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 😉
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.
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)
January 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!
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.
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.
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!