Lessons Learned from my 365

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It has been a week now since I completed my “Project 365” and I’ve had a bit of time to reflect. I never really had the chance to stop and think about it much whilst I was actually working on it. Life became a blur of work, family commitments, whizzing about the place to take photos, setting up shoots at home, processing, printing, blogging. I really must stress the printing. I decided to print each and every one of my 365 photos out on 6×4 paper and pop them into albums. For too long my photography was something which only ever appeared on a computer screen.

But just why would anybody decide to do something as crazy as the 365 in the first place? What could I possibly have gained from forcing myself to take at least one photo every day for a year?


Lots of Friends

It amazed me just how many people followed my 365 and left comments and encouragement either here, on my Flickr stream, on Facebook, on Twitter, by email and indeed face to face. I feel rather guilty that I’ve not yet spent the time I should looking at the work of all the fellow bloggers who got in touch with me over the last year as a result of my 365. I intend to spend a lot more time looking at other people’s photos and reading their blogs. I’ve long known that looking at photographs is a great way to learn new things and to see the world in a way you’ve never seen it before. I’ve been very bad at actually investing the time to do enough of this however. It’s a win / win situation, I get to improve my eye by looking at people’s photos and they hopefully might gain something from any constructive comments I may leave.


Creative Focus

Very soon after finishing my 365 I realised that it had been providing a real focus to my photography and my creativity in general. I don’t think I’d ever realised the motivating force of working on a project like this before. I have a few ideas for more projects to work upon and I need to come up with more.

This really struck me on the evening of 3rd April, just three days after completing my project. There was what appeared to be a stunning sunset and I’d not even noticed or thought about it until it was too late to head out somewhere and take advantage of it. That would never have happened during the project, I wouldn’t have let a photo opportunity like that go to waste during the project, and I really need to make sure that I don’t let them go to waste now I’ve finished the project.


Everyday Subjects

One thing which helped me to decide to attempt the project in the first place was admiring the skill that some photographers seem to have of being able to make an interesting photograph out of just about any everyday object. It was something I just couldn’t seem to do and I saw it as one of the main targets of the project to improve my ability to do this. I think I can say that I have improved in this respect and that alone would have been enough to justify the Project 365.

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Off Camera Flash

This is something I am probably still at very early stages with, although I used the technique way back on day 3 of my project when I took some smoke photos. Using a flash gun off camera opens up all sorts of interesting lighting possibilities and it’s something I used a lot during the project. I started off with one flash gun which I couldn’t get to fire independently of my camera’s built in flash. I added a wireless trigger, a couple of cheap umbrellas and a light stand. Eventually I picked up a very cheap second flash gun and I want to try to learn how to work to good effect with both strobes. I certainly need to spend more time reading the Strobist blog.

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Improvisation

Referring back to day 3 of the project again as an example, I soon learned that you don’t necessarily have to spend a lot of money to get the results you want. That day I made myself a very basic snoot out of a simple piece of black A4 paper – and I’m still using the same one a year later. That is excellent value for money. You know what you want to achieve, you don’t have the “right kit” to do the job but if you can cobble something together it might just work. And you might just obtain way more satisfaction in the process than had you gone to the camera store and spent loads more money.


Experimentation

Having to take a photo a day for year can lead to quite some degree of desperation at times. It can also lead you to experiment with things which you might not have otherwise tried. Smoke photography and water splash photography are two examples of things which I doubt I would have tried if I hadn’t done the 365.

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Shooting People

I learned during the Project 365 that this is something I don’t do nearly enough of. I have a real dearth of willing models, though fortunately my daughter can sometimes be bribed. In terms of “something gained” from my project, this is simply a realisation that I want to take far more photos of people and something I am going to need to work on in the future. I would like to do some street photography, take more portraits of my family and friends and also work with models should I have the opportunity.

I think those are the main things I’ve learned, along with just how difficult it can be to come up with an idea for a photo day after day for such a long period of time. Now it’s time to move on to other things. In the week since I completed the project I’ve only taken a couple of photos, and they were shot using my old 35mm film SLR. I think I needed a bit of a rest from the shutter release for a while but now I’m keen to get back out with my cameras and start working on new projects.

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