Tammy Strobel (1/5)

How to Start a 365-Day Photography Project

Tammy Strobel is a writer, photographer, and teacher. She created her blog in late 2007 to improve her writing and to share her story. In her first blog she shares her story about how she started her 365-Day Photography Project.

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In Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Curry talks about the power of artist’s routines and choices. He says, “… one’s daily routine is also a choice, or a whole series of choices. In the right hands, it can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism. A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.”

I agree with Curry. For example after my step-dad, Mahlon, died in June 2012, I decided to focus on a creative project to honor Mahlon’s memory. I began a daily photography project called My Morning View on January 1, 2013. Since then, I’ve been taking a daily photo of my morning view with my coffee cup in the frame. My daily photography project gave meaning to the grief I experienced, and it’s fostered creative self-discipline, optimism, and joy.

Today, I want to encourage you to begin a daily photography project. It’s a fantastic way to develop a daily creative ritual—and it’s fun! Let’s get started!

1. Choose your camera.
When I began my daily photography project, I decided to use my iPhone to take daily snapshots. I love iPhone photography, and I wanted to choose a camera that would always be with me. In addition, it’s easy to share images on social networks directly from my iPhone. I wanted this project to be a source of joy, so it had to be easy. If it wasn’t easy to share my images, the project wouldn’t have been part of my daily creative routine.

2. Once you’ve chosen your camera, pick a subject to photograph.
I decided to take a photo of my morning view and to include my coffee cup in the frame. Mahlon and I loved coffee and being outside, and that’s why I decided on this specific photographic theme. Deciding on a theme to photograph gave my series structure. It also allowed me to consistently photograph my view, whether I was at home or traveling.

3. Seek out creative inspiration.
Before I started the My Morning View series, I searched for creative inspiration on Instagram, Pinterest, and blogs. I discovered dozens of photography projects that inspired me to take my photography to a different level. In addition, seeking out creative inspiration gave me the courage to share my photography project with blog readers.

4. Creative ideas will emerge as you discover inspiring projects, so don’t forget to write down your ideas.
I love recording project ideas in my journal. It’s a great place to write down lists and to mind-map potential concepts. I also use the Evernote app to record thoughts and ideas. The Evernote app for my iPhone syncs with the desktop version, and that feature keeps me organized.

5. Make the decision to begin.
Peace activist Mary Lou Cook said, “Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” Cook’s words reminded me to take risks when I felt scared. Starting a year-long project can be scary. For example, I was scared that readers wouldn’t like my photography series because it was a new experiment. However, beginning a long-term photography project can enhance your creativity in unexpected ways.

6. Commit to your creative project publicly.
Share your photography project on your website, social media networks, or with a group of close friends. For example, I announced the My Morning View series on my blog, and then I began sharing my daily photo on Instagram and Facebook. Once I committed to the project publicly, I had to continue because I didn’t want to disappoint myself or my readers.

Parting words…
Creative projects can infuse a sense of purpose into your daily life. In addition, they can take you to unexpected places. For example, I never expected my photography series to turn into a book or be featured in magazines. More importantly, I’ve received notes from readers who tell me the project has inspired their daily routines, and that brings a tremendous sense of happiness.

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