How to start a 365 photography project… and stick to it!

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A 365 project couldn’t be easier; you capture one photo every day for a year. And yet, as anyone who’s ever embarked on a 365 project will know, the simplicity of the premise doesn’t account for the extreme commitment required to capture a photo every single day for 365 days straight… 

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Think about that for a moment. It doesn’t matter whether your camera’s kaput, you’re getting married, you’ve broken your shutter finger, you’re on holiday, you’ve had bad seafood or your first child’s being born, you’ve got to get that picture. But as is often the case with photography, the key to success is planning. If you know what you’re going to capture during busy weekdays, a sizeable portion of the pressure is off. And if you simply don’t have time to shoot anything substantial, you can keep a few speedy ideas in reserve. 

You may find yourself running out of ideas as you progress through your year-long journey, but there’s no shame in repeating past projects or looking to others for inspiration. Completing a 365 project is no mean feat, but with the right attitude and good preparation you’ve every chance of success. 

This guide is designed to help you get through the year without giving up. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is there aren’t any consequences for missing a day. If it happens, it happens. There are no prizes for capturing all 365 shots, but if you manage to capture anything close you can bet your bottom dollar you’ll improve as a photographer. Good luck!

How to start a successful 365 project

(Image credit: Future)

1. Weekly planning

Spend a few minutes once a week mind mapping the photographs you intend to capture over the next seven days. This will break down the 365 days into more manageable chunks, help you allocate adequate amounts of time, and prevent you from having to cobble together and shoot a photo idea just before you head to bed.

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(Image credit: Future)

2. Try different tech

Coming up with seven photography ideas each week for a whole year can be tough. Instead of trying to jump right in with a specific scenario, we’d recommend starting with a genre or technique and brainstorming ideas from there. In just a few minutes we were able to come up with tens of techniques attributed to landscapes.

(Image credit: Future)

3. Missing out

If you get into the habit of missing days for no good reason, your 365 project will unravel. However, it’s likely you’ll be forced to miss a day here and there, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Simply shoot two photos the following day or accept you’ve missed a day and move on. Photography is a hobby, it should never feel like a chore.

(Image credit: Future)

4. Keep it simple

You don’t have to capture the Milky Way, stalk a skittish wildlife subject and get up to shoot sunrise all in one week. A 365 project is a marathon not a sprint – there’s no point if you’re going to burn out a few weeks in… Manage your expectations and keep the bulk of your work simple. Do challenge yourself, but only when time allows.

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(Image credit: Future)

5. Team up

Consider roping in a few camera club mates or joining a social media group where you can share your creations and work alongside like-minded photographers. Not only will a little light-hearted competition make things more interesting, but peer pressure will encourage you to keep going should you get disillusioned.

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(Image credit: Future)

6. Get inspired

Inspiration can be found in galleries, on Instagram and in the pages of N-Photo. Viewing the work of other photographers will inspire you to come up with fresh ideas and help to boost your productivity.

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Mike Harris
Technique Editor

Mike is Deputy Editor for N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine, and brings with him over 10 years experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications. Prior to joining N-Photo Mike was the production editor for the content marketing team of Wex Photo Video, the UK’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, where he sharpened his skills in both the stills and videography spheres.  

While he’s an avid motorsport photographer, his skills extend to every genre of photography – making him one of Digital Camera World’s top tutors for techniques on cameras, lenses, tripods, filters and other imaging equipment, as well as sharing his expertise on shooting everything from portraits and landscapes to abstracts and architecture to wildlife and, yes, fast things going around race tracks.