Cotton Fox Photography

Lessons learned through a Project 365 and Project 52

In 2013 I undertook the self imposed challenge of completing a Project 365, a photography project where I took a photo a day (and quite often more than one) for a whole year with my Canon DSLR. Looking back at it now I can’t believe I managed it because I have no idea how I could possibly fit in taking a picture every day as well as editing it and blogging it too, especially when I found it impossible just to blog one image and quite frequently posted several for the same day. But I did all the same and it feels like somewhat of an achievement, something to be proud of.

However I sadly can’t say I have the same pride about the Project 52 I started in 2014 because somehow I got lost in the middle of the year and it ended up being the thing that had to give when something has to. That’s not to say it wasn’t worthwhile or a valuable learning process, after all there is a lesson in everything we do. Plus it means I have more pictures of my kids as they have grown which is the most important thing of all.

Doing a daily, weekly or monthly photography project is like going on a journey where you are sure the final destination will be better than where you started, but you still aren’t sure where that destination is. In 2013 I thought I had it all sussed, that I knew a lot about photography, I had no idea I had so much to learn. At the start of 2013 I was taking photographs like this – taken in bad lighting and softened far too much in post processing…

Day 11

And this…

Day 10

The white balance is awful and look at the background, how squint things are, plus I think she has something in her mouth. To be fair, they aren’t the most awful photos and I’m still glad I captured them but by the end of the year I was taking photographs like this…

Day 365-7

And this…

Day 347

And by the time we got to October of 2014 I was taking photographs like this which is one of my absolute favourites to date…

cookie duo at the beach

Along with these ones…

Ava and the croissant

glowing ears in the woods

By taking photographs on a regular basis I had learned not just about how to take a sharp photograph but also composition, white balance, how to use lighting, paying attention to my background and perhaps more importantly, I had learned what my ‘style’ was. I learned that I love to shoot backlit images in bright sun and that I am perhaps happiest when shooting at the beach or around trees.

I used to always take pictures of just people’s faces as, for me, that was the most important part which I wanted to focus on. But I learned to take a step back, that sometimes the context was just as important to the feeling or mood of the photo, and sometimes just changing position can lead to a better photograph and can also help you show a different perspective to whatever story you are trying to tell. I still love to photograph people, through trial and a few errors it dawned on me that my forte doesn’t lie in photographing landscapes on their own (although I can take a semi decent one now…),

Newton Stewart Countryside

chanonry point

but that I could use them when photographing my subject to best effect. It’s not just about the person but the surroundings as well.

I cringe when I look back at some of the bad photos I have taken but in the end they were all part of my journey as a photographer and I learned something from every single shot I took. 

This year I am endeavouring again to take part in a Project 52 but this year, having learned the lesson the hard way last year, I’m sticking to posting just one picture a week in the hopes that it will be a more manageable task. Plus I love using my Canon 5D mark iii, it’s a joy every time and I never want to miss an important milestone with my kids, or even just how their cheeky faces look just now or the silly things they get up to.

Project 52 2015 Week 3 small

Project 52 2015 Week 4 small

I feel that as a creative person it’s important to challenge yourself and to try new things. Taking daily photographs made me come out of my comfort zone and took me to new places in my pursuit of continued learning. You will discover what you love to shoot and what you don’t, but shoot it all and use each opportunity as a way of moving towards new goals. I have so many things I want to achieve with my photography this year and I am constantly thinking of ways I can push myself to be just a little better. If you have ever toyed with the idea of doing a photography project then I encourage you to start it now, don’t put off learning how to use your camera any longer. Go out into the world and learn to see it a little differently and you will be all the better for it. I can’t promise that you will immediately start taking amazing pictures, after all Rome wasn’t built in a day and all that, but I can promise that you won’t regret trying and you’ll build lots of memories along the way.

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This entry was published on January 22, 2015 at 11:11 am. It’s filed under Black and White Photography, Children, CPD (Continual Professional Development), Environmental Portraiture, Landscapes, Siblings and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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