So you want to do the 365 Photo Challenge!


So you want to do a photo a day? Yahoo! It is life changing.  It is life improving! It is not scary.  While it can be a little intimidating it is well worth it.

I think everyone with any interest in photography should do the photo a day challenge.  The idea is that if you challenge yourself for 365 days you will improve your photography.  You can do this for just yourself.  You do not have to take the route I did on being very public about it.

One benefit for going public with the photo a day is that it keeps you honest.  The second benefit is that you will get feedback in a gentle way.  If people like the picture they will like and comment.  If they do not like the picture nothing happens.  It is gentler than asking for and receiving critiques.  The last benefit is that you will take improving more seriously.

1001898_529177683796310_507356740_nYear 3

There are many things I learned doing this for almost 1000 days now.  It is not as easy as it looks.  You have to schedule into your day somehow.  You have to be prepared by having your camera with you. You have to plan sometimes. You have to be committed.  I have missed a 5 day period due to being incredible sick one time.  I have a few times where the picture is taken so late that I have posted it the next day.  There is a handful of times that it was not the day of for various reasons, I always try to explain the reason and catch up as quickly as I can.

304946_409192075794872_1786065528_nPlaying with a fish-eye and the parental unit Pops!

I  learned that people love to see these photos.  They like to see you grow and learn.  After time they love to interact with you as well.  I have met so many amazing people doing the POD.  (Somewhere along the way I had a file on my desktop labeled POD with all my photos o day, hence the name POD). I am not the only one.  I tell everyone that the POD picture can be downloaded, saved and used at will.  That is a bit different of a take than most photographers.  Very rarely I will copyright one. I always explain why.  As a result I know several people who have slide shows of my photos running as their screen saver.

I learned that my photography was a journal.  It maps out my life pretty well.  When every day has a picture it becomes much easier to remember life.  It is part of why photos are so very important when cognitive abilities begin to fade.  These photos are also beneficial for many types of health and mental health issues. Review it after the year taught me more about myself than I could have imagined.

27897_431956856851727_1939862602_nyear 2

My skills were not as bad as I thought they were when I started.  They also needed a ton of improvement.  My creative abilities are much stronger now.  When you need to take a new picture every day and keep it fresh you have to think about how to get something new.  It took me five days of the POD to figure out that little tidbit.  I learned how to make sure I got the picture right in the camera.  Less editing means more time behind the camera or other things. My social skills have also improved.  I believe the camera is like an invitation to a conversation.  My camera has created more conversations from random people then my dog ever did.

It does not matter if your camera is a cell phone, a point and shoot, a mini interchangeable lens camera, or a big bad one like mine.   Honestly the cell phone is a fabulous way to do this.  They have come a long way.  You will never have to worry about having your camera with you.

1488269_586788188035259_952819062_ncell phone picture!

If you want to be organized this is what I suggest:  Create a file on your desktop for the photos.  Name the file POD because it is an awesome name.  Off load the pictures you took that day.  Look at them and then delete the ones you do not use.  Be advised, I was not organized.  I now have 93,268 photos on my computer and two external storage units.  It is a mess.  I love my mess.  I work well in chaos.  Most people do not.

Next up, decide if you want to post them publicly.  There are so many routes to go now if you decide to.  Pinterest, Instagram, Flicker and Facebook are just a few.  I chose Facebook at the time and will continue there.  I like how it integrates my life.  That may not be the case for you.  Most people now have one social media site they gravitate towards.  I would suggest the one you gravitate to.  The only exception is that if you are using a cell phone Instagram might be the most convenient.  You do not need to even involve your computer.   That website needs an album that is just for this journey.  Create that album.  Only post the one picture there a day.

Now you are off and running.  Go take pictures!  Oh wait, it does not actually end there.  There is more to consider.   The next few points are what I do and how I do certain things.  You may not need to go this far.  I have to as I have my fingers in way to many pies.  Multitasking is important to me. With multitasking in mind at all times this is my formula.

Four days of the week I get my picture on the way to or from work.  Things change every single day! I was amazed.  When you force yourself to photograph a specific thing over and over again it does something amazing.  It raises your awareness.  It makes you look harder and differently at the world around you.  You see things differently after doing this for a while.    You also might get an easy chance to re-shoot something that did not come out right.

385926_267995919914489_1646283019_nYear 2

One day a week I take the picture around the house.  That could be in a walk, inside the house or some crazy project I am going to try.  It could also be dinner.  Anything is fair game! Except pets and kids, those I limit to three times a year.  They are just too easy and less entertaining to your audience if you decide to go public. I also try to keep it varied in general.  I love naked trees and boats.  They show up to often in my pictures.  It happens.  That is ok.

Two days a week I try for something different.  Festivals, bands, museums, parks and anything else that might be in and around the city are good examples.   The different pictures are as varied as the things in the city you live in.  We have .  That website tells me when Kite Festivals, farmers markets and parades are happening.  I am on this site all the time.

Some days I have more than one picture that is really amazing.  I pick the one that tells me about the day.  I might want it to be a different picture but they do talk to you.  Pictures can make demands.  I follow that.  If something special is going on where I have tons extra I toss an extra album up for that day called bonus shots.  This winter with the amazing ice on Lake Michigan I did just that.  It had some of the highest likes and views of any album I have put up outside the POD albums.

312806_249677038413044_887703484_nYear 2

Never post a picture of a person without asking if it is ok.  I have never had a problem with people being upset.  I always ask.  If I do post one without asking it will be because the person is unrecognizable in the photo.  The only other time it is ok is when a person can expect to have their picture taken such as public performances. Most people love being in the photos I post. Don’t be rude though, ask anyway.

My routine is to post the picture as soon as I can.  That makes it easier for me.  I know a few people who post it first thing in the morning or last thing at night.  It has to be something that fits in your schedule or you will not continue doing it.  The point is to integrate this into your life not complicate it. It becomes natural over time but to start you need an idea of how it fits in.

Taking fewer pictures makes the entire thing easier.  Typically my goal is 5-10 a day for the POD and pick one.  Just last night I took 308 pictures of a play.  It took a lot longer to get one to post as the POD picture.  You might think this was a bad thing.  It was not.  I was multitasking.  Two things got done but only took the time it would have taken for just the play pictures. My point, fewer pictures takes less time unless you already have a reason to be out shooting then use one of those.

Now the most important thing:  Have Fun! Once you get a routine down it gets easier. It took me about a month to settle into a good routine.  I had days I forgot my camera at first.  I had days where it was hard to find a picture because my eye was not trained as well.  Then there is posting the pictures and the computer and editing that took some getting used to.  It took about a month for me to stop wanting to quit.  So stick with it.  Have fun, explore your city and your state and keep taking pictures.

482671_326990174015063_2064235291_nyear 2 first attempts at infrared photography

Find my three POD albums here:

If you stop by to take a look feel free to comment or interact.


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