What Is A 365 Project?

A 365 Project sounds simple enough: take one photo a day, every day, for an entire year. As a professional photographer I lurk on many Facebook forums and stalk Instagram accounts that post gorgeous 365 images depicting lives of beautiful, obedient children dressed in their boho or farmhouse best doing things like collecting eggs in perfect golden sunlight.

This is not my life.

My life is messy. My house is messy. My calendar, the hard drive I keep my photos on, my refrigerator, and my children are messy, messy, messy. And I'm not allowed chickens per our HOA and my husband.

There are no real rules to a 365 (other than the obvious one photo a day thing). You can start it any day of the year, your photos can be of anything you want, and you can use whatever camera you have handy. I have tried a 365 for the past 4 years and never made it past March. Looking back, I think the lack of guidelines is actually part of the problem. Too many choices=brain freeze (can you relate?). So I'm giving myself a road map for the year.

The Plan

These rules are my own-if you want to attempt your own 365 (and I hope you do, whether you are a professional photographer or just a mom with a camera on her phone) I suggest you make your own rules for those days when you feel uninspired (or it's 10 pm and you forgot to take a photo).

  1. Have your camera and lens readily available and visible. I have an office on the second floor of our home where I keep all my equipment, but I'm keeping my camera and 35mm lens on the first floor so that I can easily grab it. My goal is to take every photo with my "big girl" camera, but if a moment comes and all I have is my cell phone then that's ok too!
  2. What story do you want to tell? I like to take photos of a lot of things, but I want to do a 365 because I love seeing the changes my children go through over a year. So my focus this year is really going to be about my family and my kids. Other ideas could be photos of activities you enjoy (for example, I love sewing, so I could take photos of sewing projects every day) or self-portraits or even something as simple as the sunset. On the days when I am feeling uninspired, having a story to focus on will help point my lens in the right direction!
  3. The goal is one photo, not perfection. One of the best tips I read was to not expect a frame-worthy photo every single day. This is definitely where I struggled most in the past. I was trying to make every photo a masterpiece and it became a source of stress instead of joy and discovery. In this blog post, a seasoned 365-er talks about how she had about 20 printable photos at the end of the year, but seeing all 365 pictures together was more impressive and memorable than any one of those "good" photos. This rule also encompasses my editing process. I'm only giving myself 5 minutes MAX to edit a photo unless it's a special occasion. I could easily spend hours on each photo removing imperfections, adjusting color, etc. My images will be mostly SOOC with basic edits. If I make it all the way, I plan on printing a collage of all 365 photos together to display in our home!
  4. Post your photos to help you stay accountable. I will be posting my 365 images from the previous week every Friday on Instagram and Facebook (click the links to follow me there!). If you aren't a big social media user, there are apps available to help you organize and keep track of your photos (this will be especially useful if you are attempting a 365 on your smartphone).
  5. Give yourself grace. It is entirely possible and probable that I will miss a day. I'll forget, or someone will be sick, or we'll be traveling or whatever the case may be. And when this inevitably happens, I will be telling myself IT'S OK IT'S OK IT'S OK. I know it will feel like putting together a 1000 piece puzzle only to discover that you are missing a piece...but it's not the end of the world. 364, 363, even 350 out of 365 days will be a huge accomplishment and cool memory. So for my fellow completionists out there, repeat after me: IT'S OK IT'S OK IT'S OK...

January 1-7

Now the fun part: the pictures! This year was easy to start a 365 because we had a special Christmas gift for our boys: a trip to Super Nintendo World in CA. Of course my camera was with me at all times, so Week 1 was a no brainer. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram to see weekly updates, and I'll be following up here on the blog quarterly to update you on my progress, what I've learned, and show you my favorite photos!

Day 1: Gabriel's dwarf hamster, Mory, escaped from his cage the day before we left for California. My husband, AKA Superman, rigged up some homemade hamster traps with gatorade bottles, peanut butter, and boxes with ramps. The idea was that Mory would try to get on the bottle to lick the peanut butter and fall into the box. It was a great idea...but ultimately a live mouse trap caught him (THANK GOD) and he was safely back in his cage before we flew out the next day.

Day 2: Telling the kids we're flying First Class to CA

Day 3: Entering Super Nintendo World

Day 4: Hole in One!

Day 5: Yoshi making magic in Harry Potter World

Day 6: My boys chilling and playing Fortnite

Day 7: Gabe won a stuffed unicorn as big as he is and we had to buy a whole new suitcase to get it home. #worthit IT'S SO FLUFFY!!!