One of my 2017 resolutions was to complete a Photo 365, a photography challenge where you take one photograph every day for an entire year. It sounds easy enough. Thanks to smartphones, everyone has a camera with them at all times these days and we snap away, taking pictures of friends, cats, and food like there was no tomorrow. So a photo a day should be simple, right?
Well, no. When you’re a photographer committing to a Photo 365, you commit to making photographs with intention. You’re looking at composition, light and shadow, and tone. It takes time and thought, and there are some days when I had neither time nor energy for either of those things. And yet, I carried on because I made a promise to myself to see it through.
Granted, there were some days where it was closing in on 11:00 pm and I hadn’t gotten a shot in, so I would grab a knick-knack from the shelf, snap a few pictures, and call it good. I ended the year with some fantastic shots that I’m proud of and some that I’d throw away if they weren’t part of the whole project. But that’s to be expected. Even National Geographic photographers take bad photographs now and then.
But the point of the Photo 365 is not necessarily to achieve your best work ever. It’s to get you into the habit of practicing the craft every day. Many people assume that creativity is a thing that strikes out of the blue, like unexpected lighting, but it’s not. Creativity is a skill that must be practiced like any other. If left alone, waiting for mood or inspiration, it will slowly fade away. We marvel at the creativity of children and wonder why we don’t have it as adults. But the fact is, we often forget to practice and so lose the skill.
Unlike an unpracticed language or musical skill, though, creativity will come back with a little effort and some daily practice. Just think of creativity like a puppy following behind you. Show it a little love, and it will give that love back to you tenfold.
I had initially planned to pick my ten favorite photographs from my Photo 365, but I couldn’t narrow it down to just ten, so here are my favorite fifteen:
I’ve developed a lot of good working habits this year, but the most important thing I’ve learned is that you can find a beautiful subject anywhere. Starting in November, I started a series of leaf photographs. This was prompted by the fewer hours of daylight and the fact that I was spending more time at work. I would take a few spare minutes and head out to the sections of landscaping that border the parking lot and look for attractive leaves, most of which had withered but were still clinging to the bushes. I got a lot of strange looks from passersby, but I found beauty in a parking lot and ended up with a series of photographs I’m proud of.