My 365 Project:
A Stupid, Rewarding Challenge
I was told by the various authorities on the interwebs that a 365 Project was either a stupid idea or a rewarding challenge. After weighing the pros and cons, I decided to take on this “Stupid, Rewarding Challenge”.
I did it because I wanted to improve my photography. I wanted to “see” better. I was also trying to overcome a “funk”. I felt I hadn’t picked up my camera enough through 2016 — I wanted to condition myself to shoot more.
Of course, I had my misgivings about taking this on …
What would I shoot? Surely I’d run out of ideas!
How would I stay motivated? I mean, I can get pretty lazy!
What if I get sick? It is bound to happen!
Over the course of the year all of my fears came true. I was horribly unmotivated at times, but pushed through the malaise to photograph something those days. I was sick a few times (an understatement, but that’s a story for another time), but managed to fight through the maladies to fulfil the daily task. And I did struggle to find subjects.
Add in time constraints from work and travel, and I had more than my share of days where I produced some un-inspired, sub-par images. But I don’t want to dwell on the negative.
This page is to highlight some of the work I am happy with and to report on what I learned. So check out the images They are in buckets below:
- Connor Thomas: Our grandson, who is always a joy to photograph
- The Storefronts of Lawrence (and one of Lowell, I think): I had started this series a couple of years ago. 365 helped me re-boot it.
- Boston: Part of my working life takes me to Boston. I tried to take advantage of the city on the days I was there.
- Street Photography: This is the area I grew the most. I never considered myself a street photographer, but it was a natural place to go to fulfill a daily image.
- Other Favorites: These are images that resonated with me for one reason or another.
If you click on any one of the thumbnail images you can view the images full screen and click through them.
At 3 years old, our grandson Connor loves the camera, and the camera loves him. Whenever he paid us a visit, or we visited him, my subject for the day was a foregone conclusion.
(Background: Day 346: Tubby Time)
What Went Well?
In short, a lot of things went well for me in this.
I developed better habits. The fact that I almost always had to have a camera with me meant that I always had to have a sufficiently charged battery and a roomy memory card. Sure, that sounds easy, but there were times in the past where when I grabbed my camera without realizing my battery was low or I forgot to put the memory card in. I quickly made it a habit to check my battery strength and card port before venturing out.
I became more patient in my shooting. There were plenty of days where I was pressed for time, causing me to grab the image and go. But whenever possible, I set aside time to work the scene. It paid off most notably in my street scenes and the storefronts. Patience also paid off when photographing my grandson, Connor. Good lord, that kid can’t keep still!
I streamlined my workflow. The grind of producing an image a day forced me to pick and process my work more efficiently. I couldn’t afford the time to sit on an image for too long and second guess my processing choices. The results were often more spontaneous and natural.
I experienced less “gear agony.” You know that feeling… “Am I bringing the right lenses to photograph [insert subject here]?” Since I didn’t know from day to day what I would be photographing, it didn’t really matter what lens was on my camera. The challenge was to learn to “see” within the frame of the chosen focal length. That brings me to the last point…
I learned to love prime lenses. I needed to keep a camera with me and I wanted that camera to take up as little space as possible. I didn’t want to carry the extra weight around with me and when shooting (especially on the streets of Lawrence), I didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself with a big rig. My Olympus PenF or EM1MII body with the 17mm prime was the perfect kit for me. I used that lens for probably 60-70% of the daily images. When I wasn’t using the 17, I most likely had the 25mm (50mm full frame equivalent).
Storefronts and More
I rekindled my series photographing the storefronts of Lawrence. And even expanded it a bit.
What Went Not So Well?
I knew that a 360 project would take a big bite out of the year, but I still underestimated the difficulty and complexities of producing and posting an image a day.
My workflow got sloppy. This is, of course related to streamlining my workflow, above. My usual workflow is to process an image, then sit on it for a day before posting to my blog or social media. While I was happy to streamline that flow, several of the daily images could have used some extra care before seeing the light of day.
This was especially true of images I posted from my phone. Which brings me to:
Time and travel were not my friends. Time of course, I knew would be an issue, particularly on long work days. I found myself wandering around the office looking for something to photograph. While I was happy with some of the images from those days, most were of the “mail it in” variety.
Travel presented additional challenges. Unless I had my laptop (usually not), I was forced to transfer an image from my camera to my phone, process it in Snapseed and post it to my Blog and Facebook from there. That is not even close to my preferred workflow. My image selection was fine, but I felt my processing suffered.
A big backlog. The 365 consumed almost all of my processing and posting time, leaving me little time to post any additional work. I still have a backlog of images from my trip to Berlin and other adventures that need to breathe.
Some images from the days I worked in Boston.
As the days started to wind down, friends started to ask me if I planned to keep this going. The answer is a resounding NO!
I enjoyed the challenge, but have no desire to put myself through this gauntlet again.
The challenge instilled in me some good habits and helped to push me in new directions.
In 2018 I’ll continue to build on my Lawrence series, which means more storefronts and more street photography.
Obviously I can’t say I will be shooting more frequently in 2018, but I can say that as a result of 2017, I will be shooting quite often. That should translate to fewer, but higher quality images overall.
The challenge of producing an image a day pushed me in this direction.
365 days ago I started this project for my own reasons. But I know it would have come to a screeching halt if it wasn’t for the support I got from so many people throughout the year.
I’ll start with my wife, Jean who initially (and rightfully) rolled her eyes at the concept. It didn’t take long, however, before she was encouraging (enabling?) me. She would often suggest a subject and was always available to critique my work and help me decide on what to commit to the blog.
My friends, in person and virtually. I got a lot of support and encouragement from my friends on Facebook. Your comments (even the snarky ones, Bill Callagy) were encouraging and helped keep me motivated.
Of course, my good friend, Fran who always had something lined up for me to photograph whenever I paid a visit.
My friends at The Photo Frontier, a wonderfully creative and supportive Facebook community. Their WE35 project helped me embrace the simple.
Some random favorite images from the year.
(Background: Day 79: Long Light)