365 Photo a Day Challenge: Start the Year Right

I like to think of myself as an avid photographer, but there are times when the creativity wanes and the inspiration dries up. The trigger finger stiffens from lack of use and generally, I start to suffer from photographer’s malaise. This is when auto-pilot needs to kick in and get me up and running again. How do I switch on the autopilot? With the 365 Photo Challenge–a photo a day for a whole year.

365 photo challenge

Photo by Luigi Estuye; ISO 400, f/4.0, 1/200s, 42mm.

A photo a day keeps the staleness away. Staleness and boredom with a hobby like photography is a killer. Before you know it, you’re advertising your gear on eBay. I have found a simple way to keep the pot boiling on the stove. All my students know this one. It is simple, and it’s most certainly not time-consuming.

There are two ways to approach this:

  1. The simple photo a day challenge. By this I mean that you allocate yourself a few minutes a day to shoot one image that you like or even dislike, for that matter. Just shoot an image at some point during your day. Carrying your camera with you every day would help. Whatever you do, make sure that you take one photo every day. Even if it is the clock on the wall before you go to bed. Of course, it would help if you make your subjects different each day.
  2. The best photo of the day challenge. This is a variation of the challenge and gives you more leeway, meaning that you shoot as many images as you want but that at the end of the day you will select the best one, the one with most meaning or just a random choice if they are all good.
photo per day

Photo by Fauzan Ardhi; ISO 50, 1/160s.

In order to make this interesting, you can add a touch of variety by choosing a theme or using a common thread. I know of a photographer who took a small beach ball with him wherever he went, and this ball featured somewhere in every photograph. Choose something and add it as a common thread to all 365 days.

With the advent of Instagram, 500px, Flickr, and more you can really make this interesting and even generate regular interest in your images. Change your Facebook profile every day replacing it with your daily 365 Challenge shot. People will eagerly log in every day to see what photo you have loaded. Not only will this make you more enthusiastic but it will generate an interest in your images. The same goes for your blog. Upload a daily image and makes some comments on it. This way you can keep a record of the how, when, why and who of each image. This could actually turn into a form of photo journal in which you document your life over 365 days.

why do the 365 photo challenge

Photo by Evan Sanders; ISO 3200, f/2.8, 1/50-second exposure

This could be the beginning of a really fun experience. The bottom line is that you will keep your creativity, inspiration, and enthusiasm alive while at the same time learning and entertaining others. If you can find a way to make your photography fun and inspiring, it will never die. You will continually shoot photos throughout the year.

One more tip before we go. It’s great to sit down and write down ideas and thoughts about what you will do, what themes to shoot, and how you will display the images. But unless you get out there and just do it you will get nowhere. If you will run with the idea I can guarantee you that in 365 days’ time, you won’t believe the improvement and progress you’ve made as you learn photography.

why it's good to take a photo a day

Photo by Jehane; ISO 64, f/3.7, 1/85-second exposure

What the 365 photos show you is just how you have improved. They become your timeline of growth in creativity and skill.

About the Author:
Wayne Turner has been teaching photography for 25 years and has written three books on photography. He has produced 21 Steps to Perfect Photos, a program of learner-based training using outcomes based education.

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