In search of ways to broaden their creative horizons or recapture that slippery beast known as inspiration, many photographers take on a long term project — something like a 365 project. These things typically get off to a roaring start, but before long, the motivation to keep the project alive fizzles.
If this describes you and your efforts to follow through on a long term photography project, the strategies offered below should provide some motivational sustenance and help you stay the course with your next — or currently unfinished — project.
Inspiration by photosteve101, on Flickr
If one of your primary struggles is simply finding something, anything to shoot, then all you have to do is look to others for ideas. Search out top rated images on sites like 500px and Flickr; seeing the brilliant work that other photographers are producing will likely spark a creative light within you.
Don’t limit yourself to online sources, though. There is inspiration to be found all around you. Photography books can be a valuable resource; to save money, buy them used or check them out from a library. Sometimes all you need is a change of scenery; go outside, take a walk, and immerse yourself in the environment.
Ideas are waiting around every corner.
Use the Buddy System
One thing is for sure: you’re not the first nor will you be the last to struggle with a photography project. Seek out the support of others who have been down the same road that you are currently staggering along. Sometimes all you need is a reminder to take a photo or to upload the day’s image; other times, you’ll need to look to a friend for ideas or encouragement. Regardless of whatever your particular needs might be, having someone in your corner to simply cheer you on could be the difference between completing and abandoning your 365 project.
Get a Flickr Account
Not because Flickr is the end-all-be-all of online photo sharing services, but it does provide a few features (such as the 200MB max image size) that might make using Flickr a bit more desirable than just uploading images to your personal blog or favorite photography forum. The most compelling feature in this context, however, is Flickr’s groups. There are groups for just about anything you can imaging, including several dedicated to those doing 365 projects. Flickr groups are great places to get feedback, pick up a few ideas, and make a friend or two.
Get Some New Gear
New Lens for my Olympus E-PL1 by 55Laney69, on Flickr
There’s no need to spend a fortune; you can pick up 50mm lens or an off-camera lighting kit for reasonable prices, giving yourself the opportunity to expand your creative reach. Opening up possibilities should make it a little easier to stay on track with your project.
Don’t Limit Yourself
A 365 project is a relatively long term commitment; you shouldn’t expect that taking a photo everyday for an entire year is going to be easy. So don’t make things harder on yourself by following too many rules. Trying to stick to a strict 11:59p.m. deadline, for example, may not mesh with your personality and the type of photographer you are; work within the realm of what suits you best and you will likely feel less anxiety about the whole process.
Photography projects can be a challenge, but that is, in part, what makes them so worthwhile — you come out the other end a better photographer. Apply as many of the above suggestions as you deem worthy to help see you through.