10 tips for completing a 365 day photography project

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front for the last few weeks, but having made it through to the middle of March I’m still up to date on the 365 day project, most of which I’ve now uploaded here.

It’s worth reflecting on what I’ve learnt so far, especially since it’s getting harder to come up with ideas the more the year continues.  It may seem a bit premature to be offering advice on completing something I haven’t actually completed yet, but I’m going to do it anyway and keep my fingers crossed that I do finish it. If not, feel free to ignore any/all advice that follows because if I fail then I clearly didn’t know what I was talking about in the first place. Either way, here are 10 tips which are helping me get through the project (so far), but do add yours in the comments below, I could probably do with more than 10 tips to get me to the end of the year!

034 Manchester skyline resized1. Take your photos early in the day. You can always take more later but you never know what might come up during the day which could stop you taking a photo, even if you have the best intentions. Better to have something you can improve on than nothing at all.

2. Have your camera with you all the time. I’ve lugged mine around everywhere with me this year, and with some of the travelling I do for work this has meant carrying four bags including a laptop and overnight case halfway across the country and back. But although it’s not particularly convenient, you get used to it after a few weeks, and if you don’t have it with you, you can guarantee you’ll find a perfect photo opportunity which your phone camera really won’t do justice to.

3. As well as having your camera with you, have it out, so you’re always ready for action. Hang it round your neck or tie it around your wrist. Then you’re always ready to go if you spot something worth photographing; if you keep it in your bag, by the time you’ve got it out and set up, the moment might have gone.

4. Keep your battery charged (ideally, carry a spare) and make sure your memory card  is in your camera.  Yes I know this is obvious, but on more than one occasion I’ve  gone out to take photos and left my card  in my laptop from earlier editing/uploading. Which is very dumb but also very annoying.

055 Police museum resized5. Keep on top of the editing. I’m not doing particularly well at this, and I’ve uploaded over 20 photos today which I’ve barely edited at all. On the plus side, not sorting them out for a few weeks makes you quite ruthless – I don’t want to spend hours all at once editing and deciding on which photo to use so it’s made me quicker at deciding what makes the cut. But it wasn’t ideal to do so many at once, I reckon a week’s worth at a time is a manageable number (for me, anyway).

6. Keep a  list of random ideas for photos which you can go back to on days when you have no inspiration or are really pushed for time. I have a proper notebook which I tend to leave all over the place, so I also use the Evernote app on my mobile to jot down ideas (other note apps are available!).

7. Convince yourself anything can be a potential photo, whether it’s the road in front of you or the building you work in. This forces you to think differently about the things you see everyday. Can you find an unusual viewpoint of a familiar subject, or create abstract patterns in the ‘ordinary’?

8. Go back  to places you’ve already visited to help you improve. Often I’ll have a wander around Manchester at dinner time and take photos of a few different things. The ones I don’t use I’ll re-shoot on different days, by analysing what didn’t work the first time and (hopefully) making them better second time around.

058 looking up a wall resized

9. Look up. I’ve found you can create some interesting shapes by photographing buildings at odd angles. I seem to be a fan of abstracts and patterns judging by some of the pictures I’ve taken. Or maybe I just find it easier to see a potential for a photo that way.

070 St Paul's Cathedral resized

10. Spot patterns in your work and see where you can stretch yourself. I’ve noticed there are certain things I photograph which are very similar (like shapes and buildings), so I need to experiment a bit more with different styles. In London the other night I photographed St Paul’s Cathedral, but feeling a bit underwhelmed with my pictures – and not having a tripod to take a decent shot with a slow enough shutter speed at night – I decided to play around with my lens by turning it as the shutter was depressed. At least it hid any blur from resting the camera on a bush! Experimenting with turning your lens or deliberately defocusing a shot are ways of creating a more abstract photo. And you could try re-taking scenes you’ve already photographed using these kinds of techniques, resulting in some really interesting images.  I haven’t done that yet, but definitely intend to as it’ll give me a way of setting up a photo on days when I’m  struggling for other inspiration. And anything which helps that has got to be a good thing.

Share your own tips below!

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