Why 365 project may not be good for you

Jan 4, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

Why 365 project may not be good for you

Jan 4, 2017

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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There are plenty of reasons to start a 365 project. It can develop your creativity and push it further, help you find your style and learn something new. It helps you meet new people and get feedback on your photos. Also, it can serve as a diary when you look back on it some time after it’s done. However, this type of project and this approach may not work for some people. And I seem to be among them. I tried doing a 365 project and it didn’t really turn out as I expected. So I decided to share my thoughts on its negative sides.

It turns photography into a chore

It’s true that 365 project can be great and boost your creativity. But when you have an obligation to take one photo every day, it can undermine the meaning of photography for you. It becomes just another chore you “must” do every day, like washing the dishes, doing laundry or whatever. You may start doing it automatically and without much thinking. And I believe the point should be doing exactly the opposite.

Apparently, studying was more important than photography at the time

It can sometimes slow down your progress

I believe this comes as a result of the previous point. There will be days when you just take a snap automatically so you can say that you made a photo for the project. And this photo can be unbelievably horrible, without any value and without any skill involved in taking it. Every photo like this are only a number, one out of 365. And they don’t boost your creativity or skills in any way.

Did this help me boost creativity? I don’t think so.

It takes up time even when you don’t have it

It may not sound as one photo a day is a lot. But if you prepare for the shot, shoot raw and then do the editing… It takes some time. Of course, shooting + editing is a great way to spend your time, but there may be days when you don’t even have that half an hour or so to spend on photography.

I did my 365 project in 2013. At first, it really kept me engaged and I enjoyed it. But half a year later, my life became a bit crazy. I graduated from college, began master studies in another city and found a job as a teacher in my hometown – all in the same week. I was often on the road, studying in a train, preparing for classes I was to teach between my classes at college. And even when I did have some free time – I would get sick. During this period, even half an hour a day was luxury on some days – and I made a few of those photos from the second point I mentioned above.

free time = flu time

It can make you nervous

This comes as a result of all the previous points. You have “a chore” for which you don’t have time – and it simply makes you feel agitated. And let’s be honest – none of us is in a constant mood for taking photos. In December 2013, after all the mess with the new job, new city and new college – my beloved grandma passed away. Although great sorrow can produce great work – I was really not in a mood for anything but lying in my bed crying. It was enough that I was supposed to act normal at work and in classes, so I didn’t want to pretend at home, too. As the end of the year was really a ton of crap, so were my 365 project photos from that month.

I’ll just snap some light through a comb, screw you 365 project!

What are the alternatives?

Of course, I don’t want to discourage you from starting a 365 project. As I said, it has a lot of good sides even if it’s not always bed of roses. And for some people (more patient than me), it can actually work like charm. So, if you don’t want to get stuck in a rut after a while, this is what I suggest:

  • Shoot every day, but transfer and edit photos once a week, when you have time. This will save you from the pressure.
  • Give yourself a topic for each month, or even one for every week. I did it for a couple of months, and I believe this is something that can actually boost your creativity. When you shoot for a 365 project without a goal (i.e. without the topic), this is when it’s most likely to turn into a chore.
  • Make a plan of monthly topics in advance.
  • Challenge yourself. Just like you can think of the topics, you can use other technique or other piece of gear every month. Shoot mobile one month. Then analog the other. Use only a prime lens the third month… These are only some of the suggestions that can help you develop your creativity and skills. If I thought of that back in the day, I’d probably advance a bit as a photographer after the project. But oh well.
  • If you have a similar opinion to mine about the 365 project, you can try the 52 week challenge. It seems like a bit slower-paced thing, and I’m planning to try it in 2017.

When I look back onto my 365 project, it’s mainly a collection of photos which are everything but good. Of course, there are some decent ones. As a matter of fact, I took some of my favorite photos as a part of the project – but I would have made them anyway. I think that percentage-wise, the number of good photos I took that year is the same as it would be if I’d never started the project. So personally, I don’t think this project helped my development as a photographer.

What do you think? Have you ever done a 365 project and how did it turn out for you? Are you planning something like this in 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic

Dunja Djudjic is a multi-talented artist based in Novi Sad, Serbia. With 15 years of experience as a photographer, she specializes in capturing the beauty of nature, travel, and fine art. In addition to her photography, Dunja also expresses her creativity through writing, embroidery, and jewelry making.

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8 responses to “Why 365 project may not be good for you”

  1. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
    Gvido Mūrnieks

    Me, for past 3 years:
    “I should start 365 project…
    …ou, it’s the 4th already?
    …well, maybe next year.”

  2. Paul Zink Avatar
    Paul Zink

    I appreciate you sharing this. I stopped my 365 project immediately after starting it a few days ago. It felt like a chore more than a creative outlet. I may look instead to the 52 week project.

  3. Bucky Goldstein Avatar
    Bucky Goldstein

    365 days seems a bit long but I did do a 30 day challenge which was pretty good. I took up the challenge because I realized my DSLR just sat there and I would only use it for specific events. My next challenge was to do a project I called roadside. I brought my camera to work every day. As I drove home from work I would look for things to shoot. It had the added benefit of making me drive slower and having me look at the scenery more. WARNING, do not take pictures while driving. I would pull over and park the car to take the shot. Also I would pick different routes.

  4. Jay Jones Avatar
    Jay Jones

    I’ve done two 365 projects a year for the last three years. All of these points are true, but it’s still worth it. Because for me It’s about documenting the day – photographs are video are simply the means. Here’s an interview I did about my projects … https://medium.com/@thejayjones/366-steps-1-journey-be5cf2f8718d#.nsugt72uo

  5. Morgan Glassco Avatar
    Morgan Glassco

    yeah, it completely makes it a chore. I did a Selfie 365 project that ended on 12.13.14

    Glad I did it. It was hard. Got some great shots also felt like I let myself down at times. It’s a mixed bag for sure. Great year of my life though and I have great memories from it :)

  6. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    All valid reasons for not starting a 365 project. In 2011, I had one camera; one that I had bought new in 1980. Prior to the start of 2012, I had resolved to photograph the year 2012 exclusively using B&W film (traditional silver based and C-41) and use B&W contrast filters. It took until March 2012 before I started visualizing in B&W, but that year was my most creative.
    Did I have regrets of shooting in B&W? Sure, particularly when I saw a stunning sunrise or sunset.
    In July 2013, I added a used film SLR; now one camera is loaded with B&W and the other with color. In December 2013, I got a DSLR.

  7. Trino Pam Avatar
    Trino Pam

    I’m on a 365 project without the conscious decision to make such thing. Liberating! :P

  8. Sean Huolihan Avatar
    Sean Huolihan

    I have after many years of wanting to start one have finally decided to bite the bullet and do it here

    http://www.vpmediagroup.com/blog/