I just completed my first Project 30, where I practice my photography daily and choose one photo to post on my Project blog. I have heard of this exercise from other photographers, and I was finally inspired enough to start it when I came across this Click It Up A Notch blog post. I know it would be a challenge to shoot everyday, but my work/life balance is finally starting to level out so I thought I should just give it a try.
What is has taught me? Plenty…
Just Get Started: Like the Chinese proverb, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, you simply have to get started. Pick up your camera today. Do not wait until tomorrow. Just do it. Now.
What Should You Shoot? Shoot what you are comfortable with. For me, still life shots of food and things around the house come easiest. You don’t have to leave the house. For example, my Day 1 was a shot of my shish kabob dinner cooking on the grill. Keep it simple. Nothing complicated. Shoot something that comes naturally to you. A simple shot gets you started. A simple shot can keep you going. On quite a few days, I found myself out of ideas. Don’t feel the pressure to always produce facebook post-worth or print-worthy shots. On many days, I settled for a snapshot. Other days, I got better results. Explain to your family what you’re doing. They may give you some inspiration or ideas for subjects. For example, my wife found this spider and its web in our backyard on a Saturday morning.
Why Do It? You know what they say, “practice makes perfect.” How did you learn how to ride a bike? Practice. How did you learn how to drive a car? Practice. How will you improve your photography skills? Practice. How else? Exercise that photographic right brain. Like physical exercise, you have to use your right brain “muscle” regularly to keep it toned and to develop it. It forces you to think more creatively to get better shots. I found myself paying more attention to my shots as I constantly try to make something more out of it. I did not always succeed, but this is what practice is about. Getting better.
Watch for Inspiration. I found it really tough to find inspiration to shoot, particularly on weekdays. It’s tough with with a full time “day job” and going through the same old routine day in and day out. But there are moments when inspiration came out of nowhere. In the previous post, I described the serendipitous rainbow that appeared as I was swimming in my pool that led to my first rainbow capture.
What If You Fail? It’s almost fool proof. You can’t fail. It’s your project. No one will grade you. If you get stuck and can’t shoot a day. No biggie. Writers have writer’s block. (Not sure what the equivalent term is for photographers.) Just pick it up again the next day. The world will not come crashing down on you if you defer a day. No, you’re not cheating. It’s about practice. So don’t fret if you occasionally skip a day. Just make up the lost day(s) at the end, so you have a total of 30 days. Again, remember, that this is an exercise to develop your creativity and photographic skills. And most important of all, to have fun! If you are stressed about this exercise, then you are missing the whole point. Just think of the missed day as a vacation, and just start fresh the next day. So what if you take 31, 32, 33, even 40 calendar days to complete your Project 30? Who’s keeping score? It’s what you get out of it that counts.
Would I do this again? Definitely, with some caveats. It would be so much easier for me to do this when the month consist of some vacation or travel, as these events inspire me to shoot. This is why I got into photography in the first place. I love travel photography and recording vacation memories. I started this Project 30 knowing that my family would be taking a short vacation to South Florida during the 30-day period.
Also, I would rather not have to pick up my camera Mondays through Thursdays. The work week is just so hectic. Unless there was a special occasion, when I have the opportunity to get out of the daily grind, it is hard to find interesting subjects. That’s why I would be more in tune with a Project 52, where I shoot on a weekly basis, mostly on the weekends, then blogging once a week with a favorite photo or two.
Whether you are attempting a Project 30 or Project 52, pick up your camera today and get started. See where this journey of a thousand shutter clicks takes you as you are harvesting the light.
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