If you follow me on Facebook or have looked through my 365 projects on my website you will know that I am a big fan of documenting everyday life. I am currently working on my 3rd consecutive 365 project and although it is a big commitment the reward of having a beautiful storytelling collection of images of my family at the end of the year is worth it. We tend to pull out our cameras for big moments (holiday, birthdays, graduation, vacations) but don’t always think about pulling them out to document daily routine or little everyday moments. Those fleeting stages and interest are there for such a short time and if you don’t capture them somehow you might forget about them all together. Like for that brief period of time where my 2 older kids would hide out under the bathroom sink in the tiny little cupboard and watch a movie together on the ipad. Here are a few tips for how to create a successful 365 project.
1. The first year I told myself I would take a photo a day and I quickly learned that with life, kids, and work this just wasn’t always possible and I would quickly become frustrated if I missed a day (or an entire week!) so the second year I went easier on myself and though I tried to take photos most days what I ended up doing was I took a series of images throughout the week then divided them up over the 7 days. That way if time got away from my one day and other days my family went on many adventures where I had my camera I was able to fill in the gaps.
2. Have your camera at the ready. You never know when your kids will be doing something silly or you want into a room with the most gorgeous light streaming through the window. I keep my camera charged and on my desk in the family room that way I can quickly grab it.
3. Edit often. I know this seems obvious but if you wait for a few weeks to sit down to a full memory card it can be discouraging sifting through so many images and trying to sort them into your 365 folder. I try to sit down every few days and edit the images. I use lightroom and then import them into photoshop elements to add the date stamp on the image. I have a dedicated folder for my 365 project separate from my monthly image folders.
4. Don’t be shy to bring your camera out in public. Trust me at first I felt so awkward bringing my big fancy camera to Costco and taking photos of us shopping. However everyone around me was taking photos with their cell phones. Once I realized that I now bring my camera with me out and about all the time. If you have a great camera on your cell phone use it and don’t be afraid to include those images in your 365 project too. The best camera is the one you have with you so use what you have.
5. This project is about you, what you like and how you see the world. I try to capture emotion, nothing makes me happier than capturing true happiness, joy, laughter, etc. Not every image has to have perfect lighting or composition and that is okay. I have lots of images in my 365 that are beautiful and that I love and I have some that I feel are so boring and flat and don’t inspire me at all and that is totally okay. Not every image you take is going to be your favorite and that is okay. Sometimes it’s more about documenting the moment than getting it perfect. These images are still an important part of your story.
6. Don’t forget the little details. In my project I work to document major milestones and events as well as everyday moments, and detail shots. I try to get environmental images as well as close up detail shots too. If you take a photo of a subject without their face in the image your eye will be drawn to a different part allowing the story to be stronger.
7. I love playing with light, after all photography is all about light. We can’t only shoot our families in perfectly coordinating outfits in a field during the golden hour. Life happens all hours of the day so learn to shoot in all different lighting. The more you practice the easier it will be. I use to be so scared of shooting in full sun at mid day but now it is one of my all time favorite lighting to shoot in! Some lighting to practice includes- full sun, low light, hard light, back light, side light, soft light, artificial light. It’s fun to push yourself to explore new areas.
8. Don’t forget you were there too. As a mother it’s so easy to just take images of children because let’s face it they are always so adorable and sometimes we barely even have time to shower let alone do our hair. However when our children are older it is so important for them to see how mom and dad looked. So set the camera down on a timer or get a remote and jump in the frame. This year I am making it my goal to get in the frame at least once a month since I hardly have any images with myself in them.
9. When you feel like giving up reach out, consider joining a photography group working on a 365 project. I head up a facebook group where we post photos, chat, and encourage each other. If you are interested in joining our group send me a message via the contact tab on my website. We will all feel like giving up at one point or another. We will get in a rut and you will feel so uninspired. Life will get busy, we will skip several days in a row, you may get sick, or have a major life event happen (I had a baby this year and had the worst case of poison ivy that left me stuck in bed for weeks!) but even then you can be creative and shoot what you can. The images that you will see here posted by other members will inspire us all to look for new light, composition, and subject matter.
10. Have fun! Above all else this is about having fun, pushing ourselves to grow in our photography, and documenting what we want to document. I am so excited to embark on this incredible photography project with all of you this year. Here is to new friendships and many, many gorgeous photos