Photograph a photo a day. It seems simple, right? With the new year, I can imagine you have seen 365 photography projects pop up on your social media feeds. The concept is simple. Photograph a photo a day for one year. At the end of a year, you will have a collection of beautiful images that represent how you spent your time.
As a girl who loves photography, I love the concept behind 365 photography projects. It is a great way to document your year. It is a great way to improve your photography skills and learn your photography style. And it challenges you to be creative. All things that I love and thought I would be amazing at doing. Until I tried it.
I would photograph a photo a day and did good for weeks. Then something would pop up, and I would miss a day. Then a day turned into a week, and I would start over again.
And what about the days when I was not inspired to photograph anything? I would check out a prompt list for photography ideas. Then I would catch myself playing catch up on the days that I had previously missed. What I found was I was left with images that focused more on photography prompts and making sure I had at least one photo a day than actually catching real life moments, which was not exactly what I was looking to gain. I realized a few things during my trying-failing attempts:
(1) Photographing daily was hard. Especially on week days like a Wednesday when I would catch a yoga class after work, grab supper afterwards and finally make it home around 8:00 p.m. Snapping a photograph that late in the day did not work.
(2) Photography prompts might not work for me. Were prompts really helpful for me or did they hinder me from focusing on what was right in front of me? Would I rather remember something that actually happened or an image I created for a prompt? What did I actually want to remember about my year?
(3) I loved the idea of photographing every day moments.
Insert last year and my determination to find a way to photograph personal moments that I enjoyed.
At the beginning of 2016, I looked at my personal/every day photography differently. I loved the 365 photography project concept, but with my daily schedule photographing every day (and even every week) might not work for me. I needed to be more flexible. I loved the idea of photography prompts, but the images created were not a true representation of me. When I got stuck I decided that instead of focusing on prompts, I would focus on one word to inspire my photography. Honest.
And, y’all those simple tweaks worked for me. It made such a difference in my images.
This last year it didn’t matter if I took one photograph a day or one a month. It I took five photographs, awesome. If I took fifty, even better. As long as I was capturing honest moments, I was happy.
To keep me focused, I created folders for each month on my desktop and my photo storage site. My goal was to put at least one photograph in these folders at the end of each month. An easy goal that I found very attainable.
Some months were easier than others, but I kept with it. Some months I took five photographs. Others fifty. I ended up with twelve folders filled with honest images that represented my year.
Last month I spent my spare time creating a photobook of my personal photographs from last year, which now sits on our coffee table in our living room. I am cherishing this little book more than I thought I would. I love that the images I have taken with my camera are now in an easy to find space and organized for all to see. I even incorporated my writing into it, and I love that I have space for those words to be printed.
I learned a really important lesson from this experience. If the rules do not work for you, change them. Figure out what does, and go from there.
Happy photographing, everyone!
XOXO – Ashley “The Future Mrs. Hooker”