I’m halfway through with my 365 project today. Here’s what I have learned:
1. Getting a good picture, for me, has nothing to with how busy I am, in what mood I am, or how many photographs I take that day. It has mostly to do with just being in the right place at the right time.
2. Carrying a camera around all day is actually not that much of a big deal. In fact, I have a hard time imagining not doing it anymore after the project is over. It’s not really my style to do documentary or street style photography but a lot of wonderful moments present themselves as I go about my day, and I am so glad for those pictures.
3. Having a bad week, or month, photographically is disheartening. Having to show work I am not proud of is hard. It helped me to curate my favorites from the project and see that the images that stand out over the course of these last 6 months make the downtimes worth it. It also makes me excited for what will hopefully come.
4. Removing the feedback loop from my 365 was one of the decisions I am happiest about, besides the decision to shoot the project on my M9. I have disconnected myself from traffic, comments, likes etc. and have made it a completely personal project, focused on my own feelings about the pictures and writing. I’m very thankful though for emails and texts from family and friends who have mentioned specific posts that resonated with them, that makes me super happy.
5. A 365 project is by far the best recommendation I could ever give a photographer who is struggling with finding their own style or voice. It’s like taking an intensive college course that’s normally a semester long, in 6 weeks. It’s perhaps five years’ worth (or more) of photography condensed into 1 year.
A 365 makes you work on all your insecurities. You have to push through being tired, sick, stressed, busy, bored, and frustrated. You learn to look at your everyday life differently, to really see how it looks with more of an outside perspective. You re-examine old habits. You learn to take away what is unnecessary and find a more simple workflow to make your shooting more efficient. You are humbled, because you can’t get a great picture every day. You are forced to be a little braver, a little more adamant to get the shot you want. You may lose some of the timidity about taking photographs in public. You try new things, some of which you might like a lot and others you might not want to repeat. Through trying, failing, repeating, liking, disliking, experiencing dissonance and euphoria you find your way into a distinct and consistent form of seeing the world around you. You learn to regard light better. You know before you shoot exactly how your image will come out, and you get to know your camera and lens like the back of your own hand. You learn to work with constraints, and to accept imperfections, both in your photographs and in yourself.