How to fail at your ‘One Photo A Day Project’

Aug 23, 2016

Marcin Baran

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

How to fail at your ‘One Photo A Day Project’

Aug 23, 2016

Marcin Baran

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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‘365 Days of Photos’, ‘One Photo a Day’, ‘One Shot, One Day’, ‘365 Days Challenge’ – do they sound familiar to you? Have you ever wanted to take at least one photo a day, every day… and I mean – every single day? Well I did. I read few interesting articles about it and I must say that I got so excited back then.

Put high demands on your shots. At first you may think – “Well, it’s not a big deal if I don’t have enough time to shoot. I may take a shot of my breakfast, my cat or my feet and… hurray I can cross out a day from my calendar”. The perspective slightly changes when it is not enough. You start to think – my shots are rubbish, I can do better than this. So what do you do? Of course you start ‘doing better’. You think about your weak shots (and you start to think that 99,99% of your shots are weak when you look close enough) and you get yourself together. You start to read books on photography, blogs and articles. You pay for some online photo courses and finally you try to put everything you learned in practice. And guess what – the magic happens! Your shots are getting better – and it is not only your own, subjective opinion but also your friends and family share this view. One or two weeks later after editing your let’s say Day 26, when it’s 2 a.m., you look at your computer screen and only one word comes to your mouth:

F%#k ! These shots are so weak that any amount of playing with Adobe Lightroom sliders can help.

So what had happened? Well, you put such a pressure on yourself that your camera combined with your passion for photography couldn’t handle it. So what can you do to make it worse? You start to browse through famous photographers’ work and while doing it, more “F” words come to your mouth. It’s 3 a.m. and you go to sleep.

The right way: keep it cool! Don’t analyze too much, don’t take it too seriously. Yes, it is your passion, you love it, but hey – play with your camera, find a joy of photography. Tell to yourself that others don’t even try to take a challenge as this, and you took it. Believe me – you are doing great!

You’ve got mail | Day 18 / 365
You’ve got mail | Day 18 / 365

Take at least 100 photos a day and use developing software excessively. You’ve got a digital camera of course and terabytes of space on the SD card ready to be filled with your images and believe me not 24 or 36 images, but basically dozens or even hundreds of them. Why not taking 100 shots a day and picking the best one? Not so fast. At the end of the day you need to download all the stuff you captured, delete the shots that are useless, blurry etc. and think about others that you might leave and catalog them. Finally, you start to move Lightroom sliders around to have a perfect shot with elegantly balanced colors or ideal black and white tones. And there you have it – your photo of the day. But wait a second – 15 minutes later the shot that was so perfectly developed lost some of the magic it had before. So you need to make few little adjustments that take you about 30 more minutes and yes – there you have it – your photo of the day. It only took you 2 hours of your precious time. You can repeat it every single day, right?

The right way: try not to press the shutter button 60 times a minute. Of course, when you are sure that the scene is worth capturing – do it, do not hesitate, use the burst mode. Make the most of it. Delete weak shots right away. It’s always better to have your memory card filled only with neat shots. Try to work with the editing software as little as possible. Try to work out your own developing styles and save them as schemes. Be your own critic and don’t waste your time on weak photos.

Junior Photo Editor - Day 172
Junior Photo Editor – Day 172

Stick to what you know. You love street and urban photography and you will head the streets and do everything that you can to look for ideal frame. You can’t do without black & white, giving a color to the photo causes you a lot of problems. You love your black & white tones so much that you will not leave your comfort zone and try taking some color shots. You are visiting more or less the same places in the similar time of the day. You are not going to change your point of view, you stick to schemes in your head that you follow while taking a picture. All in all, you chose the trodden path. It’s like putting on a well-worn coat every single day. It’s high time for you to wear something else.

The right way: see the photo below I entitled foggy doggy? It was day 95. Instead of searching people in perfect frame situations, I took a 5 minute walk from the block of flats where I live and I took a picture of a dog waiting for his owner. The mood of this moment was so unique that I was really pleased with the effect. The fog adds so much to the overall atmosphere of the photo. What I am trying to say is: leave out all of your habits from time to time, go with the flow, take the picture you are not accustomed to. You can only benefit from it.

Foggy Doggy | Day 95 / 365
Foggy Doggy | Day 95 / 365
City Lights | Day 135 / 365
City Lights | Day 135 / 365

Look up to the masters of photography. The way the great photographers took the shots and framed their subjects is the only right way for you. You read books on photography and follow all the tips and tricks regardless of whether you feel them or not. The problem is that there are dozens of outstanding photographers and hundreds of great ones and you can be easily tempted to switch from one to another.

The right way: do you need to look up to the masters of photography? Hell yes! It is a natural way for a photographer. Nothing to be ashamed of. Look at their photos, at their style of work, read about them if you feel a need to. Take everything you want and filter it through your own personality and soul. I strongly believe that if you persist you will come up with your very own style. But on the other hand – don’t force it. What will come, will come.

Urban Skywalker | Day 200 / 365
Urban Skywalker | Day 200 / 365

Use social media extensively. We tend to move our lives to virtual world, same applies to photography. Posting your shots on dozen social platforms, commenting, posting, browsing, checking for the new comments, no comments… etc… etc. One photo replaces the other one, and so it goes, minute after minute, day after day. Is it really a good idea to share your photography there?

The right way: quick answer – yes! And not only if your dog, cat or 2-year old child is your only critic. You should consider going online with your 365 days project. There are some great photo-sharing platforms out there to choose from. I started with Flickr, had short romance with 500px and that’s about it. I can strongly recommend Flickr for 365 days project mainly because there is a quite big ‘365’ photo enthusiasts community there so it will be easier for you to connect with them and gain feedback. Free of charge account is enough, however you can try the paid one and see whether you need it or not. Posting your photos on a daily basis on Facebook/twitter etc. can also be a good idea but remember – don’t waste too much time on it, better use that time for taking photos or planning your next photo walk. Using an app which can do it for you is also something worth considering. Friend of mine (whom I met on Flickr by the way) sent me a link to pixbuf.com. You can share your images to all your social networks and photography services from one place, plan your upload time etc. looks great but to be honest – I haven’t tried it yet.

So why I stopped my project on Day 245 instead Day 365? I guess the first problem I wrote about was the main cause. I put high demands on my photos, that’s for sure. Taking photos was not fun anymore around day 245 and by saying this I mean – I did not feel like taking my camera out of the closet. Of course some personal stuff also had some impact. I stopped the project and that’s it. I am happy with the results – anyway I had at least 45-minute walk every single day! But seriously, it really built my confidence as a photographer. It helped to develop my photo skills. Finally, it helped me to discover that photography is my passion. It took me 245 days and honestly I remember each and every one of them by looking at my shots.

So, how about you? Are you ready?

About The Author

Marcin Baran is an enthusiast photographer based in Poland. He specializes in urban,  street and human element photography. You can see more of his work on his site, and follow him on Flickr. This article was also published here and shared with permission.

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3 responses to “How to fail at your ‘One Photo A Day Project’”

  1. Massimiliano Schilliro Avatar
    Massimiliano Schilliro

    I did mine about 5 years ago. Nice experience and even a book published online for free. Do it again??? It’s hard now and I understood how many “waste” photos we take just because it’s easy now and we even don’t look at all. To don’t talk about the tons of filter we apply just because our crap photo will look “better”
    http://Www.keigomoriyama.com

  2. Grace S Avatar
    Grace S

    I’m up to day 236 today on my project for this year. Still enjoying it mostly though some days I am not happy with any of my shots. I found a really great 365 project community just a few days after I started, it is here https://tookapic.com/?u=9725 and it has people from all over the world, and everyone is really friendly and supportive. If you ever want to do another 365 project you should check it out :) I think that without it I might have quit before now.

  3. Fernando Adrian Avatar
    Fernando Adrian

    great article. I think that post your project on social media is not helpful, is like you need everyone’s approval, and I think is the opposite, you need to know the feel in your photos without anybody’s opinion.