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Inspiration

An Invitation: My 365 Attempts Project and Why You Should Do One Too

· 9.March.2019

One photograph a day, every day, for a year; that is the goal. But what is the point? I had lost my creative spark and passion for photography and was seeking to rekindle it. Each day became an attempt at finding what I had once found – fulfilment, meaning, pleasure, and purpose with my photography. Photography had been my vehicle for self-expression and a tool for capturing the beautiful places, amazing people, and wonderful events I was blessed enough to experience. And thus my 365 project was begun: “365 Attempts at Finding What I Had Once Found.” The following is a write-up describing my experience taking and posting online one photograph a day for the duration of 2018, but it is also an invitation. If you are new to photography and want to learn, do a 365 project. If you are adept but want to grow artistically and develop your own style, do a 365 project. If you are a professional photographer and think you take enough pictures each day, thank you very much, do a 365 project. Tomash, do a 365 project! Everyone, I urge you to consider this undertaking. Arm yourselves with your photographic instrument of choice, bring it with you along the hills and valleys of the next twelve months, and document the wonders of your world for others to see. This was my journey; I wonder what yours will be like.

As a steadfast Fujifilm photographer, the vast majority of my project was captured with an X-Pro2, with a few other cameras represented, mainly the X100F and X100S. It was important to me that I didn’t use my cell-phone; I wanted to use a camera consistently. Starting the project was a rather strange thing. It was hard to get into a rhythm. I had to make artistic photography a part of each day, something that previously I had not done. As a professional photographer, the repetitive nature of some events and the utilisation of heavy equipment had begun to squelch my creative passion. I love photography, but it hadn’t been something I experienced daily in my personal life for some time. It was almost like I had been storing it in a secure box, and I would take it out and utilise it for a time before safely returning it back. This project called me to infuse photography into my life more fully once again. I did not always do this successfully, or even consistently for that matter, but oftentimes I tried. I started taking my camera with me to more places, hanging out with friends or visiting family, with the thought in the back of my mind, I need a photo of the day. Over time, day by day, this became a repeated behaviour and ultimately a habit.

Although I was engrossed in this project, I didn’t stop being a photographer. There were days when I would go on a trip or hike somewhere beautiful with my camera. Those days I would snap plenty of photographs, load them up on to my computer and have a plethora of choices that day. On the other side of that coin, however, there were days in which photography simply was not a part of my experience. There were times when I was sick or busy, rushing here and there, or else so fixated on a task that remembering to take a photograph was hardly at the top of my list. At first these days bothered me. But in hindsight, I see now that those days weren’t awful things to be avoided; they were essential to the very center of my task. I learned about consistency. Image quality is nice, but for me, the 365 project is about making an effort, about trying. Once or twice, I missed a day, but I didn’t quit. I kept going, and I’m glad I did. There are images in the project that are nothing special, and yet I am still proud of them. There were late nights where I would suddenly remember that I had yet to take a photograph. Those nights my commitment to this project was tested. Sticking to the goal and being bothered to take a photograph ended up helping me grow as a photographer. I learned artistic discipline and it helped me feel pride in my project.

Over the course of three hundred and sixty five days, there is ample opportunity for practice. How do you get better at something? Practice, practice, practice, and that is what I did. I found myself going through different patterns and phases, especially with my gear. Sometimes, I would use a lens for an extended period of time before moving on to a different one, and thus, my images had a consistent look for a stretch in the aggregate. I learned how to see with my lenses. I used the Mitakon 35mm f/0.95 and the Fujifilm 16mm f/1.4 a great deal. Those are two phenomenal lenses that I highly recommend. I learned what those lenses could do well and I focused on utilising their strengths to make the best images I could. The Fuji 16mm takes excellent landscape images, but also is tremendous for a rather unique type of macrophotography. The Mitakon’s bokeh at f/.95 is special and casts a dreamy haze upon the out of focus areas. I enjoyed the repetition in the project. The constant practice pushed me to learn my gear better and in turn take better photographs.

There are no doubt filler images in the final body of work, but as I have said, even they added value. What is truly special, however, are the images created within the scope of the 365 project that ascended beyond its bounds to soar amongst greater heights. There are images of family members that started as photos of the day, and evolved into treasured memories. There are images that were posted on my blog as just another daily attempt in the project, that ultimately were uploaded to my portfolio website as well. I enjoyed the fact that during the year I completed this project, I captured many photographs that truly make me feel proud.

This is an invitation to anyone who is reading this article. I urge you to consider partaking in your own 365 project. Every FujiLove reader can undertake this project, and yet all of our end results would be different. I set out to rekindle my creative spark and passion for photography, and the project was a success. The daily practice was enriching and helped me grow as a photographer. The consistent use of my camera and lenses helped me develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for them, and I now know how to use them much better than I did a year ago. I got into the habit of taking my camera with me to more places and I added many images to my portfolio, even creating a few that are loved by people close to me. Capturing and posting an image a day, regardless of what else was going on in my life, helped me foster a stronger sense of photographic discipline. These were some of the takeaways I had after completing my first 365 project. I invite each of you to consider doing one yourself. You never know what you might discover!