As you may know by now, quite a few of the team here at Wex are really keen photographers too. Janine works in our German division and was inspired to begin her own 365 photography project in January 2012, so I caught up with her as she nears the end of a year spent taking a photo every day to see how she's found it so far - what's worked, what hasn't and to get some advice and inspiration for those of us planning on embarking on our own year-long photography projects in 2013...
1. What inspired you to start a year-long photography project?
Well, that’s pretty easy to answer. I actually translated the blog post about year-long photography projects that was published in January for our German website and felt inspired and provoked. My enthusiasm for photography was pretty low at the time and I hardly ever fancied taking my DSLR out with me. So I decided I should really give it a good try. The year 2012 was also quite a special year for me personally because I would be moving to a new city. This became another reason to record this year: I would be able to track the changes and developments.
2. Why did you choose the 365 project as your year-long project?
I really felt that this was the most exciting thing to do. Although the people who contributed to the blog post that inspired me, had warned that doing too much could cause frustration, I still wanted to do it.
I definitely had those frustrating days where time was running out and I still had no picture. But I am almost through my year (I will finish end of January 2013) and I am so glad I fought through those days and took a picture.
3. In what ways has doing this project benefited or improved your photography?
My current idea is to create a photo calendar from the best pictures I took and when I go through the images to chose the images for the pages, I can definitely see that my attention to detail and the composition has improved massively (I'm still no pro though!). Looking through the early pictures of the project I wonder why I didn't see obvious things. I also explored the settings and possibilities of my DSLR more and I feel a lot more confident in using it and venturing further into the manual settings. I have also learned to look out for photo opportunities all the time. My husband jokes now because he can see me “scan” the surroundings for anything to photograph.
4. What has been the most difficult part of the project so far?
The hardest thing was definitely the time and sometimes I really struggled to get the creative juices flowing after a long day at work. But I must also say that I have had some really great (or crazy) ideas at 11 at night and it was even more rewarding when I still went out to take them.
The inspiration wasn't easy either but I didn't set myself the target to take the most amazing picture every single day. There are photos that I am not happy with but that's fine. There was just nothing else possible that day and I think it is very important to stay realistic. I also allowed myself to use pictures taken on my iPhone.
5. Have you been tempted to give up at any point?
Not really to be honest. Although I was tempted to take really bad pictures and not care about it - I'm not sure which one is worse! But it was really good when I had some really bad days without any motivation, to then get a great picture again.
6. How have you managed to stay inspired and motivated throughout the year?
There are a few different things that made me stay motivated. Our move was definitely one huge motivator. I wanted to capture as much as possible about the place I lived at the time: the things I loved about it and the things I found strange or funny. I also tried to capture the move as best as I could, although there weren't many 'pretty' things due to the usual moving mess.
Afterwards, exploring the new city through the lens was and still is amazing.
7. Did you join in any photography communities or connect with other photographers doing a 365 projects throughout the year?
I joined the community on at 365project.org. It is really easy to share your images on there and sometimes you get feedback from others which is really encouraging.
I also started my own blog for the project but I must say that it was a little over-enthusiastic trying to upload my images on the blog as well as on the 365project website. I am hoping to catch up with uploading all images on both sites at some point but going through all the images, editing them if necessary and then sharing them on two sites is quite time consuming. I have, however, connected with a few more photographers just through sharing my images on social media sites like Facebook and Google+.
8. Are there any photos that really stand out as highlights and why?
Yes, I have a few favourites...
9. Are you considering doing another year-long photography project next year?
Yes, I would…I am actually a little worried about stopping it. I have learned so much and I have gained so much more enthusiasm about photography that I am worried that it will all go down hill from the 31st of January 2012 when I stop. But I do need a break from lugging my Canon 550D around all the time. I think the camera would appreciate that too :) It certainly had to work a lot harder this past year, than it has ever had to before and it got bashed a little too! I am currently saving for a decent compact or bridge camera that would fit neatly into my handbag, with that I would definitely consider doing another 365 project.
10. Any advice or tips for those planning on starting a 365 project in 2013?
First of all: Just do it! I cannot recommend it more. Although there are days where you are just frustrated and wish that the year was over, it is worthwhile pushing through. I would highly recommend joining the community at 365project.org. Quite late through my project I found out that they issue word-lists for every month on their blog. Community members then vote for words for every day of the month and you can then try and take a photograph suitable for that word. It has often saved my day as I didn't have any idea. Obviously you don’t have to use those words though.
If you are planning to use your DSLR for the project, I would recommend allowing yourself to alternatively use the camera on your phone or a compact camera as well. Some days it is just not possible or appropriate to use your DSLR.
I'd also recommend getting some kind of software that is able to batch process or sort easily. I used a combination of Photoshop CS4 and Adobe Lightroom - being able to tag pictures in Lightroom is also quite helpful. You'll also need quite a lot of space on your hard drive as you will end up taking hundreds if not thousands of pictures. My stats so far are: 52GB and nearly 8,000 pictures with over a month to go!
But most of all… have fun! Some of the pictures I took are weird and other people might not get why I took them. But they are more for myself than for anyone else. I know why I took them and what I felt or what I can see in them. So try not to get too hung up about the comments you get and see it as a personal development. Enjoy!
You can see more of Janine's images on Flickr.
Thanks very much to Janine for sharing her 365 experience with us! I'm certainly tempted to stop procrastinating and make 2013 the year I embark on my first 365 photography project.
Are you planning on working on a year-long or 365 photography project in 2013? Let us know in the comments if you are!