The beginning of a new year is traditionally a time when we look to the future, we plan ahead and reflect on the year gone-by. For me, I felt that my own photography had lapsed a bit as the pressures of work had taken over. For this reason, I made the decision that in 2019, I’d kickstart and re-energise my photography and undertake a year-long 365 day photo challenge.
What Is a 365 Day Photo Challenge?
If you haven’t heard of a 365 day photo challenge before, then the idea is pretty simple. The aim is to take and publish one photo every day for 365 days. That’s a full year of photographs. Although, as I’ve found out in the past, it’s not a challenge to be taken lightly. It’s something that demands focus and commitment as you need to consistently find a way to stay alert and motivated in order to stay the course.
For those who do, it’s a great way to develop your photographic eye, as it’ll force you out of your comfort zone and constantly drive you to be looking out for that next image. In turn, this will sharpen your skills and give you the incentive to get out and actively seek new and exciting photographic opportunities.
If you’re thinking of starting your own 365 day photo challenge or have already started one, here are some tips that should help you on your journey.
1. Find Your Motivation
As with anything in life, in order to fully commit to something, you first need to know what your motivation is for undertaking it in the first place. What is your why?
For me, my own motivation came from a desire to want to take better photos and more often. I wanted to sharpen my photographic eye, so I didn’t miss the many photo opportunities that were passing me by.
Other people may decide to undertake such a project as a way of documenting their year, special events such as a pregnancy, the planning of a wedding or the daily lifes of their children. Others may undertake the project merely for the thrill of the challenge itself.
Whatever your reasons, to stay the course for anything longer than a week or two, you need to be motivated so the first step is to be clear on your why. Knowing this will help give you a firm foundation to work from and will help to give you a boost on days when you aren’t feeling that energic or inspired.
2. Create a Routine
Many people have said that setting yourself a routine is a great way to stay focused and consistently capture those all-important daily photos. To find your routine take some time to consider how you spend your day.
For many, the daily commute to and from work may yield a regular flow of photo opportunities. If you walk to work, consider varying your route a little and exploring areas you may otherwise would not venture into. Lunchtimes are usually another time in the day when you are able to have some ‘me’ time, allowing you the space to wander about in search of interesting opportunities. For other’s the end of the day is a good time to set aside for your photo time. It is an excellent way to decompress from the stresses of the day and will give you a way to ease yourself into a different frame of mind.
The key thing to remember is to set a routine that works for you and to try and be consistent in how you stick to that routine. By creating a daily habit, you’ll find sticking to your photo a day routine much easier and soon, it will become second nature.
3. Have a Framework
Many of those who have successfully completed their own 365 day photo challenge, have often followed a framework. By this I mean they stick to a certain app or way of editing in order to smooth the process and to give their photos a consistent look.
Many people, me included, have chosen to use the popular app Hipstamatic. Hipstamatic is a simple to use, yet versatile app, which allows to choose an almost unlimited combination of film and lens filter effects. By sticking to a small selection of film/lens combo’s you’ll start to build a body of work that has a consistent look.
In contrast to this, many choose to use the randomize feature of Hipstamatic. By shaking the phone, Hipstamatic will randomly load a different lens and film combination. It’s a great way to find new and interesting film/lens combinations that you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. It’s also a good way to inject a bit more spontaneity and fun into the challenge.
If Hipstamatic isn’t your thing, then consider sticking to another app of your choice, or following a set editing process or style that suits your needs or approach to the types of photos you take.
4. Forward Planning
Somewhere along your 365 journey, you are going to have days when you aren’t feeling great. The weather may not be the best, you may be feeling a bit under the weather yourself or you may not have had a great day. At times like these, inspiration will be lacking, and your resolve will be tested.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to keep a notebook handy or have a list somewhere on your phone. Use this as a place where you can quickly jot down possible future ideas that you can fall back on when inspiration is running low or time in the day is running out.
It may also be an idea to note down any location that you visited that have potential or cool shots that you took that didn’t make it into your photo of the day slot. By keeping a note of these, you can revisit the said location another day, maybe when the light or weather conditions are better.
5. Join a Support Group
One of the best ways to motivate yourself through your 365 journey, is to connect with others who are also undertaking their own 365 day photo challenge. There are many groups out there on Instagram. Try checking out – #photoadaychallenge or #365photochallenge. By joining in with these groups you’ll firstly find them to be a superb source of inspiration and ideas, but also as a way of receiving support, encouragement and as a way of holding you accountable.
6. Enjoy The Experience, Embrace It And Don’t Be Hard On Yourself
Lastly, I would like to add that if, for whatever reason, you should miss a day, don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t see it as a failure. Instead, see it as a reason to refocus and carry on. Above all, enjoy the experience.
By seeing your 365 day photo challenge through to the end, you’ll have collected together a body of work that documents a full year in your life. You’ll also have fine-tuned your photographic eye, developed your skills and be able to spot potential photo opportunities much more easily. Photos that would have previously passed you by.
Share Your 365 Photos
If you are undertaking your own 365 day photo challenge, why not share them on Instagram using the hashtag #mobiography_365. Share your photos, comment, like and follow others as they undertake their own journey.