Saturday, 31 December 2011

Day 350

Pookie really is the most thoughtful companion; when I got up this morning I found that she'd left me a dead rat on the door mat. I couldn't resist taking some some photos before I disposed of it. It was absolutely huge; by far the biggest rat I've ever seen, and it didn't have a mark on it. I've no idea how Pookie killed it. Maybe she has a special kitty superpower, such as scare-o-vision or lightning-bolt claws, or maybe the rat was already dead and she just stumbled across it.

One of my friends, Kirsty, is planning on starting a photo-a-day project in the New Year, and she asked me for some tips. I think this blog is probably the best place to share them, as some of you lot might be considering starting a similar project. If you do, let me know, and I'll follow you and cheer you on. Anyway, here are the tips I've come up with.

Have a clear idea about what you want to get out of the project.

When I started I had two main intentions: to take up photography as a regular hobby instead of just dabbling at it occasionally, and to develop my technical skills. You may have very different intentions to mine - you may want to chronicle a year in your life, or use your photography as part of a mindfulness practice, or explore a particular subject, or develop a signature artistic style. But as long as you understand why you're embarking on the project, you'll always have a sense of purpose driving you on, and you'll have a greater sense of satisfaction at the end of the project, because you'll have achieved a goal you set for yourself.

Accept that you will encounter difficulties.

Some days you won't feel like touching your camera at all. Some days you won't be able to find a single subject that interests you. Some days you'll have great fun taking loads of shots and none of them will be any good. Some days you'll have a particular end result in mind and you'll feel frustrated because you can't create an image that's even remotely close to what you can see in your mind's eye. Some days real life will get in the way and make your project seem like the silliest, most unimportant thing you could possibly be doing. Don't sweat it. Experiencing these difficulties and then figuring out a way to work through them is all part of what makes the project so exciting and rewarding. So just do your best and hang on in there, and you'll be fine.

Don't panic if you miss a day. 

I know, I know - we'd all like to achieve the 'perfect score' -  completing a 365 project in 365 days, but if you accept at the start that this is an unrealistic expectation, then you'll cope better on those days when life conspires to make you miss making that blog post. If you panic about missing a day, you're way more likely to give up on the project before you've completed it, than if you learn to take missed days in your stride. By the time I finish my project it will have taken me over 13 months, but if I hadn't given myself leeway over the timing, I'd have become disheartened and would never have finished it.

Take a camera with you everywhere.

Some of the best shots are not planned, but come from unexpected situations. I know it's a cliche, but it's true. So if you want to take advantage of what life throws your way, it's important to have a camera with you at all times, even if it's just a camera phone.

Tell EVERYBODY about your project. 

The more people who know about your project, the more people there will be who will take an interest in it, and the more impetus you will have to keep the project going. Just knowing that there are other people apart from yourself looking at your photos makes you want to raise your game, and gives you a sense of obligation about making that daily blog post. And on difficult days, that sense of obligation may be the only thing that keeps you going! Also, people are amazingly generous, and will offer you support, advice and feedback -- all of which are essential food for the artist's soul!

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