BY Daisy Dickinson
Whether you’re just starting out, or are a well-seasoned photographer, a 365 – or photo a day – challenge is a brilliant way to really connect with picture-taking and improve your skills and creative outlook along the way.
I first took on this challenge in 2013 and looking back at the shots, it’s wonderful to see just how far my personal growth with photography has come. I’ve dabbled on and off over the years, and have probably completed (or nearly completed!) around nine years’ worth of pictures, so over 3,200 photos are dedicated to this project alone. Little did I know that at the start of 2020 when I decided once again to pick up the 365 baton, that I’d be documenting every day of my life during the Covid-19 pandemic. To this end, I continued into 2021, and am also taking on the challenge once again for this New Year, 2022.
At a time when life was so uncertain, and my routine was thrown into disarray, as well as then having so much time at home, taking a photo every day became my new routine, and provided a positive creative outlet; somewhere to focus my imagination and make progress that was measurable – and more importantly, have fun! As we move into another new year and many of us are still facing restrictions on travel and socialisation, it’s the perfect time to take on this challenge and get acquainted with your local area, and all the picture-taking opportunities to be had!
Where to start?
This is your challenge, so make it work for you! You could decide to undertake a photo per day, per week, or fortnight – whatever works for you, and you certainly don’t have to start on the 1 January, you can kick things off any day of the year – perhaps from your birthday or another memorable day of the year. I use my 365 project as a visual diary and document my life around me as I see it, but you could decide to concentrate on your favourite subject, like birds or wildlife, or pick a loose theme like nature, or adventure. You may decide to shoot and upload every day, or just shoot and then upload once a week. I host my project on Instagram, and use a dedicated hashtag to organise my pictures, but there are apps and websites specifically for the task, too.
It’s great when the sun is shining, you’ve planned a day of picture-taking, and have plenty of options for that day, but there will definitely be times where you’re feeling less inspired and it can feel harder to nab a good photo. Perhaps it’s raining, and cold and you don’t fancy going outside – be prepared to turn this to your advantage! Get your macro lens on, and head to your garden or local park and look for raindrops on leaves, or reflections in puddles. On days when I’m not feeling it, I head to my garden and explore tiny details with my M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro and am often amazed at what I can find!
Take a walk
Going for a walk with your camera is more often than not going to reward you with excellent picture-taking possibilities, and something I’m always thankful for when out hiking is how lightweight my kit is! I’ll tend to pack an OM-D E-M10 Mark IV, with M.Zuiko 25mm F1.2, and M.Zuiko 60mm Macro, spare battery, and I’m ready! I always make sure I have a camera on me wherever I go, as you never really know when a great photo might present itself, and as my goal is to take one a day, I certainly don’t want to miss any opportunities! If you’re pout walking, consider looking outside the box and hunting for details in your scene like the colour of leaves through the seasons, as well as those wider shots, too.
If inspiration is dwindling, give yourself some mini-challenges or themes within your project. You could try shooting one colour all week, like yellow, or purple, and look for these tones in nature and around you. Have a go at shooting in black and white and see how it changes your view, or why not capture for a week only using your macro lens, or a prime lens, and take the time to practice your focusing skills? Think about different times of day to shoot, and how the lighting can make your pictures appear different in the exact same setting. I love the look of the golden hour in nature, and seeing flowers and grasses backlit, using a wide aperture like F1.2 to get some beautiful bokeh. Consider your composition and changing your angle, getting down low and shooting up, or shooting from a birds-eye view to add interest to your shots, too.
It can be great fun finding other photographers taking on the challenge, to share your experiences with and keep accountable, too! The most important thing, though, is to enjoy yourself!