A slightly different 365 project
Maybe you know that this blog started as a 365 project. I took 365 pictures in 365 days. Well, you can imagine that it was quite a trip! At the beginning of it I wasn’t even able to properly use my camera, which I got for my birthday the year before. I didn’t know anything about the technical aspects of photography and even less about what makes a good picture. I’m still not quite sure about the latter part, but what the 365 project did for me is that I learned a lot about photography in general. I learned about exposure, about apertures, cameras, lenses, focal length, depth of field and also about postprocessing. I also came in contact with a lot more photography out there just by doing this project. I was looking at photography books, watching documentaries about photographers, going to exhibitions and I looked at a lot of blogs. It really got me into photography again after ignoring it for a few years, so I would say that for me it was a really good experience.
Recently I saw a video about how to take your photography to another level and at some point it said that 365 projects aren’t the way to go. Well, I agree and I disagree with this assessment. For me, it helped to get to grips with technical subjects and it made me really dive into it, instead of just taking a few snaps on the side. If you don’t know anything about photography, then yes, it’s really great to get you started. Yes, you will produce a lot of mediocre and crappy pictures – and they’re still going to be the best of your day – and you will hate it at times that you started with the project in the first place. It will take up a lot of your time between shooting, postprocessing and learning about photography, but still, it will get you out there to shoot.
The problem with it is that you have to force yourself to go out there and take pictures even when you’re not inspired. And this just doesn’t work. It won’t give you any results that you would want to show to other people, unless you happen to have a chance encounter somewhere along the way. On some days you’re going to be too busy to pick up your camera, you’re going to be tired or maybe even ill. During those moments it will be a chore and it might spoil the entire experience for you.
I think the whole idea behind the 365 project is that you start getting a practice of involving yourself in photography every single day. Shooting needs practice, heck, even seeing like a photographer takes practice. I think it’s counterproductive to force the every day part though if you’re really busy, ill, tired or plain uninspired. The important thing is that 365 days you live photography every single day and for me that doesn’t mean shooting terrible pictures of your shoes or your food. That’s just documenting admittedly boring aspects of your life and not photography. I know that now, because I’ve been there! Ideally a 365 project gets you out there to shoot, I mean, really shoot every day. However, nobody can really keep that up, because life usually gets in the way. Instead of taking stupid pictures when you’re not inspired, too busy, too ill or tired, then maybe just pick up a photography book and leaf through it, or watch a good documentary about a photographer on youtube. This will definitely get you more than the picture of your feet. And if you’re blogging about your 365 project, then you can write a post about the documentary or the book you were enjoying.
Yes, I encourage you to do a 365 project, because it can really help, but not one where you necessarily take 365 pictures. Instead you should just live with photography every day. If you look at photography every day it will automatically inspire you to get out there more often and take pictures, so you might end up taking 365 pictures anyway, but then it will be because you wanted to do that and not because you forced yourself.
I myself will go on a broader mission than this. If you’ve read my recent posts, then you will know that I’m currently in the process of applying to art school. It’s one of those crazy impossible ideas that have almost no chance of succeeding, but I want to use it to really get focussed and learn some new things. The next 2 weeks are probably still going to be mostly about photography, but once I’m done with my portfolio I will have to dive right into drawing and even painting. The reason is the following: In the highly unlikely event that I get through the portfolio part of the application, the next round will be a test of ability in both drawing and painting. Well, let’s just say that my skills in that area so far are rather sketchy. My drawing is okish, but doesn’t really hold up to the eye of someone who really knows about art. And my painting? Well, I haven’t held a paintbrush since I left school many years ago and I was terrible at it even then. I have about 3 months to improve and that’s what I’m going to try. I won’t get far and it will show that I’m just a beginner, but if I’m lucky they will appreciate the attempt, considering that I normally work with an entirely different medium. In the highly unlikely case that they take me it will be on merit of my portfolio and not because of my great drawing and painting skills. Still, I want to try to give it a good shot anyway.
This means that in the next 3 1/2 months (100 days?) my mission is to work on my drawing and painting skills every day. I will still try to get out there to shoot often and look at photography every day, but drawing and painting will definitely be a priority.
(All pictures taken with my Canon EOS 450D and my Canon EF 35mm 2.0 lens)