If you’ve been following me on Facebook or Twitter, you already know that I’ve been participating in a photography challenge called The 365. For those of you who have never heard of this, it’s an exercise where you take one picture a day, and usually post it up on Flikr. I learned about this from a friend who used to be a talented photographer, but now is an amazing photographer which she credits to her participation in this project. What she didn’t yet realize but came to really appreciate is that it’s not only a fun hobby or challenge, it’s a fantastic learning experience.
So here are the rules: You have to take one picture every day for a year (hence “365”). You can take as many photos as you like, and even post them all, but you have to take at least one, and you can only choose one for the project (in my case, adding one to the 365 group). Oh, and that photo had to be taken on that day. This is actually the toughest part, for two reasons. First, obviously you have to take a picture every day. This can itself be a hell of a challenge. It seems like a simple thing to do – click button, upload picture – once a day, but it’s strange how often your life gets in your way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve raced around looking for some kind of subject at 11:45PM. Second, and much more difficult is that you have to choose (only) one. Maybe you got into a groove and took a bunch of great ones today. Super, pick one and go again tomorrow. The point of the exercise is to practice. Practice practice practice. And then there are some days, the perfectionist in you starts to set in, and as your standards begin to rise (for me usually in a more delusional kind of way), you might have to choose some lesser-of-the-evils photo. Oh well. Post one, learn and move on.
If you want to do it right join a group. What starts as a gang of people with which to share pictures, seek advise and of course commiserate, turns very quickly into a community. The compliments, comments and support is unreal. They start to get to know each other’s styles, preferences, personalities – in both photography and sense of humour. I’m not sure you need to be a member to read this article, but it’s worth a read. (The friend I mentioned is “The Black and White Queen”.) It explains it all when it comes to the 365, including the culture. (As for me, I’m kind of a fringe member. If the group was a grade school dance, I’d be the new kid, hanging around the punch bowl. I’m there, I’m doing it, taking it all in, but without the social fortitude to really get in on the conversations. This is my thing though. Don’t do that. They’re all nice, gracious and very welcoming.)
For me, I really want the practice (and can use it), and really appreciate the feedback and advice I get on my photos. I really think it’ll make all my photos of trips much better. I’m trying to focus on outdoor subjects, but I can’t always do that. Once tripping season starts I think this is going to get a lot easier for me. No shortage of subjects there.
So, since I’m 1/4 of the way through, I thought I’d show off a couple of my personal favourite pictures from my 365Project. These aren’t necessarily the most popular (these two are: Light Trails on Trees, Birds are Jerks), but rather ones that are more meaningful to me, either because of how I got the picture, the subject or, more often, what I learned taking the picture. (Each of the pictures is linked to Flickr. Clicking on them will let you read more about the photo or the adventure I had while taking it.)
So far this has been a lot of fun, but also a really big challenge. If you do Flickr, feel free to keep track of my progress, or even send me some feedback. I always love constructive criticism, and especially like gratuitous compliments.
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