Want To Be A Better Photographer? Do a 365 Project

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I've been into tech stuff and art since I was very young.  I took a few photography classes before I went to college and really thought it was great.  In college I took some photo classes a did a little work in the dark room.  It was ok but for some reason I really didn't like the idea of developing film and strayed a bit from photography.  Fast forward a few years and all of a sudden digital cameras are coming on strong, are getting better in quality, and are finally somewhat affordable.  Marrying technology and art, my new obsession with photo had begun and it has not stopped.  

Fast forward a few more years.  I had been playing around with dinky point and shoot cameras for a while when I finally decided to get a DSLR (I got a Canon 60D).  I was in heaven.  This brand new camera that took amazing pictures that also takes video and has a ton of options and knobs to tweak.  I knew the new camera would help me become a better photographer but that there was still plenty to learn.  After doing some reading, I decided that the best way for me to learn about my new camera, learn how to edit photos better, and get a feel for myself as a photographer would be to do a 365 project. 

In case you aren't familiar in a 365 project, the idea is that you take at least one picture a day for an entire year straight.  Sounds easy enough but this is a tough undertaking but it will help you grow as a photographer in ways you couldn't imagine.  Here is the very first picture I took for my 365 project.

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Did I take a picture every single day for a year straight? Nope. No way. But I came close.  There were points in time during that year that the last thing I wanted to do was take a picture.  There were points in time during that year where going to take a photo took my mind off of things.  Either way I learned a lot about photography and what I wanted out of it.  And I learned how I preferred to use my camera.  

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Here are the main reasons I feel this is one of the best ways to become a better photographer:

  • It forces you to try new things - In the first few weeks of the project I naturally started taking photos of things in and near my apartment, but you use those things up quickly.  A 365 project forces you to go to new places and look at things differently to get a different shot.  

  • It requires you to learn your camera - Taking a picture a day seems easy but it really isn't.  Finding the time to do it is tough and your conditions will vary.  This requires you to play around with your camera to get the desired shot for the conditions of the scene.

  • Editing!  I learned that at least for me, editing is a huge part of the way I do photography.  During my 365, I learned the software I prefer to use (Lightroom) and I learned the look that I prefer and how I can achieve it, both in my camera settings and my edits on the computer after

  • It helps you explore - This is similar to my first point on the list but I have to say I have found some really cool places both in my city of Boston and throughout the country and other parts of the world, just because I wanted to find a new spot to snap a photo.  There is something to be said for this.  There are lots of places I am happy to have visited and know about just because I went exploring for the purpose of photography.  

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In closing, I want to reiterate that this wasn't an easy thing for me but I grew as a not only a photographer, but a person because of it.  It is certainly a challenge but it is one of the best ways to explore and become better at photography as well as get to know your equipment.  If you have a few minutes, take a glance at my entire 365 project on Flickr.