If you’re looking for a little creative stability this new year, why not try taking a picture a day? The ideal activity for personal – and technical – growth, and a surprisingly welcome task to schedule during lockdown.
It may seem daunting, the idea of taking a photo every single day, but it’s such a fabulously simple way to grow as a photographer and an often-wonderful way of being able to look back at a visual diary of the year. I’ve dabbled in 365 projects since my first in 2013, and when I look back at the images, I can see the creative progress I’ve made over the years. When 2019 rolled over into 2020 I felt compelled to start again after a few years break, and so I embarked on my seventh project; which would go on to see me capturing each of the 366 days of one of the most memorable years in history. Through all the uncertainty, change, restriction, and madness, the project gave me a focus – and a little box-ticking exercise that I could achieve each day, and so for this new year, it seemed only right to continue shooting and sharing each day. Here are just a few ideas to hopefully inspire, and if you want to join me, use the hashtag #Olympus365Project on Instagram, or follow my journey here.
If you haven’t already started, there’s still time. Don’t worry about it not being the first of January; it’s your project, start it whenever you want! If you feel once a day is too much, how about once a week, fortnight, or even month? For me, I use my 365 as a photo journal, and I shoot my environment and life around me; which means lots of food, my dog, countryside walks and nature, flowers, and a few people-pictures. Have a think about what you might like to take pictures of, or if you want a theme. One year, I shot two projects consecutively; one self-portrait, and one for portraits of my dog! You could stick to your genre and make it all landscapes, or only people-pictures, or you could try something totally different. I tend to give the day a chance to present an image idea to me, but I’ll always have a few setups I can go to if the universe doesn’t deliver the goods.
As it’s winter – and particularly while we’re on lockdown – you’ll likely find yourself with lots of time indoors, so it’s worth thinking about some shots to have fun with that can be done quite literally in the comfort of your own home. Light painting is an exciting way of creating some abstract pictures, and the options are endless. Different light sources like coloured gels over a torch, fairy lights, LEDs on gadgets – anything emitting light will do, then simply darken your room – or go in your garden at night if you have one – set up your camera on a tripod or sturdy surface and stop down past Bulb, to Live Time, this way you’ll be able to see the exposure happening right before your eyes. Remember you can still use the timer here, or use your phone as a remote with the OI.Share app.
Here in the UK, we’re used to a lot of rain, so rather than letting it dampen your spirits when you see the sky open, use it to your advantage instead. While the wet stuff is falling, look to shoot droplets through your window or from your parked car, incorporating street lights, or if it’s settled into puddles search for pleasing reflections, and get down low using the articulated screen on your OM-D or PEN to get a rat’s eye view.
If you often shoot in colour, why not set yourself the challenge of shooting exclusively in black and white for a week? Activate the Super Control Panel menu by clicking OK, and scroll across to Picture Mode, choosing Monochrome, or Grainy Film. You can even create your own hue using Colour Creator on your OM-D. Select the mode, then use the dials to add or take away colours. When shooting in B&W try to be even more aware of how the light falls, and look for shadows to add narrative to your shots.
A bit of an eye-spy activity, keep a lookout for numbers that correspond to the day you’re shooting on. Door numbers are pretty easy, and you might want to reserve them for if and when you’re really stuck for ideas, but you may find some unusual and interesting numerical pictures to be had in nature, or cityscape adventures. Using a macro lens, or getting in close with a wide aperture will help pull focus on a specific area of your frame, and create a pleasing image.
Time for tea
Mealtimes happen every day, meaning you’ve got (probably) three opportunities to create shots from your sustenance. If you’ve made a delicious dinner, baked something beautiful, or grown something great – capture it! Natural light is arguably the most flattering for food pictures, so grab your plate and position it near a window, playing around with where the light hits in order to highlight certain areas, or add gloss.
Need for nature
Mother nature is an absolute queen for providing us with such rich photographic material, and it only takes a short walk to fill your memory card with options. As you’ll be shooting all year (hopefully!) take note of how the seasons change a landscape and consider reshooting favourite spots as they change. Look for the first shoots of spring, and the colour change that autumn brings, and don’t forget to make friends with any friendly creatures you might find along the way, too! When shooting in nature I love taking the M.Zuiko 60mm F2.8 Macro in my bag to capture the delicate details too, like flowers and water droplets, as well as the larger expanses of land around me.
Don’t rule out the art of the selfie in your project! Keep an eye out for interesting reflective surfaces and mirrors, and capture yourself in the frame with your camera, or make use of your OM-D or PEN’s in-built Wi-Fi and the OI.Share app and enjoy the freedom to capture more in your shots without the need for a second pair of hands. And talking of hands, if you want them free of camera-holding and to include in your composition, you’ll want to consider setting up on a tripod, and using the self-timer mode to give you time to strike that pose.
If you’re lucky enough to have a pet at home, make them your muse and see if you can capture some precious moments. I adore taking pictures of my dog Roxy, and love to try and capture the essence of her personality. She’s great at posing for pictures too, but some of my favourites are the candid moments where she’s being cheeky or cute and doesn’t always know I’m there with my camera. Using the silent shutter mode on your OM-D makes it even easier to get sneaky shots, and is great for snapping pictures of wildlife, too. Think outside the box and try macro shots of paw pads, a close up of a nose, or a sunset silhouette on your walk. For more pet pics ideas, see my other blog here.