Project 365 Tips: Lessons from my first 365 Photo Project

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I am Neyssa Lee a Seattle area photographer, mom of 6, planning obsessed, and who help you see the beauty, love and joy, in your own family’s chaos. I also use my super power of time management to help fellow photographers take control of their businesses. Learn more by heading to my ABOUT ME page.

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Hi, I'm Neyssa

Considering a 365 project to grow in your photography skills? Here are my top project 365 tips from my own experience.

With a new year comes resolutions, goals, a fresh start. Last year, I decided to undertake a 365 photo project. At the end of the year I had 366 photos (of course I took on a 365 project during a leap year!) telling the story of my year. 

Before I undertook a 365 project I read several other photographer’s accounts of why they did a 365 and what they learned. Of course, I thought that none of those lessons could possibly apply to me and that I was sure to fail. And yet, I decided to push aside doubt and fear and just go for it. Here are a few things I learned along the way.

My first Project 365 tip is to team up with a friend.

A year long project is a long journey, and having someone else who’s on the road with you is priceless. There are days where you don’t want to pick up your camera, but there is someone there to encourage you. If you’re like me, some days you cannot decide on which image to use for the day, or if an image is better in color or black and white. Just knowing that you’re not alone is so very helpful. 

My next tip is to set your goals and expectations up front.

For my first year, my main goal was to take a photo each day with my DSLR. Sounds obvious for a 365 project. But for me, this meant, cell phone photos didn’t count. This year, I’ve added a few extra goals, like getting into the picture more often, and taking photos in areas of my home that are more challenging to photograph. 

The next Project 365 tip is to expect that you will have photography growth.

 No matter where you are at in your photography journey, you will grow. Honestly, i did not think that was possible for me. I realize that sounds cocky. But I mean, for me I was more afraid that I wouldn’t grow or transform. I had read so many people had amazing growth and I wasn’t sure how I could measure up. But doing something everyday for a year will create growth just in itself. And if you push yourself and really want to grow, you will grow even more. 

There will be photos you don’t love. 

You can’t make magic everyday. Or at least I can’t. There were days (many) where my photo wasn’t stellar, but I took a photo. I pushed through the blocks that come with shooting daily during dark, dreary days. 

Just pick up your camera, even if you don’t feel like it. 

There were days, again, many of them, where I could feel the end of my natural light dwindling and I knew I didn’t have a photo yet. At times, I wanted to just say “oh well” but I didn’t let myself. Some of those days where I just picked up my camera to get a shot, any shot, was when I created a favorite image.

Another project 365 tip is that it is okay to get behind on editing.

 I tried very hard to edit my photo each day or maybe every couple of days. In the beginning of the year, this was easier to do. However, as the year progressed and I had client work to focus on, or we went on a family vacation, keeping up with my photos daily was impossible. It was okay, because I had at least taken the photos. Each week, I set aside a little time to work on images and set small goals. By the end of the year I was caught up.

It was worth it. Last year I had a tremendous amount of growth in my photography. I gained new friends who were also on the 365 journey. Most importantly, I have documented my children everyday for a year. Looking back on those images, I’m immediately taken back to when it was taken, the feelings I was feeling, the stage my kids were at.

I found myself asking the questions, “What’s next?” at the end of last year. I wasn’t sure if I should keep going and start another year of a 365 or try something new. After putting my images all together from last year, I knew that I had to keep going. I have ordered a book of just my 365 images and I cannot wait to have it in my hands, a tangible representation of the heart I put into the project, the growth I experienced, and the experiences my family had in 2016. 

It’s not too late to start your own 365 project. I encourage you to give it a try, jump in, and see that even if you miss a day here and there, you will be grateful for those days you did pick up your camera to capture the world around you.

For more photo tips, head to my YouTube Channel and to my Photo Tips for Moms Resource Page

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