Tag Archives: advice

How to survive… June


June (or the end of it) officially marks the half way part. Sadly though, the advice kind of stops the same through out summer as the same problems pretty much apply month to month. In order to try and mix it up a bit, last year I trialled ‘surrealist June’ wherein I took a surreal (ish) photo every day for the whole month. Some were total pants, but there are some photos in there which I still really like and it set me on a different path in terms of my photography.

Out of Reach // 01 06 13


Positives of June

  • Better weather, longer light. Get out there!
  • Flowers. Always changing!
  • Insects. They can be tricky to shoot, but there will be lots of them. Do some research online to find out which flowers will attract which insects and where you can find them and off you go. If you don’t have a macro lens, try buying some extension tubes, you can get them for around £5 on eBay!

Negatives of June

  • More of the same. May, June and July (and August!) are quite similar. Don’t get stuck in a rut.

Storm in a teacup // 14 06 13

How to survive …June 

  • ‘In the style of’ – pick an artist (doesn’t have to be a photographer) and try to do something in their style. Don’t just set out to make a copy of it, but instead try to come up with your own idea but make sure it is in their style.
  • Revisit old shots – this time try to take as close to possible as the same shot. Look for positioning of the camera and lighting to try and recreate it. Where possible though, try to show that you have progressed with your skills.
  • Convince the pet to sit still long enough for a portrait – practice a different technique with someone who wont sit still for long. Don’t have a pet? Borrow one from a neighbour, friend or family member. Even better exchange the photo you take for a visit to their house and a cup of tea with a slice of cake.
  • Document the mundane – try to make every day house hold chores, or the trip to work look at least vaguely interesting. Choose an unusual angle or a really shallow depth of field to help you emphasis details.

June 2013

Standing on the edge of the world // 29 06 13

June 2012

Lupin // 18 06 12

June 2011

Anemone (183 // 19 06 11)

June 2010

11 06 10

How to survive … May

May is month five, meaning you are pretty much half way there! Hurray!
By now you should have hopefully gotten into the habit of taking a photo each day.

Drifting Away // 22 05 13

Positives of May

  • Good weather – the weather is better, and somewhat more consistent. Use it to your advantage and go shooting outside.
  • It’s brighter – even if it’s not swealteringly hot, it’s brighter for longer. Meaning it’s less hassle to shoot, even inside. Natural light is your friend.

Negatives of May

  • Project 365 routine takes it’s toll – taking a photo every day, and the responsibilities which come with it can get a bit …boring.
  • Other people will have lost interest – it really does become a battle with your own will power at this point. “Oh your still taking a photo every day” becomes peoples response rather than a genuine interest in it. The novelty has worn off for them too!

Stationary // 08 05 13

How to survive …May

  • Mix up your routine – work taking a photo into your routine. Go out at lunch or break. Get up early to go out before work. Try to mix it up simply by taking a photo at a different point of the day.
  • Get quicker – people get fed up of waiting for the photographer. Challenge yourself to get quicker at shooting so people don’t get bored of waiting. I remember once going for a walk with my parents. I told them I’d be 5 minutes and I’d catch up with them. Luckily for me they decided to wait. Turns out I was 30 minutes and I’d not even realised I was so long!
  • Revisit old shots – look at shots from the start of the year. Look at shots from before this year. Revisit them and rework them in some way. Don’t try to take the exact same shot again, but change it up.
  • Rope friends and family in for a portrait – practice a technique and spend quality time with a loved one. Win win. Plus natural lighting makes this so much easier to set up (no fiddling with lights)
  • Document the fun – chances are you will be out of the house more, with people, and you might even be having fun. Maybe you’ve had a few beers at a BBQ. Document it. It will be a fond memory to look back on.

May 2014
05-2014May 2013
Staring at the sun // 26 05 13

May 2012
Dandelion // 23 05 12

May 2011
Sunset over the Fields of Sunshine (136 // 02 05 11)

May 2010
142 // 365

A guide to… The Brenizer method

This uses the same method as shooting a panorama (taking lots of shots and stitching them together) except instead of going left and right like you would for a panorama you go left, right, up and down to create a larger image in a ‘normal’ image size (Like 4:3). It creates an effect of a lovely bokeh (or blurry) background. I started doing it because I can only be a certain distance away from my camera and use my remote shutter, I only later realised it was a ‘method’. Apparently a lot of photographers used it and had being doing so for years, but Ryan Brenizer was one of the first to explain it.

I kind of do it a bit differently because I’m usually taking pictures of myself, so I only take one photo of the person in the middle. You will probably find that other people take a few.

Here are a couple of examples of when I have used it: Untitled // 26 03 14

Conflicting emotions // 21 06 15
Before you start.

  • Choose a low (wide) aperture. My lens goes down to 1.4. Stop down as far as you can go, anywhere around 2 is good for a nice out of focus background.
  • Make sure your model can hold the pose. Otherwise this makes the whole thing kind of pointless as you wont be able to merge them.
  • If you aren’t too steady with your hands, use a tripod. You don’t have to use a tripod. Clearly I do as I’m in the shot as well, but it’s not necessary so long as you have a steady hand.
  • Shoot JPEG. This is going to create a massive file, if you shoot RAW it will be a massive massive massive file. Photoshop has limits for how big a file you can save in it, shoot RAW and you’re likely to find out what that limit is 😉 I speak from experience. Also you might find that your computer isn’t powerful enough to process it all.
  • Manual focus. I auto focus on me, shoot me, then switch the manual to shoot the rest. However you decide to do it, just make sure you don’t change your focus.
  • Set your white balance. As discussed two bullet points back, don’t shoot RAW. This means you lose the advantage of being able to mess with your white balance quite as much in post processing.

Burnt to nothing // 31 05 15

1. Take a photo of your subject first. In both of those examples, and the example I’m going to use, that would be me 😉 Cause I’m vain like that. Make sure that your subject pretty much fills the frame, or take multiple shots of them. If you are going to take multiple shots of them, make sure they are standing still otherwise you’ll have issues trying to stitch them together! (Multiple shots might be get really really close to them, shoot their head then the left half of their body, then the right, the the left leg, then the right leg).

2. Take a lot of images around the scene. I took 10 for this one. It is really really really important that the images overlap. For this, more images is better than few otherwise you might end up with gaps in the shot. I went back and re-shot a floor because I wasn’t sure I’d moved the camera enough. Pictures to takeThe more images you take, the more scene you create. This is quite minimal, but it’s quicker for me to write something with fewer shots 🙂 I normally shoot the subject first, and then work  my way around the scene in a clockwise rotation for a shot like this where I’m not expanding it much. When I’m doing a big expansion (like the one of me on the path) I shoot top left to top right, and work my way down in rows. It’s useful to have a visual marker so you know how far left or right to go – like a tree or the edge of a building. It’s better if you try and keep some sort of pattern to shooting, as otherwise you’ll end up missing chunks from the image.

3. Photomerge. Open up Photoshop. Go to File – Automate – Photomerge. Select all of the frames you shot for this. Make sure ‘Blend Images Together’ is ticked at the bottom. Go and have a cup of tea. With my 10 files it took about a minute. If you shot loads, or shot in RAW you might be there a while. Possibly get a biscuit too. After PhotomergePhotoshop basically does all of the hard work for you. It looks at all of the different images, decides which bits of each to keep, overlaps them, sorts them out and creates a layer mask for each. If I’m happy with it I normally select all of the layers and right click – Merge Layers. If your not happy with it you can amend the layer masks by hand.

4. Crop and edit. Spend about 10 minutes editing your shot so you end up with what you were going for… Project 365 2014 (103 of 365)-2Sometimes Photoshop gets confused and can’t match the images up. It is possible to do the entire thing manually with layers and layer masks, but it just takes longer. The image below was done by hand…

At peace // 16 06 15

How to survive… April


I love April, there is an optimism of things to come which I associate with April. The weather might not be super hot, and it might rain a lot, but by jove you know that summer is on it’s way.

Positives of April

  • Easter. OK so some years Easter is in March, but a lot of the time it is in April. Get creative with everything Easter related; bunny rabbits, chicks, eggs, chocolate…
  • Flowers. Get snapping, they should have popped up all over the place. Blossom, if it didn’t start to come out in March should be on the trees too now.
  • Landscapes. Now the weather is more interesting the landscape is starting to come to life. Team this with longer days and better weather and there is no excuse to not get out there.
  • It’s lighter and the weather is better. Hurray! Mix it up by actually going outside to take photos 😛

Negatives of April

  • Loss of enthusiasm. I as touched on last month, March, April and May are the months people are most likely to give up with the project on. There isn’t an easy way to keep the motivation up if you are losing it and will power is a massive player.
  • With better weather comes new responsibilities. Cutting the grass, going out to socialise, holidays etc etc. As the days get brighter and longer people normally become more active, so squeezing time to snap, edit and post can be difficult. Even the thought of having to take your camera with you on a social walk/outing can seem like a bad idea (Friends or family members get bored waiting for you to set up the shot, carrying heavy camera equipment around can become a bore)

How to survive… April

  • Get outside. Even if you don’t feel like it try to make yourself go outside once or twice a week, even if you only get as far as the garden. You’ll be surprised what a difference it can make just making yourself do (and photograph) something different.
  • Get creative. Whilst you’re outside try to think about thing in a different way. Maybe go on a photo walk with a lens you don’t normally use and only take that lens with you. Have a theme; colours, buildings, portraits etc – why not get a family member or friend to decide the theme for you. This way your being pushed by an idea you didn’t come up with, and have to think a bit more about how you will meet it. There are loads of ideas about themes here if you need something to get you started.
  • Use your compact or phone. If you’re going out but don’t want to lug all your equipment around with you then go minimal. Most smart phones have decent cameras on them now. It is better to snap on a phone than not snap at all.
  • Will power. Don’t be afraid of posting up bad shots, it’s still a shot, better ones will come. Keep at it! This is where those relationships will be worth their weight in gold 🙂
  • Try something new at least once a week. There are more opportunities for experimentation when the weather gets better. Stopping in to try something new becomes a choice rather than something you had to do. Digital Photography School offers some creative ideas for each month.

April 2014

04-2014April 2013

April 2012

April 2011

April 2010

How to survive … February


Aaah February, despite being 28 I still have to think about it before I manage to spell it correctly.

I’m going to assume that if you are reading this then you completed January, so well done you! No really. 31 days of straight photographing is a big achievement… Just 11 more months like that one to go 😉

The Band Stand // 02 02 13

Positives of February

  • It’s a short month. It will be over before you know it!
  • It’s getting lighter. It’s not exactly summer but it’s a lot better than December.
  • There is a ‘holiday’. Love it or loath it (I hate it) there is Valentine’s Day to break up the month. Regardless of your opinion of it it will be everywhere so try to use it to your advantage, whatever your take on it is

Negatives of February

  • It’s still dark. Yes it’s getting lighter, but it isn’t properly light.
  • The weather. Will probably still be dodgy. And cold.
  • December seems like an awfully long way away. And it is. The optimism and enthusiasm of January will probably start to wear off throughout Feb (if they didn’t start to wear off in January!), so you’re going to be needing those goals to focus on and drive you forward.

In my dream smoke followed me // 10 02 13

How to Survive February

  • Maintain those relationships. This is where the novelty of the project starts to wear off and will power comes into play. It might not happen to you, but the chances are it’s happening to one of your fellow 365ers so make sure to keep up the comments, it might mean the difference between someone giving up and carrying on. You might need the same positive feedback later in the year.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Try to mix up what you are shooting a bit. Routines are good (very good in fact for helping you complete the year) but they can also make it easy for you to not experiment and the whole project get a bit stale. Try to shoot something which is not in your style, or shoot something which you wouldn’t normally. There are loads of different styles of photography out there, pick one and go for it.
  • Have a theme. A theme per week, or for the whole month. Keep it easy, or make it hard. Having a theme will make you start to think more about what you are going to shoot. You don’t have to shoot on theme every day,  but it will get your creative juices flowing trying to meet the theme at least once a week.
  • Come up with a list. One list. Many lists… Things you want to shoot outside, places you want to visit, styles or techniques you want to try. Doing this will help you to look forward to the months when the weather is better, and thus you are more likely to see the darker months through to the end to get to the ‘better’ ones.
  • It’s not a competition. I have seen people start to get a bit … bitter … about other people’s shots as the project progresses. Other peoples work will be different/better/worse than yours, but it’s not about that. This is a personal project. It is time consuming and you have a life. If you want to take better shots then dedicate more time to it. If you take a photo each day then you have ‘won’, let’s not put others down in the process, we’re all working to the same goal. It might make you feel better to leave a sarcastic or negative comment on someone else’s shot, but just think about how you would feel if the boot were on the other foot. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all! (Unless of course it’s constructive and they are OK with that, but that is a totally different ball park)

February 2014

February 2013

Tree Nymph // 21 02 13

February 2012
The Odd One Out // 24 02 12

February 2011
Sheffield Skyline (051 // 06 02 11)

February 2010
032 // 365

How to Survive … January

01-2015January is a good month; you’re motivated, you want to succeed, taking an image a day is going to be so easy!
You can totally get through to the end of the year, this is a total breeze!

Welcome to January.
As I posted in my ‘How to succeed at a Project 365’ post (here), it’s a good idea to have some targets and get yourself into a routine. Routines, in my experience, are a lot easier if you start out as you mean to go on. It becomes second nature from word go. Trying to get into a routine after is a lot harder.

So let’s start out properly!

Jellyfish Swirls // 08 01 13

Positives of January

  • You’re motivated. The whole photo a day idea is fresh and you want to succeed. It’s a novelty.
  • You’re relaxed. Most people will have just had a big holiday and had time with family. Usually there isn’t that much going on in January so there is plenty of time to grab those shots.

Negatives of January

  • It’s dark. Dark when you get up, dark when you get back in from work. It can be hard to think up shots, especially if you’re not used to snapping things in and around the house
  • The weather can be a bit hit and miss. This depends on where you live. I live in the UK and our weather is all over the place.

Uv Lights
How to Survive January

  • Join fellow 365ers and build up a support network. January is the best time to do this as everyone is eager and in good spirits about the whole thing. I would advise that you choose a few people to interact with regularly rather than trying to keep up with loads. As the year goes on it will seem like a chore at times (It really will, even with all the best intentions!), but it is more than worth it overall.
  • Get into good habits/routines. Take a ‘insurance’ shot early in the morning. Set an alarm in the evening to remind you to snap a better one.
  • Train your mind to take ‘mental’ shots of seemingly ordinary things. There are lots of different things you can shoot all around you, you are just so used to seeing them that you don’t even register them any more. I’m not suggesting shooting all of these things in January (you will need them later in the year!) but starting to think about ‘normal’ objects from a photography perspective is a good habit to get into.
  • Keep a record of your year. Depending on what your goals of the year are, it’s a good idea for some of your shots to remind you of events which happened throughout the year. Even if it’s not the best photo in the world if it has sentiment then it’s a good shot for you so don’t get rid of it, keep it and use it!
  • Go out. Chances are you wont see much light in January, so make the most of it when you can. Go out on your lunch break, go out for a walk at the weekend, snap what you see.
  • Make sure you start working towards your goal. Baby steps in the right direction mean that you are more likely to meet your goal in the long run. Read blogs or books and experiment.
  • Don’t fall into the trap of buying stuff. The first year I did a P365 I did it with a compact camera (admittedly I didn’t complete it, but I got as far as October and gave up because I deleted lots of pictures without having a record of them on the computer…), the second year I did it I did the entire year with a beginners SLR and the kit lenses which came with it. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you will put more effort in if you ‘just buy that lens’. You shouldn’t need to think like this. A project 365 is an achievement not an investment.
  • Don’t go overboard. This is a year long project. I would recommend that you go out of your way to photograph unusual stuff in the first month, then when the boredom sets in (which it more than likely will at some point!) or when you are ill you have some more mundane back up things to shoot around the house later in the year.

January 2014

January 2013
Tulip // 10 01 13

January 2012
Going Nutty // 03 01 12

January 2011
Knitted Patches (030 // 16 01 11)

January 2010
031 // 365

Want to share your previous Project 365 January shots or tips? Feel free to add them in the comments below.

Best of luck to everyone starting out (or carrying on) with a Project 365 in 2014 🙂
Feel free to add me on Flickr or Facebook as a starting point to building up your own support network!

How to complete a Project 365

I’m Sami. I’ve taken a photo each and every day since January 1st 2011. This means I have completed 4 Project 365s one straight after the other (Assuming I don’t mess up in the next couple of days!).

No cheating, no mess ups. A photo each and every day for 4 years.

If you are thinking about starting a Project 365 then here are some tips to get you going and make sure that you keep at it.

1. Want it

Taking a photo a day is a massive commitment, even if you are planning on doing it on your phone or tablet. It is inevitable that you will run out of time, or be ill, or almost forget at some point. One big thing that I think people don’t think about is why are you doing it? To improve your photography skills? To have a photographic record of one year of your life?
If you don’t really know why you are doing it then the chances are you wont complete it because something else will come up, or you will just get fed up of it.

I started my Project 365 because I wanted to learn how to use my SLR to take ‘proper’ photos.
Sheffield City Hall // 17 12 13

2. Have support

Even if they are not taking part in the project, friends or family who can take an interest and keep you on track is a fantastic idea. Even better is finding people online who you can share your photos with and build up a Project 365 friendship with. You can keep each other on track with motivation and kind words for the off days (weeks, months….).
If you write a small comment about what the picture is about then it helps people to maintain an interest in what you are shooting.

I used Flickr exclusively for a couple of years, and last year I started to put my best shots on Facebook for family to look at too. Each year on Flickr I’ve made new 365 friends and they are brill! 🙂

Autumnal glory // 03 11 14

3. Start early and keep it regular

Take a ’emergency’ shot first thing in the morning; build it into your morning routine. It can be of anything; toothpaste, toothbrush, the floor…. Once you have a shot in the bag it takes some of the pressure off (and yes you will feel the pressure if you are serious about completing it!) as all you have to do is take a better shot!
If you have a model or a toy or something keep it near your bed – worst case scenario is you end up with more shots than you should of that.
Maintain posting regularly. If you end up with a backlog of images to edit and post then you will keep putting it off!

I have a Danbo and a Domo for such occasions, as well as a box of odd bits which I can use when I can’t think of anything else. The biggest backlog I ever amassed was in 2011,  where I have November and December to sort out during the Christmas holidays!
Sunset // 23 10 13

4. Set an alarm

Chances are you don’t go anywhere without your phone. Which has an alarm function on it.
It might take you months, or even most of the year, to build taking a photo every day into your routine so why not set a musical reminder to keep you on track.

I had my alarm for 730 at night. That way there was still enough time to shoot something and relax before bed.
The Lighthouse // 24 08 13

5. Set goals

Even if it’s nothing more than to take a self portrait once a week. They don’t have to be elaborate, but if you set yourself small manageable goals which you can work towards then it gives you a sense of purpose. These will be especially useful when you’ve got a couple of months under your belt and you start to question why you thought this would be a good idea.

I had a goal for the year, and then I had a weekly theme. I had to take at least one photo per week on theme.
Having a theme also served as a good back up plan for when I couldn’t think of anything to snap.
The Poisoned Apple // 05 08 13

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself

You will have off days. Hell you might have whole months which are off, but you have a life (presumably) and taking a top notch photo every single day is just not going to happen. Accept that you will take lots of duds.

In 2011 the months October – December are just bad. Out of focus close ups of wool is a shot that specifically springs to mind.
Abandonment // 27 09 13

7. Keep a note

Of ideas, locations, people who don’t mind being snapped…. It will come in useful at some point so jot everything down and keep it on you. If you have a notes app on your phone then that would be a great place to keep it.

I’m a paper kind of girl so I have a note book.
When a book comes to life // 14 07 13

8. Carry a camera

There are tonnes of apps out there for image processing, so it doesn’t have to be an actual camera – the one on your phone will do. Just make sure that you always have something with you. After all the best camera is the one you have on you. Don’t miss out on a shot by not having something to snap it with.

I take my SLR most places with me, but I without fail always have my phone on me.
Out of Reach // 01 06 13

9. Keep a look out

Start to look at objects and locations in a different way. There are a lot of months in the year where it will be dark when you go to work and dark when you get home. There will be lots of things to photograph in your house, or at work which you wont notice because you look at them every day.

I have a fondness for buying cheap objects from the supermarket to snap.
Afternoon Tea // 11 04 13

10. Keep going

If you are ill you will want to give up.
If you are busy you will want to give up.
When it’s December and you are fed up of it being dark all the time and you having to come up with indoor shots you will want to give up.

Don’t give up. Use your support network and keep at it. This is a massive commitment, but it is so worth it.
Keep at it! A rubbish shot is better than no shot at all.

I gave up in 2010 and I regretted it. I started again on Dec 18th 2010 because I was so determined that I would complete it in 2011.

Winter Berries // 28 12 13

11. Be creative

It’s easy to fall into the trap of just taking a photo for the sake of taking a photo so that you complete the project. Doing this some of the time is fine (and unavoidable) but if you don’t keep pushing yourself then you will become bored with the project. Try new styles, photograph new things, try photographing  with just one lens for a whole week, heck go for a month! Trying new things is key to stopping this project going stale. See this page for some suggestions on things to shoot if you are stuck. Even if it doesn’t work out you can say you’ve tried something new… Even if you never try it again 😉

I have a list of things I want to try out. I usually come up with the list towards the start of the year and then add to it as I come up with new ideas. 

Little Jellyfish // 16 12 14

Because I am mad I’m going again in 2015, so feel free to follow me on here or any of the other social places… Flickr, Facebook.
Got your own tips? Add them below! 🙂