365 Projects: What to take a photo of today?

January 30, 2012
One of my favorite photos so far from this year's 366 Project

One of my favorite photos so far from this year's 366 Project

Four years have passed since I last did a photo-a-day-for-a-year project – often referred to as a 365 Project (many months have passed since I posted in here, too, I’m aware of that, but I’m ignoring that and jumping right into this topic). Because four years ago – 2008 – was a leap year, it was actually 366 Project for me. I’ve decided to make it a leap year tradition for me and do a 366 Project every four years. I know I’ve attempted projects of some sort every year since 2008, and have failed every one but the 52 photowalks I did in 2009, but I’m pretty confident I will succeed this year because:

  1. I’m motivated by the fact that I will only get a chance once every four years to do a 366 project (I realize, technically, I could take 366 photos a day in whatever year-and-a-day I would like, but you know what I mean), and, related…
  2. It’s been four years since I’ve done this so I’m not worn out from having just done this. I think breaks between projects are very important. Or maybe I’m just lazy?

Anyway. In 2008, I was doing 366 Self Portraits. What was I thinking? I have no idea! This was crazy-hard, but I was just learning my DSLR (in fact, I got my first one in February of that year), and I think having such a strict subject matter really helped me learn and be creative without being overwhelmed with also trying to figure out WHAT I was going to photograph.

This year, I have decided to really do a “Year in the Life of Iffles” idea. Each photo will represent just what I’m doing that day. Nothing will be staged (other than perhaps moving something around to help with lighting or composition), and at the end of the year it will be like I have a photo diary of 2012. It could turn out to be incredibly boring, but I don’t care!

I was talking about this with a friend and she asked me how I decided what to take a photo of each day, and I decided to let you all in on my strategy, which might also be considered some 366 Survival Tips for those of you also attempting this (somewhat insane) project this year!

Take a photo of SOMETHING at the start of your day

Technically, on work days, I don’t do this at the start of my day because I’m too busy getting ready for work, but as soon as I come home from work the first thing I do is change into pajama pants. The second thing I do is take a photo. Of something. Anything. Often it’s one of the cats, or maybe I’ll snap of photo of John’s work area as I go down to say “hi, I’m home from work, I love you.” This is key because it puts the stress off of me so I’m not scrambling around at 11PM thinking “OH NO! WHAT TO TAKE A PHOTO OF???”

This is one of the photos I took early in evening so I wouldn't forget later.  Not the best photo ever, but hey, at least I have one for that day!

This is one of the photos I took early in evening so I wouldn't forget later. Not the best photo ever, but hey, at least I have one for that day!

You have to eat every day, associate your photo-taking with eating

This doesn’t necessarily mean to take a photo of your food (though, I’m 30 days in, and I’d say at least 10 of my photos are of food or drinks), but if you eat three times a day, and you start associating eating with photo-taking, you’re less likely to forget to take a photo that day.

Besides, like I already mentioned, I’ve used a lot of photos of food. If you’re anything like me, you like food. A lot. I love to cook, I love to eat, and I especially love to make food for other people, so often the highlight of my day really does involve food. If I’m trying a new meal for the first time, I’m definitely taking a shot of it.

Sometimes food photos aren't so bad! I like this one!   Hmmm... now I'm hungry.

Sometimes food photos aren't so bad! I like this one! Hmmm... now I'm hungry.

If you’re doing something you don’t do every day, have your camera with you

I’m part of an organization called Young Professionals of Akron, and we only meet once a month, and even then, I can’t make a lot of meetings, but I was able to go in January, so I was sure to take my camera with me and took a picture while we all out eating dinner after the meeting. This might seem like an obvious tip for for a 366 project, but it’s easy to get swept up in the getting-ready process for something – especially big events – that you don’t think to grab your camera, too.

It doesn’t have to be a big event, either. I typically only go grocery shopping once every two weeks. I shop for clothes or shoes just a few times a year. And heck, with my Prius, I only get gas about once a month. Any of these things could be a photo for that day for me, especially if I keep this next tip in mind…

Look at daily events with a new perspective

Ok, we don’t play games in our house every day, but probably more than once a week, and I knew my flickr stream was going to get pretty inundated with photos of cards and meeples and the like, so instead just taking photos of the board itself, or all our friends sitting around our game table, I looked at the games from a new perspective. You can see the photo here where I got down on the same level as my Stone Age meeples, ready to be placed on the board for the round. I’ve also taken photos of my hand in Dominion (a card game) from my perspective, and another where my stuffed Yoshi was holding the cards instead of me. If you think the same thing is going to show up in your project a lot (like, for me, games), that’s ok! If you’re really trying to document your life, the things you do a lot should show up a lot, just try to make them creative and different each time so you don’t get bored. Or in my case, board. Get it? Ha! I’m hilarious.

Meeples from the game Stone Age

Meeples from the game Stone Age

When all else fails…

Here are the things I take photos of when I just can’t think of anything else:

  • My cats
  • Whatever book I’m reading
  • Whatever I’m eating
  • Something I’m wearing that day
  • A self-portrait
  • The weather
  • A macro of some ordinary object
  • Things around the house that I can use as a texture in photos later (plaster walls, tile floors, woodwork, flour on my countertop, etc).
  • The view from where I’m sitting (what my computer desk looks like, what I’m watching on TV, my feet propped up on the sofa, etc.)

Some of them might sound boring, but at least it’s all something!

First snow of the year!

First snow of the year!

Final Thoughts…

The key isn’t to take the Best Photo Ever every day. Really, the key is to pick up your camera every day. The more you pick it up, the more you start incorporating it into your everyday life, and you’ll be amazed at how, without even noticing or thinking about it, your photos improve and you feel more confident with your camera. After 4 years, I still know I have a long way to go to be an expert, and I’ll probably NEVER be an expert, there will always be something new for me to learn, some other skill I feel I haven’t mastered yet, and the more I use this amazing tool of mine, the more I’ll improve. And you can, too!

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Filed under: Photography
  • Cliodhna-abc123

    i took a pic of my familey and then i moved to littlewania 

  • Sioux 106

    wonderful finding your blog....thanks for the inspiration and that is why I started my website 
    www.wheresmycamera.com on Smugmug and joined flickr to keep improving my camera knowledge but to look at the world with different eyes when you shoot everyday. You've given me more ideas and best of luck to you.  sioux

  • S. Martel

    Wow.... Your blog used to be such an inspiration, but like you, I got tangled up in everyday life and just forgot about certain things (like my blog, and my camera, and how much I LOVE being a 'photographer,' even in the amateur sense). 

    Challenge accepted! 366 project begins tonight!! (Cats await, after all). Thanks Ms. Iffles - I hoipe we can maintain a year together as virtual friends!!

  • Johnsbp

    Nice to see you are back. It's wonderful that you find the motivation to make a good or good enough picture every day, I wish I could do the same.

  • LPK

    Great ideas!  I decided to do a 365 project this year and am always looking for inspiration.  All the best with your project!
    My project at week 5: http://thistimearound-lpk.b...

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