One sure way to get better at photography is to take pictures continuously. Often our cameras sit on the shelf unused for days and weeks at a time. Granted, the point and shoot capabilities of today’s cameras makes it easy to ‘grab and go’ the next time a special occasion crops up. However while taking pictures really is easy, taking better pictures requires a little practice.
If you are like me, having the desire to take pictures doesn’t mean that an inspiring subject is readily available. There are a lot of avenues that can provide motivation and direction to our picture taking endeavors; contests and classes chief among them. However not every photographer feels comfortable with (or has the time for) these choices.
I’d like to suggest a different route, an option available to every photographer no matter their skill level or the equipment in their bag; a series-based self-assignment that can be carried out over a period of time. In the last several years this kind of exercise has become very popular with photographers and often is called a daily photo blog or a ‘365 project’.
In its most basic form, a daily photo blog is one where a photographer captures and posts a single image every day. There is often no theme just a new picture captured and posted every day. The cool thing is that a photographer can take this basic concept and personalize it to their heart’s content.
What makes this kind of challenge beneficial is that it forces the photographer to handle their camera and take pictures no matter what the calendar says. By committing to taking pictures on a set schedule the photographer limits their down time and stays fresh and up to date with their equipment. Further, taking pictures more often can improve the photographer’s eye. It provides a means to continually turn learned skills into practice, and practiced skills become habits.
The flexibility found in this kind of challenge allows photographers a lot of freedom to tailor it to fit their lives. Maybe a picture a day, every day is too much, so change the rules! Make the challenge to take a picture every Tuesday and Thursday. Anything is possible and customizing is encouraged. However the goal is to set a schedule and stick to it.
As an example I like a theme because it keeps me focused. So for my project I have divided the week into several key days: Macro Monday, Lensbaby Thursday, and Black & White Saturday. And for a year I will work to both capture and post an image that meets the day’s theme.
Posting the images somewhere is a vital part of the process; it is the accountability and control of the exercise. Will you miss a day? Probably, but you’ll have to fess up to it on the photo blog. Where the images are posted is wide open to choice. An album set aside for the project on a web gallery site such as Porter’s Photo Finale Collections, or choose to use social sites such as Facebook or Google +. These web solutions make it easy to share your images and progress toward your goal.
If you would like to improve your photo skills and stay sharp with your camera’s operation maybe a daily photo blog is just the ticket. It’s an easy way to stay engaged with photography on all of those days between birthdays, events and holidays!
A final thought: The gallery of images created through one of these projects makes a terrific photo book! Porter’s 12X12″ photo books offer lots of space to display a year’s worth of images.
For more information and examples, please take a look at the 365project.org website. A popular hosting and community site for daily photo blogs.