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How to Fail at Your ‘One Photo a Day’ Project

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marcin_2

“365 Days of Photos,” “One Photo a Day,” “One Shot, One Day,” “365 Challenge” – Do these sound familiar to you? Have you ever wanted to take at least one photo a day, every day… and I mean Every. Single. Day?

Well I did. I read a few interesting articles about it and I must say I got very excited back then. But then I started making mistakes. Here are a few great ways I found that’ll make sure you fail at your One Photo a Day project:

Put Unreasonably High Demands on Your Shots

At first you may think, “Well, it’s not a big deal if I don’t have enough time to shoot every day. I may take a shot of my breakfast, my cat, or my feet and, hurray, I can cross out a day from my calendar!”

The perspective slightly changes when it is not enough. You start to think your shots are rubbish. I can do better than this, you tell yourself.

So what do you do? Of course you start doing better. You think about your weak shots (and you start to think that 99.99% of your shots are weak) and you get yourself together. You start to read books, blogs, and articles on photography. You pay for some online photo courses, and you try to put everything you learned in practice.

And guess what? Rhe magic happens! Your shots are getting better—and it is not only your own, subjective opinion, your friends and family agree. One or two weeks later, after editing your, let’s say, Day 26, you look at your computer screen at 2AM and only one word comes to your mouth:

F%#k! These shots are so weak that any amount of playing with Adobe Lightroom sliders can help.

So what happened? You put too much pressure on yourself; more pressure than your camera combined with your passion for photography can handle. And then you go and make it worse… you start to browse through famous photographers’ work and immediately feel even worse. It’s 3AM now.

The Right Way

Keep your cool! Don’t overanalyze your work; don’t take it (or yourself) too seriously. Yes, it is your passion, you love it, but that’s not the point. The point is to play with your camera and find joy in your photography.

Remind yourself that most people never even attempt a challenge like this, but you did. Believe me, you are doing great!

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Take at Least 100 Photos a Day and Use Developing Software Excessively

You’ve got a digital camera, and that comes with hundreds of gigs of space on the SD card, ready to be filled with your images. Not 24 or 36 images, but dozens or even hundreds of them. Why not take 100 or 1,000 shots every day and pick the best ones?

Not so fast. At the end of the day you need to download all the stuff you captured, delete the shots that are useless, blurry etc., decide which ones you might want to keep, and catalog them. Finally, you start to move Lightroom sliders around to develop the “perfect” shot with elegantly balanced colors or ideal black and white tones.

And there you have it: your photo of the day.

But wait a second… 15 minutes later the shot that was so perfectly developed lost some of the magic it had before. You need to make few more adjustments. That takes you about 30 more minutes and yes—there you have it—your photo of the day.

It only took you 2 hours of your precious time. You can repeat it every single day, right?

The Right Way

Try not to press that shutter button 60 times per minute. Of course, when you are sure the scene is worth capturing, don’t hesitate! Do it, and use burst mode if you have to. Make the most of it. But then delete the weak shots right away.

It’s always better to have your memory card filled only with neat shots.

Also, try to work with editing software as little as possible. Focus on developing your own editing style, and save them as presets. Be your own critic, but don’t waste your time capturing or trying to save weak photos.

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Stick to What You Know

You love street and urban photography, so you will hit the streets and do everything you can to look for that ideal frame.

Also, you can’t do without black and white; adding color to a photo causes you a lot of problems. You love your black and white tones so much that you do not dare leave your comfort zone and try taking a few creative color shots.

You visit more or less the same places at the same time of the day. You don’t change your point of view at all, you stick to schemes in your head that you follow while taking a picture. All in all, you chose the path well trodden.

It’s like putting on a well-worn coat every single day… but maybe it’s high time you wear something else.

The Right Way

See the photo below I titled “Foggy Doggy?” It was Day 95. Instead of searching for people in perfectly framed situations, I took a 5-minute walk from the block of flats where I live and snapped this photo of a dog waiting for his owner.

The mood of this moment was so unique that I was really pleased with the effect, and the fog adds a lot to the overall atmosphere of the photo.

What I’m trying to say is: throw all of your old habits out from time to time. Go with the flow, take a picture you are not accustomed to taking. You can only benefit from it.

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Idolize the Masters of Photography

The way the great photographers took their shots and framed their subjects is the only right way for you.

You read books on photography and follow all the tips and tricks, regardless of whether you feel them or not. The only problem is that there are dozens of outstanding photographers and hundreds of great ones, and you find yourself easily tempted and constantly switching from one to another.

The Right Way

Do you need to look up to the great masters of photography? Hell yes! It’s a natural source of inspiration for any photographer and nothing to be ashamed of. look at their photos, at their style, read about them if you feel a need to.

But take everything you learn and filter it through your own personality and soul. I strongly believe that, if you persist, you will come up with your very own style.

That said, don’t force it. It will come in time.

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Use Social Media Extensively

Lately, we’ve moved our lives further and further into the virtual world—this applies to photography, too.

Posting your shots on dozens social platforms, commenting, posting, browsing, checking for the new comments, no comments… etc… etc. One photo replaces the other one, and so it goes, minute after minute, day after day.

Is it really a good idea to share your photography there?

The Right Way

The quick answer is yes! And not only photos of your dog, cat, or 2-year-old. You should definitely consider taking your 365 project online.

There are some great photo-sharing platforms out there to choose from. I started with Flickr, had a short romance with 500px, and that’s about it. I can strongly recommend Flickr for a 365 project mainly because there is a big “365” photo enthusiast community there, so it will be easier for you to connect with others on the same journey and get feedback.

Posting a photo every day on Facebook/Twitter Etc. can also be a good idea, but remember: don’t waste too much time on it. It’s better to use your time taking photos or planning your next photo adventure. Using an app that can do it all for you is a good option. A friend of mine (who I met on Flickr by the way…) sent me a link to Pixbuf: it lets you share your images to all your social networks and photography services from one place—to be honest, I haven’t tried it yet.

The trick is not to become obsessed. The project is for your personal growth not so you can gain thousands of followers, likes, or comments.

So, Why Did I Stop My Project on Day 245?

For me, the first problem I wrote about was the main cause. I put high demands on my photos, that’s for sure. Taking photos was not fun anymore around Day 245—and when I say this I mean that I didn’t feel like taking my camera out of the closet any longer.

Of course, some personal stuff also had an impact. I stopped the project and I am happy with the results—if nothing else it got me out of the house for a 45-minute walk every single day!

But seriously, the project really built my confidence as a photographer. It helped develop my photo skills. Finally, it helped me to discover that photography is my passion. It took me 245 days, and I remember each and every one of them by looking at my shots.


About the author: Marcin Baran is an amateur photographer who specializes in urban/street photography. The opinions in this article are solely those of the author. To see more of Marcin’s work, head over to his website or give him a follow on Flickr and 500px. This article was also published here.

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