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All 366 images taken during my photo project in 2012
(Click to enlarge)

I love babies and (most) kids and for some crazy reason I like to earn a living by chasing them around with a camera, capturing natural photos of them and selling them to their parents. Newborn babies are my favourite subjects as they don’t get about so much and because they are without exception extremely cute.

In 2011, however, I started to feel the desire to photograph something in addition to little people. I looked back fondly to my days as a mature photography student, when I worked on projects that made me explore different photography techniques, use various forms of lighting, photograph everyday mundane objects and create striking images. For an assignment called “Silhouettes” I even photographed a Barbie doll being chased down a dark corridor by a wooden mannequin!

During yet another evening of browsing online photography forums I came across the concept of taking and posting a photograph a day for a year. I was immediately hooked and 1st January 2012 I began my 366 project with a shot of empty bottles from our New Year’s Eve party. I posted the image on my Facebook page for Picture It Big and on a website called The 365 Project (www.365project.org). As each day went by I got more support and comments on my images and was spurred on to keep posting. I even felt as if I would be letting people down if I didn’t. This played a big part in ensuring that I stuck at it for the whole year. 14th December 2012 was my only major fail when I completely forgot to take a shot and uploaded a picture of our calendar with a big red “F” for fail scribbled on it.

A friend presenting my photo book at a networking event

I’ve just got round to completing a photo book containing all the images, a truly rewarding task seeing all my hard work presented over 98 pages. It struck me again how much I gained from this year long project and I want to share with fellow photography enthusiasts seven reasons  why they should take up some sort of photography project or challenge.

1. Get out of a rut 

If you feel like you are shooting the same old stuff all the time and not feeling very creative, then an exciting and challenging project is just what you need to make you feel a renewed enthusiasm and creativity. Before long I was digging lenses out of my camera bag that I hadn’t used for months or even years. I had been shooting kids on the Av setting for years and it was fun to start using Tv and experiment with  long exposures to blur movement or to capture the sky at night. I started to use different effects in Photoshop – selective colour, filters. I played around with still life on different backgrounds, reflective surfaces, using natural light, reflectors and continuous light. I tackled street photography and photographing strangers – way out of my comfort zone. Some days I used a DSLR, other days all I had was my camera phone or a compact. Some of my favourite images were with my phone where you are forced to work really hard getting the composition right.

2. Improve your photographic skills

I am amazed at how much my photography improved over the course of the year and what I had learned. It’s easy to stick to what you know especially when you are working to deadlines but but we can all learn new stuff if we put our minds to it. I started to shoot on Manual for the 365 project and before long I was doing it during all my professional shoots too. I learned how useful Live View is in making sure your focusing is spot on.

3. Train your eye to see images everywhere

At the risk of sounding like a geek I was getting out of bed in the morning already thinking about what that day’s image would be. I’d turn my breakfast plate around wondering how to capture bacon in an interesting way or stare at ripples in puddles as I walked the dog. You can find a creative shot anywhere when you put your mind to it.

4. “Meet” like-minded people

I’ve already said that without the support of people on Facebook and The 365 Project I would probably have given up, missed days out. It was so rewarding and motivating to get comments from people in countries on the over side of the world and to see their images, which opened a window on their worlds – exotic flowers and birds, different cultures, amazing scenery. People’s pictures and their commentary could be quite personal and revealing about their lives, as we often use our cameras to mark significant life events. During 2012 we lost my husband’s mum and then our boxer dog died of cancer a few months later and we received a great deal of support from the online forums.

5. Create a visual record of a period in your life

What I didn’t expect out of the project was to get such a great visual diary of a year in our lives. Inevitably I took pictures of the everyday, the mundane as well as celebrations, holidays and special occasions. I never tire of browsing through the images, seeing the seasons change, remembering what we doing and where we were when I took the picture. It was a good year for Britain with the Golden Jubilee and the Olympics and this is reflected with a shot of the Olympic Torch in our local town and lots of union flags in other shots.

If you’d like to see the photobook I created and had printed click on the link.

http://www.bobbooks.co.uk/bookshop/366-days-through-my-lens

I hope you are inspired to start your own project. It doesn’t have to be for a year and it could be on a particular subject. I’ve recently been doing 50 days with a 50mm lens (not quite so successfully!). I also bought a book called “Photocrafty: 75 creative camera projects for you and your digital SLR” by Sue Venables and there’s definitely some inspiration in there.

By Jane Burkinshaw. Share this post by clicking on one of the Share buttons on the right hand side. I’d love to hear your comments too!

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