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How to do a Photography 365 Challenge

Project 365 photography challenge
(Image credit: Amy Davies)

Having an ongoing photography project is a fantastic way to boost your skills as a photographer. The dedication, practice and perseverance can really pay massive dividends. One of the most popular photography projects - particularly as a new year dawns - is Photography 365, whereby you take at least one photo every day for an entire year. There’s lots of other names for this kind of project, including “Photo a Day Challenge”, “Daily Photo Project” and so on.

In essence, this is a straightforward type of photography project, giving you plenty of scope to invest as little or as much time as you’re prepared to give it. There’s also lots of angles (if you can forgive the pun) you can approach a Project 365 from to tailor it exactly to your own interests. There’s very few “rules” that you have to follow - and even those that do exist you should feel free to break if it suits you better.

In this guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the common questions you might have before you start a Photo365 challenge, hopefully inspiring to give it a go for yourself. Please feel free to share your own projects and tips for other readers. 

When should you start a 365 Photo Project?

Although lots of people start a Photo A Day project on January 1st, that doesn’t mean you can’t start it on any other day of your choosing. The important point is to start it when you feel ready and have the time to do it - rather than necessarily on an arbitrary date. That said, starting on January 1st gives you a great snapshot of an entire year. One fun alternative is to start it on your birthday and capture a year in your life.

Should a Photo365 have a theme?

Everyone can - and does - approach the idea of a Photo365 differently. For many people, it will be themeless, giving you the scope to approach each day however you want to. However, for a lot of people, having a theme helps to concentrate the mind and ideas - meaning it can actually be easier than it being completely random. There’s literally hundreds of themes you could try - from something as simple as certain colours or what you see in your neighbourhood, to something more complex, precise or detailed. Try making a big list of ideas for themes before you start your 365 and seeing what appeals the most. Other approaches include changing the theme by week, by month, by quarter, by season or some other way of splitting it up. You might also find that once you start your project, you naturally gravitate towards some kind of subject or theme - and if it feels good, we say go with it.

Project 365

(Image credit: Amy Davies)

How long should I spend on a Photo a Day Challenge?

The beauty of a Photo365 is that you can take as little or as much time as you like. Perhaps you only want to invest a few minutes a day taking quick snaps while out and about. Perhaps you want to invest lots of time creating elaborate and different set ups. There are no hard and fast rules here, however, it can be wise to think about how much time you have before embarking on it. Being realistic will help give you a better sense of achievement than if you over-commit and it ends up becoming a chore.

How do you display photos from a daily photo project?

Displaying your daily photo online can be a great way of motivating yourself to keep going. You can also benefit from connecting to others undertaking the same challenge, too. You can simply display your photos on your standard social media feeds, but it can also be beneficial to set up a specific account just for your daily photo challenge, or even perhaps a website or blog if you like. Sites such as Flickr allow you to place photographs in specific albums, which is another approach. Keeping your daily photos separate from other types of posts will give you a cleaner overview of the project, especially as the year goes on.

How do you cope with days when you have no time or inspiration?

It’s very difficult to find solid inspiration every day, and there will be other times when time runs away from you. The important thing is not to panic or stress - this is supposed to be a fun project. When creativity strikes, it’s a good to write down a list of ideas that you can return to when your mind goes blank. Try to have a reserve of quick ideas for when time is low too - and certainly don’t worry too much if you’re not creating a masterpiece every single day - it’s all part of the journey.

What equipment do I need for a Daily Photo Project?

In essence, as little or as much equipment as you want. Lots of people undertake a daily photo challenge using their smartphone. This has the benefit of always being on you, so quickly grabbing a photo as and when inspiration strikes can be more straightforward. Alternatively, this kind of project is a great way to get to know your camera, or to branch out trying different lenses and accessories. You could also theme your Project365 to match your equipment - perhaps only using a particular lens for a week / month of the project, or even using a different lens every month. One of our regular contributors even went so far as to use a different camera every day for a year.

(Image credit: Amy Davies)

Do I have to take a photo every single day? 

The point of a Photo365 is to improve your photography, and the challenge of doing it every day goes a long way towards that. However, there’s no rules to say that you can’t bend the notion of it slightly if it suits you and your life better. If you’re happy to be relaxed about it, you could try posting a photo every day, rather than necessarily taking the photo on the same day - meaning you could “bank” a set of photos when you have more time and inspiration to do it. Remember this is your project and it should work for you.

What happens if I miss a day from a Photo365?

Many people who have undertaken a Photo365 challenge will find that for one reason or another, they end up missing a day. Don’t beat yourself up about it if it happens, but it can be a good idea to have a plan in place should it happen. Some will simply “skip” that day, while others may borrow a photo from a different day to take its place. There’s no right or wrong answer here, and you shouldn’t feel demotivated to stop if you happen to miss a single day. 

(Image credit: Amy Davies)

Do I have to finish a Photo365 project?

Completing a Photo A Day Challenge can be enormously rewarding. But it’s also true that sometimes it can be quite stressful getting through it if you’re not enjoying it, or it’s not going in the direction that you’d hoped. There’s no shame in quitting a 365 project if it turns into a chore, or if you’ve decided on a different project which you’re getting more from. Doing a 365 can often spark off another project idea, and if that starts to appeal more, pursuing it might make more sense to you. That said, try not to give up too quickly - it could just be you’re having a bad day or week, you’ll usually find that you’re glad you stuck it out.

How can I find some examples of 365 projects?

An easy way to get inspiration and ideas for your own projects is to see what others are doing. Search for hashtags such as #dailyphoto, #photo365 and #photoaday on Instagram and Twitter and you’ll be greeted with lots of different examples. You can also join specific groups on sites such as Flickr, which is often great motivation and inspiration as you’ll find yourself surrounded by like-minded individuals. 

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Hannah Rooke

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specialises in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylised product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.