Project 366 – A Year In Review

I can’t believe I’ve actually finished Project 366, and not missed a day. It came close from time to time, but I always managed to get a picture. I’ll be the first to admit that some of them have been a little “under par”, but that’s pretty much like life, isn’t it?

Anyway, for those of you who have shared the journey during 2008, or those who might feel inspired to try your own Project 365 during 2009, here’s a tip per month, which I’ve learned from completing the project:

1. Always Carry A Camera With You!

It might sound obvious, but it’s definitely true. Even if I didn’t have my SLR with me, I would invariably have my Ixus 850 IS compact in my bag when I was out and about. You never know where you’ll see that picture which really makes your day. And “the ones that got away” are always the best!

In The Eye Of The Beholder

[Day #255In The Eye Of The Beholder . I took my camera with me to a business networking event and managed to take this rather attractive peacock feather during the lunch break.]

2. You’re Not Always Going To Take A Masterpiece

But that doesn’t matter! Some days are great, others you can barely manage to drag the camera out of its case. Life has its ups and downs, so just accept that if you’ve taken a bad picture one day, the next is another opportunity for you to do better. And some days, I’ve actually chosen a photograph which best represents the day I’ve had, rather than the one with most photographic merit.

Lights In The Sky

[Day #246Lights In The Sky . This was undoubtably the nadir of my year. It’s rubbish. But it’s the only image I took on 2nd September, for whatever reason. So it just had to do!]

3. There’s No Such Thing As The Wrong Weather

Don’t let a bit of fog, rain, wind or snow put you off. Take the camera out anyway. It will often give your photos a great atmosphere.

Citypoint Evening

[Day #348Citypoint Evening . I had taken other pictures during the day, but decided to bring the camera along when I went out to a party in the evening. The rain on the streets, plus the people with brolly, brought the scene to life.]

4. Don’t Panic About Getting A Shot Early In The Day

In the early days of the project, I used to worry about getting a photo early in the day, or was afraid I might forget to take a picture. So by all means, take an “insurance” shot if that makes you feel comfortable, but don’t decide straight away that that will be it. Always keep an open mind for opportunities which may arise later in the day.

After Hours

[Day #224After Hours. This was taken in the late evening as I was on my way home from a meeting at the local village hall. Nothing else had inspired me during the day, but this is what I saw when I happened to poke my head around the door to the main meeting room.]

5. Make The Time To Make A Picture

How often do we think “I haven’t got time for that”? And how many times do we find ourselves making time for things we want to do, rather than things we should be doing? If you can afford half an hour to watch a trashy soap in the evening when you get home from work, you can surely spare 10 minutes during your day to make a picture! It’s just a question of getting into the habit of it, and allowing yourself a little time for creativity. You’ll feel better for it!

Coffee Break

[Day #3Coffee Break. Even in a busy schedule, there’s always time for a short break. Use it to think about making a picture while you enjoy your coffee.]

6. Look At Familiar Things In A New Way

It’s easy to see the same old things day after day, and never appreciate them. So take some time to look at your familiar surroundings in a different way. Household objects photographed from an unusual angle or in different lighting can often make good subjects. Go for the abstract, or home in on a pattern. If you can use a macro lens or setting on your camera, you will often see the world in an intriguing way.

Enigma IV

[Day #49Enigma IV. This sits on my drive every day and I largely ignore it until I need to go somwhere. But add a touch of frost and a macro lens – all of a sudden, it doesn’t look like the bonnet of my car anymore.]

7. It’s All About Light

Photography is all about light. If you can catch some sun or dramatic lighting, it can bring a scene to life. But in most locations, the sun doesn’t shine all the time, so if you have a dull day outside, you can always turn your hand to a bit of table-top photography. It doesn’t require expensive lighting or props. Try pointing a desk lamp at an acute angle across some crayons and see what happens:

Exploring Orange

[Day #89Exploring Orange. Part of my mini-project, Exploring Colour, which I undertook during March and April. A simple set up – 4 crayons, a paper clip and some coloured paper.]

8. Right Place, Right Time

Rainbow PewsBy being observant, having your camera with you at all times and always being on the lookout for pictures, you will often find that you are in the right place at the right time.

This, of course, is no accident, but it can seem like it at times. You might be in the right spot to take a wonderful landscape just as the sun pokes out from clouds, for instance. Just like me on Day #22, when I was walking St. Peter’s Way close to home. Or Day #40 when I was walking in the woods and spotted a horse racing gig pelting towards me through the mud…

[Day #104Rainbow Pews. Having taken some shots in Dedham which were rather routine, I stopped off at West Bergholt Church to have a look round inside. The light had gone, the clouds were gathering. Except for a fleeting 10 seconds when I happened to be in this spot in the church. Suddenly, the sun came out and shone through the stained glass windows in the nave and onto the pews below. I managed two exposures before the light was gone for the rest of the day.]

9. Make A List Of Things To Try

Inspiration seems to come and go on a whim, I find. So during the year, whenever I thought of a good subject to photograph, I would add it to my list of things to try. This was mainly used for days at home when the light was poor, or inspiration didn’t strike. I found it useful, especially if there were things I particularly wanted to attempt which I hadn’t done before. Photographing water bubbles was one:

Enigma III

[Day #29Enigma III. Bubbles on water, with coloured wrapping paper underneath. If you would like to read more about the setup, here’s how it was done.]

10. Learn A New Technique/About Your Camera

Whether you are a newcomer to photography or have been taking pictures for years, there’s always something new to learn. And if you had a new camera for Christmas and are not sure what all the buttons do, why not take some pictures to help you experiment and find out? Perhaps take the same subject with different apertures, shutter speeds or ISO settings and see what difference they make. Use different lenses to change the perspective of your pictures. Or there are things you can do in the post-process to make your images stand out from the mundane.

Signs Of Spring

[Day #58Signs Of Spring. I decided to experiment with this simple compact camera shot and used the Orton Effect to give it a softer, more gentle feeling.]

11. Explore Your Local Area

Have you ever thought “There’s nothing to photograph round where I live”? So did I, but then I bought myself an OS 1:25,000 scale wall map centred on my house and drew a 5 mile radius on it. My aim has been to explore as much of that circle as possible during the year. I’ve found some amazing little gems which I never knew existed, largely because I was complacent about living in the area. So take a look yourself, and you might be pleasantly surprised as to what you can find! If you have a dog, take it for a walk out of your usual patch and explore some new footpaths. I’ve also found some really amazing locations since starting to go geocaching. It’s a great excuse to get out and about and visit places you might have otherwise overlooked.

After Constable

[Day #307After Constable. The Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation runs east from Chelmsford to the Blackwater estuary at Maldon. The towpath is a great place to explore. I found this beautiful scene one day whilst out doing some geocaching.]

12. Do It With Friends!

I really would not have completed my Project366 without the help, support and feedback from all the great folks on Flickr. Encouragement from them meant I found the will to keep going on dreary days. They have posted some truely inspirational pictures, and having met a fair few of them in person, they’re also a great bunch of people. You know who you are! So if you’re just starting your own 365 odyssey, join a group on Flickr, post your pictures and get commenting. You will soon make some wonderful contacts and start interesting conversations.


[Day #195Wipeout. Some of the 366 2008 group met up in London one July weekend to chew the fat, enjoy a pint and – eventually – take some pictures together on the South Bank. This one was made with them.]

A few Statistics

For those of you that like numbers, here are some stats:

Pictures made at home: 127/366 = 34.7%
Pictures made within 5 miles of home: 98/366 = 26.8%
Pictures made further away: 141/366 = 38.5%

Pictures made with Ixus 850 IS Compact: 89/366 = 24%
Pictures made with DSLR (EOS 30D/300D): 277/366 = 76%

And in case you care, here are my favourite and least favourite shots from each month:

Month Fave Least Fave
January #22 Sunset on St Peter’s Way #11 Inviting
February #41 All Saints By The Canal #35 All I Can Eat Buffet
March #65 Covert Surveillance #86 Tools Of The Trade
April #104 Rainbow Pews #113 Put On The Spot
May #123 Lago di Casteldoria #136 Gone With The Wind
June #162 An Evening Swim #159 Magic Mushrooms
July #197 Mind The Gap * #199 Jetée
August #217 Sunflower Shadows #240 Coming Out Of My Shell
September #272 Sunday Morning On The Thames #246 Lights In The Sky **
October #292 On The Horizon #294 These Boots…
November #323 On The Right Track #332 Chilly Outside, Chilli Inside
December #341 Mersey Sunset #344 Rainbow Refractions

* Pic of the Year
** Dud of the Year!

Final Thoughts

First and foremost – Don’t Give Up!

If you find you missed a day, take a “placeholder” picture and pick up your camera again the next day. I managed all 366, but some of our group missed one or two during the year. But they still participated in the spirit of it.

I’ve also found that it’s a wonderful way to keep a diary. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say. And looking back over the Visual Archives, I find it’s so easy to remember what I was doing just by looking at the thumbnails, even if I don’t read the whole entry.

Oh, and in case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve decided to keep going during 2009. It’s addictive 😉