There are many different reasons to force yourself to take a photo every day; you may want to get better acquainted with your gear, you may want to break out of any shell in which you have found yourself, you may want to develop your work flow, or a number of other reasons. The bottom line though is that you seek to improve yourself.
I can think of reasons that professionals may want to do a photo a day (even if they are taking photos everyday in the course of the jobs) and I can think of reasons an amateur may want to do a photo a day. In my case, the first time around I wanted to improve myself generally.
Now this second time around because I’ve noticed that the more photos you take, the more good photos you have at the end. Logical, you may say. Yet it is a concept you do not necessarily grasp until you viscerally experience it.
I did a photo a day project in 2010. At the end of it I had a hard time limiting myself to a Top 25, having to chose from some 20,799 photos. In 2011 I had a tougher time finding as many as 25 for a Top 25 because I took only 4,545.
In 2010 I wanted to improve myself generally, this year I’ve started another photo a day project because I want to refine my tastes overall and also force myself to again explore some genres (like street photography or street portraits) that I neglected in 2011.
I believe I am now reasonably technically proficient thanks to my photographic activities in 2010, but I want also to again experience that phenomenal growth that I experienced in 2010. I know that is not likely, but some part of it may be.
This year I am shooting with my faithful Pentax K7, a Canon S95 and my cellphone camera. I’ve already gotten past the unreasoned fear I used to have that I might get an inferior photo, simply because I am using a less capable camera. If you were to check my current 365 gallery you will see that there is a reasonable mix of images from each camera.
One thing I’ve noticed in the 59 days (one side benefit of the photo a day project is that you gain strong familiarity with which day of the year you happen to be in 🙂 ) I’ve been doing this is the relative ease with which I have been getting decent photographs. It is not unusual for me to go several days with top class (for me) photos. This is surely the end result of my familiarity with camera, composition and processing. In no small measure my ability to process my images to show what I really want to show has grown significantly, again, as a result of the pressure of having to process sometimes dozens of images in 2010.
The point I really wish to make with this post, however, is that it has become very clear to me that I cannot ease the work that I put into that daily photo. The challenge to me this year is not just finding something to photograph each day (a task which has gotten a bit easier) but ensuring I put as much effort as possible into making that photo a good one. I have seen examples of people doing the photo a day project, who aimlessly point their cameras in any handy direction when they realize the day is coming to an end, and they have no photo as yet.
This is little better than not taking on the project at all. This observation occurred to me on day 42 as I swept my driveway in the hot midday sun, then got a step ladder, balanced precariously at the top to get the photo below. Its not great art, but I am satisfied that I put the work into it to get an adequate photo. Had I not done so, I would have ended up with a mediocre shot which might not have conveyed what I wanted.
The bottom line is, if you are not prepared to put some effort into it, you are just wasting time. Getting better at anything requires commitment. Don’t waste the time if you are not prepared to make the effort.
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