will change the way you look at the world around you. But it's still a challenge and not a trivial one.
👍 Do it if:
- you want to significantly improve your photography
- you want to document your everyday life
- you want to travel more
- you want to meet new, amazing people
- you have kids - it's a great way to see them growing up
- you want to develop a good habit
- you want to learn to edit your photos
- you like challenges
- you want to improve as a person
👎 Don't do it if:
- you're seeking instant gratification. That's not what 365 project is about. Sure, getting to the 365th pic will feel amazing, but it's the process you should really care about and enjoy
- you get bored quickly
- you give up easily - unless of course you want to change that with the 365 project
- you expect to deliver exceptional photos everyday for a year - that's simply impossible and this approach will backfire very quickly
- if you don't plan to actually take photos every day
It's really easy. And very hard.
All you have to do is take photos every day, choose one and save it or publish it somewhere. It's not rocket science, right?
On the other hand this is a year-long commitment. It will be worth it, I can guarantee it. But it's tempting and very easy to give up. And there will be days when you will really want to just stop.
Remember you're not the only one who wants to give up. Everyone has those moments. I'm at my 5th 365 project and I still have days I really don't want to do it.
It will suck at some point. But remember, you're not alone. Great achievements require a bit of struggle sometimes.
Start right away
365 project doesn't have to start on January 1st. It doesn't have to start on Monday. Any day of the year is perfect. And the best day is today.
The moment you postpone the start of your 365 project - there's a big chance you probably killed the whole thing right there without even taking a single photo.
Take your first photo. Now.
Your first photo
Don't think about it too much. It doesn't have to be special. It doesn't have to be technically perfect. It just has to happen.
Not very good photo that was actually taken is much better than the perfect one you never took.
Take a selfie. Shoot a photo of the view outside your window. Take a portrait of your spouse or your pet.
Selfie is actually really good idea and a perfect way to introduce yourself to the community. Write a few words about yourself when publishing your first pic.
Noone expects you to be perfect on day one
365 projects are mostly for amateurs. The less you know about photography, the more you'll learn along the way.
Henri Cartier-Bresson once said: "Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst". And there's nothing wrong with that. You'll see a significant progress in just first few weeks of your 365 project, but don't spend too much time on your first image.
Just do it.
Your cheap camera / phone is perfectly fine
You don't need an expensive camera to take photos. Most of photographers on Tookapic use amateur mirrorless cameras. But they know how to use them.
Two of the most popular cameras on Tookapic are smartphones. You know why? Because the best camera is the one you have with you.
365 Project Tips
In this section I will give you some guidelines on how to keep your 365 project engaging, fun and even addicting. Those tips are based on my nearly 5 years of experience in daily photo taking.
Set up a reminder
That's really important, especially when you're just starting out. Many people simply forget to take a photo every day.
Take your phone and set up two reminders. One in the morning and one in the evening. The evening one should be the last resort. Why? I'll tell you later.
Pick a theme
It's just easier when you know what photo you'll be taking today. It can be a weekly theme, a monthly theme or even a theme for your whole project. We have a whole article about it.
You can pick pretty much anything for your theme. Selfies, dogs, street portraits, blue objects. We had quite a few users doing that on Tookapic. One person did a whole year of photographing round objects and nothing else.
To make it even easier for you, every Monday we announce new weekly theme on Tookapic. We already had more than a hundred, so whenever you're out of ideas for a photo just browse our weekly themes archives.
Make a list of photo ideas
It's a good idea to have a list of backup ideas for photos. In case you're not feeling creative just pick an idea from the list and take a photo.
I use Pinterest for collecting ideas for my photos, but anything will do the job as well. Write them down on your phone or on a piece of paper.
Take photos early in a day
This saved my 365 project so many times I can't recommend it enough. Once you take a pic early in the morning you're good. You can forget about the daily photo. It's been taken care of. And if you happen to take a better photo later in a day - well - that's awesome, you have more to pick from.
Create a photography space at your house
It's not always possible to take a photo in the morning or even during the day. Work, school, kids, wife, husband - it's all more important than some daily photo. And that's ok.
I recently had a very busy week and was only able to take my daily pic late in the evening when my wife and son were already sleeping. For this kind of scenario it's good to have a place at your house where you can take your last-minute photo. A small "studio" that will save your 365 project just before midnight.
Dominique wrote a whole article about having your own photography space. You should read it.
Look around. A lot.
You'll get to that yourself, but let me just tell you that 365 project changed the way I look at things. I see frames everywhere. I have a rule of thirds built into my eyes now. Photo opportunities are everywhere.
Visit places you haven't visited before. Find your hometown on Tookapic and explore the places photographed by other members of the community.
There's so much to see in the world!
Develop your own process
Try various approaches and see what works best for you. Is publishing a photo the same day it was taken your way of doing 365 project? Or maybe you feel better taking photos for a week and then publishing all seven on Sunday? It's your call.
However, while watching hundreds of users on Tookapic, I noticed the most effective way of doing the 365 is publishing the photo the same day it was taken or no later than the next day.
This kind of approach is the most exciting for your followers and helps you grow your audience faster, since people will actually wait for your next photo every day.
Photographers who employ this strategy have much bigger chance of completing their 365 project without missing a day. It's difficult to forget something once it becomes your daily habit, right?
But remember, there's nothing wrong with publishing once a week or once a month as long as every photo you publish was taken on a different day. And that brings us to...
Don't cheat (yourself) 🤞
Let's say you've taken a photo 3 weeks ago but then publish it as if it was taken today. That's cheating. Or if you take 30 photos today and then publish them one by one over the next month. That's also cheating. On Tookapic we call it time bending.
It's cheating and has nothing to do with the idea of 365 project. And it's the worst kind of cheating - cheating yourself. Because even if you get to 365 photos, will you still get the feeling of accomplishment knowing that you cheated?
You will take crappy photos and that's ok
Accept the fact that you will not be able to deliver amazing images every day for a year. It's impossible. Every photographer (even a famous one) will tell you that.
In fact, Ansel Adams once said "Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop" and after 4 years of taking photos every day I think this is still very true.
However it's much easier to get those twelve significant photos when you're shooting every single day. That's why you should...
I had weeks filled with crappy photos. It was frustrating. But every now and then I managed to take an outstanding photograph. That wouldn't have happened if I stopped.
On Tookapic we even have a name for crappy photos taken so you wouldn't break the streak. We call such image a "Streak Pic".
On the other hand I had weeks filled with beautiful, creative images. The important thing is to remember that both of the streaks eventually stop. And that's ok.
Remember that 365 project is not the most important thing in your life. You probably have a family, kids, friends, work. If 365 project gets in a way, stop.
365 should be a hobby, a fun side project, not a life goal. Speaking from my personal experience, I got dangerously close to crossing that line. If you find yourself in a similar situation, back off a little.
Don't forget to celebrate! 🎉
Get yourself a little treat after the first week. Throw a little party after completing a month. And go absolutely wild after 365th pic. You deserve it.
Only 10% of people who accept the challenge actually completes the 365 project. Being in those 10% is worth celebrating.
That's it. If you reached the end, you know as much about running a 365 project as I do. No more excuses not to start now. Upload a photo.
And if you completed your 365, leave a comment below. Maybe you have your own tips? Looking forward to reading your comments!
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