I’ve thought a lot lately about where I want to take my photography in 2017, especially in light of my recent post on making a living from your creativity and the potential pitfalls of doing so.
At the beginning of this year, I committed to doing a 365 project, i.e., taking a photo every single day and posting it online. While I’ve been haphazard about when and where I post the photos I’ve taken, I’ve managed to take a photo every day but one this year. Doing this was really helpful for me, and not just in terms of making me a better photographer. The experience reminded me that I could stick to a regular discipline over a sustained period of time.
However, I think there are clear reasons why even those who complete a 365 challenge seldom do it more than once. The comments in this post on Digital Photography School raise some of the issues that I ran into and, to be fair, include some ways of getting around those issues.
The main argument in favor of projects like this is that they can build positive habits. Studies have shown if you want to improve at a skill, it’s better to do it for a little bit every day than longer intervals done less frequently.
On the other hand, you have to be careful that you don’t fall into a rut and are just, for example, taking photos every day because you feel you have to. With that mentality, it can turn into a chore rather than something you do because you enjoy it. And at that point, the effort you’re putting in probably isn’t helping to improve your skill much, if at all.
So while I’m glad I’ve done a 365 project and will see it out for the few days left in the year, I’m going to do things differently in 2017. I’m going to slow down and do things a bit more purposefully. There’s a good chance this means a return to the darkroom and shooting more film than I was able to do this year.
To that end, I’ve been inspired by Ted Forbes at The Art of Photography, one of my favorite YouTube channels about photography (and he works about an hour away from me!). Forbes says that regular assignments helped him hone his craft as a budding photographer, so he’s posting assignments to his YouTube channel and encouraging people to:
- Post their photos online. Forbes recommends Tumblr, but anywhere you want to post them is fine.
- Print their photos and post them in a book where they can write notes.
I’ve set up a Tumblr page to store my work on these assignments. As of this writing, there’s only a welcome post, but the first images should be posted later today. I’ll save the details of the project and this particular assignment for the Tumblr page, so check that out if you want to know more.
Have you ever had to slow down to improve your craft at something? Share your experiences in the comments!