With everyone who owns a cellphone now able to enter the arena of photography, the hobby has gained more and more people who are interested in it to varying degrees.
From the selfie-pros to the semi-pros, photography and photography-based communities have become increasingly more common in the last decade. Instagram and Flickr are two well-known platforms that attract quite a range of photographers, but then there are the websites that are used by professionals and serious photographers for portfolios, like 500px.
With such a range of people interested in photography, there have been an influx of participants in 365 projects. The goal of these projects is to take a photo every day for each of the 365 days of a year (although for those of us who are working on a project in 2016 it’s a 366 project thanks to the Leap Year!). This sometimes sounds fairly easy, since so many people will take a photo daily anyway as they see a cute dog, or a beautiful sunset, or the face of Jesus in their cereal. It usually is not nearly as easy as it sounds.
Either way, the next question after the decision to participate in one of these projects can affect whether you succeed or fail in your goal, as well as how beneficial it is to you in the end: how will you track your project?
You could certainly just do it on your own by making a folder on your computer to store the photo you chose to use each day or something similar to that. With film cameras, you could simply stick the photo up on your wall and really see the progress that you are making. With this method, though, you would be missing out on having a supportive community of people who share the same goal as you to encourage you when you get just the right angle and lighting for a photo, as well as to remind you about the time you got that photo when the one you have for a day is underwhelming at best.
So if you decide you want a community of photographers, we already know that there are plenty of them available. But how do you decide which one? I went through this process myself, and I struggled my way through the project for almost a full year before I found tookapic.
Why it sounds good
This is such a popular platform that you know the community of users is huge. It’s likely that you’re already comfortable and familiar with how it works, and now that they have removed the requirement for photos to be square-format only, your photo-a-day project could take whatever shape you wanted (ha!). The editing and filters are built in, so you can make whatever changes you want right when you’re posting it!
Where it starts to go wrong
In order to connect with others who are doing a 365 project, you would need to tag each photo with the same particular tag to ensure that the targeted group saw it each day. Unfortunately, there is not one tag that everyone uses, which means there are various groups of #365project, #project365, #dailyphoto, and countless others. If you want to share your photo with everyone, you’re going to need to remember a long list of tags just to get your photo into the groups every day!
This community is also so large that your photo will often be swallowed up into the massive news feed within a minute of posting it. What good is a large community if only a tiny fraction of them are going to see it anyway? For those who do see it, you might see that they liked your photo and moved on. That feels good for a moment, but it doesn’t really help you in the long run. Why did they like your photo? What about it worked? What could you improve for next time? Ultimately, Instagram ends up lacking the involved and supportive community that you were looking for.
Why it sounds good
Flickr is another huge platform for photography, though this one is a little more involved than Instagram. With the ability to put photos into groups and albums, organizing everything would be fairly easy. It looks pretty nice, too, with pages built for displaying large, crisp photos and clean gallery displays.
Where it starts to go wrong
Unfortunately, there’s a bit of the same issue with Flickr as with Instagram: too many different communities exist! You can find many that focus on 365 projects, but have slightly different names. Some are invite only. Some have specific requirements for the project or the people, such as what kind of camera you use to take it.
Even if you join several good ones, that still pushes up the count for what you need to remember each day when you list your various tags and groups and galleries and albums for each photo. With all of these groups and people, the chance of receiving much feedback is called into doubt once again. Anyone outside of these groups likely will never see your photo, either.
Why it sounds good
This website moves away from social media where people share a common focus only of “sharing photos” and hones in on the idea of “sharing your 365 project.” It was developed by a single guy who thought that a website would make running his 365 project a lot easier.
You can upload photos through a specialized email address so that you can put in your information at a later time when needed. In general, the people using this site for their project will check out some of your photos and leave a comment or two if you do the same for them, meaning that you can get out as much as you’re willing to put in. The community discussion board is absolutely jam-packed with links to interesting articles and cool tutorials, themes and competitions, and a section dedicated to those who are looking for a critique or their specific photo(s).
Where it starts to go wrong
While this site is probably a better option than a general social media site, it still has a few aspects that can detract from the experience. The main feed of photos from people whose projects you follow requires a lot of scrolling. This can get tedious if you follow thirty people and need to scroll on and on in order to see each of their photos every day. The discussion board is active, but the blog seems to have been mostly forgotten and generally only features the top 20 photos of the week (or the most liked photos) and the theme winner of the week (the most liked photo submitted to the contest).
This site was where I first started my own 365 project, but it didn’t go very smoothly. I would often end up uploading a week’s worth of photos at once, which defeated the idea of sharing one photo every day.
I also ended up feeling rather discouraged because it felt to me that the professional photos received the most attention while the total newbies like myself were not as engaged. Now of course, these people are very talented and shared beautiful photos with the community, but it seemed that this resulted in everyone following the same ten people when there were so many more people on the site.
In the same vein, many photos were beautiful, but didn’t seem to be a challenge for the photographer or an attempt at a new technique or creative interpretation. I saw so many photos of birds in flight and lakes at sunrise that they began to feel redundant and uninteresting. As someone who had no idea what she was doing, it was discouraging to have so little support in a community that was so large and active. Much of the support was going to those who already had experience and skill with photography, while those of us who were trying to develop just that were left to fend for ourselves.
My dedication to the project was spotty at times. Some days I would share a photo that I had taken in the past with the idea of sharing a photo every day rather than taking a photo every day, which totally defeated the purpose of the project. I was getting close to having done the project for a year, but it all seemed a bit lackluster to me, and my initial excitement over the idea had faded. My goal of developing a daily habit of something had failed.
Then one day, my life literally changed because I stumbled across a new website called Took-A-Pic. This website wasn’t even out of its alpha phase yet (meaning it was still being developed), and had been up for only a few months.
I fell in love with the beautiful way the projects were presented and signed up immediately. Choosing only a single photo for that day was incredibly difficult because I just wanted to experience everything it had to offer, right away!
Why it sounds good
You can see a beautiful display of your own photos that will make you proud to share your photo every day just to see your mosaic fill up more and more. The statistics on your page can boost your confidence and dedication as well as you see the number of views your photos have received slowly climb higher and higher.
Your percentage of the project that is complete is right there as well, quietly encouraging you to keep going because, look! you’re already ten percent done!
You can track the projects of those you’re interested in, such as someone who is pursuing a particular theme with their project, or another person who started on the same day as you and becomes your new Tookapic buddy.
The Recent Photos tab lets you scroll through every photo that has been posted whether it’s from someone who has been using the site since day one or someone who has just started day one. This ensures that everyone gets exposure and the chance for others to see and consider their photos.
There is a weekly theme that you can participate in that has no judging or competition: you are all simply working together to create a great collection of photos on a certain topic for everyone’s viewing pleasure.
The community is welcoming and knowledgable. Whether you’re a professional or an amateur, you can meet good people here who can encourage you as you improve your photography, and sympathize with you when you’re sick and post a picture of a lamp for the third day in a row.
There is an entire talk dedicated to chatting with each other and getting to know people on the site. From young teenagers to retired adults, everyone on this site is heartily welcomed and valued.
Why it’s exactly right
Tookapic makes the 365 project fun again. It has so many amazing features that you can stop worrying about whether anyone will even see your photo, or if you’ll come up with an idea for the day, and start enjoying the project again.
You can do just as much or as little with it as you want. If every photo will be titled “#1” through “#365” and that’s all the information you include, then that’s fine! If you want to tell your life story day by day with your project, that’s fine!
Tookapic reminds us that as long as you take a photo every day, then you are doing it right. How you work your project out after that requirement is up to you! The options you have for your project only keep improving since the site is still being updated regularly with input from the users and direct responses from Pawel Kadysz, one of the website’s developers. If you have questions or ideas, you know that they are heard and valued.
There are so many more reasons why Tookapic is the best option around for running a 365 project, but really, it’s better for you to just start looking around yourself and experience it! When you realize how much you love it, you’ll want to upgrade your account right away to get even more awesome features from the site and support its continuation.
Cover pic by Łukasz Brożek.