When I sat down to design our family’s annual Christmas card, I realized there were certain months where I had hardly any photos. Like none. Yeah, I had lots of vacations and ‘big’ moments. But, I feel like that’s not where life is really lived. It’s in the day to day, everyday stuff. Choosing to cultivate gratitude in those in between moments is really where it’s at. And I was sad I missed so much of that. Not only for me, but to show my kids (through what I choose to prioritize as an important photograph) the importance of this daily gift. So, without over analyzing and thinking it through too much, I started. Now, after completing a full year, and into my second, I wish I would have started sooner. If you’re even slightly thinking you might like to give this a try, do it. Don’t think about it. Just start.
To help you out, I’ve put together 10 ways to simplify your 365 project.
1. Keep your camera close. Okay, this is probably a no brainer, and I hope you keep reading the list even if you think “this is what you call a tip?!” It’s seriously one the most overwhelming things for people I talk to. The thought of picking up the camera every day. The ‘one more thing to add to my list’ thought. It doesn’t have to be that complicated. You can do this on any camera you wish. From your iPhone, to a point and shoot, to your DSLR. I’ve chosen to do mine with my Canon Mark III, but that’s only because I don’t find it a burden. I keep it on my counter. And yes, carry it with me most of the time. And have people comment, “I didn’t even know they still made cameras like that!”. For real. I’m that mom. Once I have spent my couple of minutes capturing something I’m grateful for, I put it away and that’s it.
2. Start with the end in mind. What do you want at the end of the year? Please don’t let them sit on your hard drive — have a plan. A family book? A book of each child? Just try to take a few minutes to reflect on what would mean the most to you to have in your hands. This will help determine what and how you shoot. Sort of a little reverse engineering, if you will. It can help you make less decisions on a daily basis if you have some parameters in place. And less decisions on a daily basis are always better.
3. Just do it. Don’t over-think it. Don’t be stuck in decision or perfection paralysis. Take it day by day. Start today. Start at the beginning of next month. Don’t worry about perfect. Done is better than that. Which leads me to …
4. So it’s a 332. Is it really a big deal if you missed a day or two? No. It’s the collective. Whether you have a perfect record or miss a few days (or 50), you and your family won’t care a year (or 20) from now. Mine wasn’t perfect. I would miss one, two or even three days in a row here and there. Sometimes I would fill them in with additional photos from others days and sometimes I wouldn’t. Again, I just let it go and reminded myself that at the end of the project, I would be grateful with however many photos I ended up with.
5. What’s really important. That this is a gift. To you. This is your gratitude journal. Your way of showing the world what shines the brightest in your eyes.
6. The power of one photo. … that translates into very little of your time each day. I once heard a speaker at a conference talk about the power of one photo — how one photo can not only take you back to a moment, but a whole day. And it’s so true. Try it.
7. Have a system. Mine isn’t perfect, but here’s a rough rundown:
* I usually keep my card in my camera for the week and download once a week. I knew going in that I am not one to sit down daily to download, edit, organize photos. Once a week seemed manageable.
* I use photo mechanic to download and save to folders on my computer. (Example: 2015_365>januaryraw>filedate of download)
* I quickly cull in photo mechanic and bring into Lightroom while renaming to the date captured.
* Complete my quick edits. (I use RedLeaf presets, which are so wonderful, they make this part super fast.)
* Export to a new folder. (Example: 2015_365>januaryedit)
8. You don’t have to share. I shared my images last year, but haven’t this year. I am sure at some point I will here and there, but I felt like I needed a bit of a break from that. I didn’t share everyday either, opting to group them into groups of six. I quite often shared the whole month at once.
iPhone: If you decide to take your 365 on your iPhone artifact uprising has a great app to download directly to a photo book.
Blurb books: They have great books, and build-your-own templates.
10. What to do with it all. As 2014 was my first year doing a 365, I’m still thinking about how I want to design a large book for myself. 365 pages would be rather HUGE. However, I ordered small 7×7 books – 2 of them. One for each of my boys. I will be writing a small personal note to them as a keepsake.
11. You’ll get better. As a bonus, guess what? Your photography will get better. Whether you are a mom with a camera, a hobbyist, or a professional, the only way to take better photographs is to … drum roll … take them! Shoot every day. Try new things, new perspectives, different light.
I can’t wait to see what you create.
Thanks, Leigha, for this wonderfully helpful, and beautifully put together post! You can see Leigha’s original piece, as well as other great content, on her blog. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter, and Like her Facebook page too, for even more from Leigha!