Here’s the thing: I love writing, and I love photography. I love studying them, I love doing them. And I’m not terrible at either of them—on a good day, I can admit I’m actually pretty ok at both of them.
But it’s always been hard for me to actually make myself write, or make myself take photos.
And it’s not easy to explain why. Perfectionism’s a problem, definitely. Sometimes it really is a lack of motivation, and sometimes it’s that I build it up so much in my head that I can’t bring myself to start. (Or worse, I have a couple of bad days in the middle of a project, and I put too much weight on them… and can’t get started again.) Sometimes, I think I’m just lazy.
I’ve done well at getting past these blocks when it comes to writing. I write more days than I don’t lately, and I feel good about what I’ve been producing. I’ve made writing friends, people I talk with on a regular basis—about the process, and the challenges—and who help keep me moving forward. (And vice versa! Helping other people get through their own blocks actually does wonders for my own motivation.)
Photography… I’m not quite there yet. I’ve had good moments, and I’ve got some acquaintances who, when I can get over myself and share my photos, are really supportive. (Seriously: thank you. It means more to me than I can say, and I feel awful for not even opening Instagram and returning the favour in… five months? I am so sorry about that.)
With writing, I tend to have concrete projects I can work on: specific stories that I can take from concept to (eventually, hopefully) finished draft. A lot of the photography I do (or try to do) doesn’t work like that, so I’m always trying to overcome the inertia to get started.
Obviously, I need to figure out how to approach photography the way I do writing, and find specific projects to work on.
As 2019 approached, I was pretty sure I was going to try my hand at another 365 project. That was (mostly) a lot of fun when I did it in 2017, and… I was a little desperate for ideas, and a 365 is always a good fallback. But then January 1 rolled around, and I spent all day in pyjamas, tearing down the Christmas tree and packing away the decorations and generally running on autopilot because the cat doesn’t believe in holidays and woke me up at 6am on the dot and I’d only managed three or four hours of sleep.
I didn’t take any photos that day. And that felt like a terrible way to start the project, so… yeah. I didn’t.
I’ve got a birthday coming up. Like… in a couple of days. And that’s as good a time as any to start a 365 project. Or 366 project, since I’m going to go from one birthday to the next, and include both days. (Ideally, I’ll continue past that. I’m hopeful that I’m structuring this particular project in a way that will just… encourage me to take photos and share them on a daily basis.)
Because it’s me—and because I’ve learned from my previous 365 project—I’m giving myself some guidelines:
1. Work on Mini-Projects Through the Year
I really liked my 100 Days of B&W project from last year. And limitations really do breed creativity. So, during the course of the year, I’m going to find themes and projects to work on within the larger 366-day project: landscapes, or still life, or… I don’t know. (Probably not a black & white project—I’m kind of leaning toward B&W anyway—but I might specifically focus on colour for a month.)
2. Prioritize real cameras over my phone.
I think we’re all guilty of it: phones are always right there, and at this point the camera on any phone is pretty damned good. So it’s easy to rely on my phone if I want to take a picture. But no matter how good that camera is, it’s not as good as any of my real cameras. And I need the practice: my technical skills with those cameras aren’t awful, but they’re not where I’d like them to be… because I’m more likely to pull out my phone.
For this project, I’m going to make a point of using a real camera—DSLR, film, or instant—more often than not. I’m not going to set my phone aside entirely (sometimes it really is the only camera that’s practical to carry), but I’m going to try to avoid it as much as possible.
Which brings me to…
3. Take one photo a day. Post one photo a day. They don’t necessarily have to be the same photo.
I am making a commitment to take a photo a day for a year, starting on Wednesday. And, like I said: sharing those photos is important to me. But my first attempt at a 365 showed me that if I try to shoot and post a photo every single day… at some point I’ll just start phoning it in. I’ll repeat myself. I’ll take terrible photo of a blank wall at 11pm and post it, just so I can check that chore off my list.
That’s boring for you, and doesn’t do me any favours. So I’m not going to do that.
I’ll try to keep it fairly consistent, but I’m not going to stress about it. If I have a really good day and get more than one photo I’m happy with… then I might post those pictures on separate days. And if I’m taking my daily photos with an analogue camera, then I’ll still post something every day while I wait to get the film processed. (Let me just mention again how annoyed I am that my most conveniently-located camera store is closing next week.)
… and that’s it. Enough constraints to keep me focussed and creative, not so many that I’ll stall out. (Hopefully.)
As with my previous projects, I’ll be posting to Instagram daily, and I’ll be posting the photos here every ten days.
I’m honestly a little nervous. (Both about the project itself, and the fact that it’s essentially a countdown to my next birthday. There’s a very good chance I’m inviting an existential crisis.) But I’m feeling good about it, too, and I can’t wait to get started.
Are you doing a 365 project this year? Drop a link in the comments—I’d love to see it! (And do you have any ideas for mini-projects I can fit into the year? Because we all know I’ll draw a blank at some point!)