How to Start & Finish a 365 Project

When was the last time you took photos that were purely and solely for you?  The kind that light you up and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside?  The ones that remind you of why you became a photographer?  Photos of your children engaged in playfulness and laughter.  Or photos of a magically painted sky at sunset?  Or even photos of delectable dessert you whipped up from scratch last night?

Better yet when was the last time you printed those images?  Put them in frames?  Hung them on the walls?  Preserved them in books or albums to be cherished for years to come.

As an aspiring business owner and photographer, I know how difficult it can be to make time for your own personal photography projects.  Trying to balance the demands of family and motherhood, maybe even a full time career, all on top of hustling and growing a thriving business doesn’t leave you with many hours in the day to have fun and play with the passion that got you going in this industry in the first place.

The big realization that this was happening in my own world was when I looked back on the first year of my daughter’s life and noticed that there weren’t nearly enough photos that documented our every day living during that precious time. I was so invested in helping other families preserve their memories that I was too busy or too tired to capture the blur of change, growth, and development in ours.

This year, I’m making my own memories a top priority by investing time in a photo-a-day of my daughter through the lens of my iPhone.  This is the 3rd time I’ve undertaken a 365 Project, and I’ll admit I’ve never finished one before.  But this year, I am far more confident that I’ll actually make it to this finish line on December 31st, 2012 – because I’ve set some key guidelines that are helping me actually follow through this time around.

It’s oh-so important to nourish our own souls with photography even as we build up our dreams and capture images for others.  So today I encourage you to plan your own personal photo project.  If you need a little help getting started, here are my top 5 tips for embarking on a personal photo project (and actually sticking with it!).

Ready?

1) Set Manageable And Measurable Goals

A 365-day commitment can be super overwhelming.  Don’t feel pressured to set such a lofty goal for yourself.  For me, the goal was to Capture Daily Life More Consistently.  I knew the way I would achieve this goal was with a daily photo through the camera I always have with me: my iPhone.  But your goals may look much different from mine.  Ask yourself what it is you’d like to shoot more of, then work on the rest of the project execution from there.

2) Stretch Yourself

Choose a technique, a subject, or a skill you’d like to learn more about.  Maybe you’ve finally decided you want to master flash photography, or try your hand at food photography, or explore a new editing program or technique.  Use this personal project as an opportunity to explore!  While learning the ins and outs of my iPhone this year, I discovered THIS incredible tip that I swear must be Apple’s best kept iPhone secret.

3) Choose a Theme

When I leave my projects open-ended, I get too overwhelmed with options.  I’m convinced that’s why I never finished a photo-a-day project in the past — I never had a theme or a focus to keep coming back to.  Pick something you’re totally and utterly in love with and passionate about photographing.  A photo a day of my daughter allows me to wake up knowing exactly who and what I need to capture before the day is done.  And watching this collection of photos grow leaves me with a huge smile on my face.

4) Make a Schedule – And Stick To It

Photo-a-day projects come with a built-in schedule.  But if that kind of commitment isn’t for you, why not try a weekly photo project?  Or monthly?  Once you have set a goal, picked your mode of implementation, and chosen a focus to keep you on track, then you must decide how long and how often you want to actually participate in this project.  Set a specific start date, end date, and frequency – and even go so far as to place them on your calendar.  My iPhone will alert me with a reminder every day at 7pm if I’ve forgotten to snag my daughter’s photo for the day.  And I will admit, there are the days I’ve forgotten. Schedules are just a guideline, and if you forget, be gentle with yourself; find a way to pick back up, remind yourself of your original goal, and keep on going.

5) Share Your Results

If you are in business, I bet your clients would LOVE to see what personal projects you are working on, and sharing what you’re up to on your blog is an easy way to hold yourself accountable.  But don’t forget you should also share through printed products too!  I’ll be creating an album of all 366 photos (it’s a Leap Year!) once the year is complete, and I’m sure I’ll also print a few of my favorites on canvas to hang in my office, too. Figure out the way you want to best display your work in print and be sure to use that to reward yourself once the project is complete!

In the comments below I’d love if it you’d share with me your own personal photography goals.  Are you currently working through a personal project (maybe a 366 like me)?  Is there a project you’ve been inspired to begin today?  What challenges or struggles have you faced in keeping up with your own personal photos?  I want to hear all about it and brainstorm with you here today!

Guest blogger, Beryl Ayn Young, serves as chief photography muse over on her personal blog and serves as a teacher of the photography lessons to nourish the mind, body, and soul.  She believes in lifelong learning, photographic healing & a glass-half-full perspective.

Beryl offers e-courses and and photo coaching which are aimed at teaching you how to improve your camera skills and cherish life’s journey.  Get inspired to begin your own personal project today with one of her many freebie lessons or classes right here.

  1. Kelly says:

    These are such great ideas and what a perfect year to undertake this project when your daughter is at such an inquisitive and constantly changing age, but not yet annoyed by your camera! Great tips and I can’t wait to see your final results!

  2. Beryl says:

    Thanks Kelly!!! I know this is something I’ll look back it and be SO glad I did when it’s all done — some days are certainly easier than others, but seeing them all together in collages like this is so much fun.

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