Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Challenge: A Photo-A-Day

We are so close to wrapping up 2014, it's time to write this post.

My New Year's resolution for 2014 (well, the one I kept, anyway) was a challenge for myself that I had heard of other people pursuing, and I thought it was a fun idea. The challenge? Take a photo every day of the year.

And here we are, at the end of the year, and I haven't missed one yet! It's easy enough to do, really. I have my phone in my pocket almost all the time anyway, and it's just a matter of being mindful of snapping a few pictures throughout the day, which I often did anyway.

Day 36

The challenge becomes trying to encapsulate a day while not letting the photo-taking get in the way of enjoying the activities of the day! (Since the point--for me anyway--was to capture life...not replace it with photographs.)

You can set your own "rules" for the Photo-a-Day challenge, but here were the ones I decided upon for my own project:

1. I had to take the pictures on my phone. (Which was a pragmatic choice for me, since I generally always have my phone with me.) I was curious to see the quality of pictures I could take with a cellphone camera; overall, I am pretty pleased.

Day 358
2. I was to be the photographer for each photo. (Since it was my photo challenge!) I did break this rule three times during the course of the year, when I decided that a photo taken by someone else on my phone was a better way to capture the day. In all three cases, it was because I was in the photo, and a selfie just wouldn't do.

3. I had to take the photo between midnight and midnight of each day of the year. I generally tried to also post the photo the day I took it, but there were a few times I wasn't able to post the picture the day it was taken for various reasons.

That's it! And really, it isn't about the rules anyway...this was just my own challenge, the way I set it up for myself.

If you'd like to see my year in pictures, you can feel to check out my Project365:2014 album. (Also, the pictures illustrating this post are a few of my favorites from the year.)

Day 162

I found a few benefits to taking on the Photo-a-Day challenge:
  1. I was more mindful of trying to capture my year in pictures. As I mentioned earlier, there was a tension of still being present in the moment instead of just trying to capture a shot, especially when the photo was something involving family and friends. But overall, being thoughtful about what photos I would take to sum up a day caused me to be more mindful about the way I spend my time for the year.
  2. Related to the first item, I found myself literally numbering my days this year. As I posted the photo for each day, I found myself really reflecting on each day, and how I had spent it. This sort of meditation and reflection was a real blessing for me.
  3. I looked back at my album for this project regularly. (Actually, I looked at it daily as I posted new pictures!) This was a great way for me to recall the events of the year. Even now, as I look through the album, I recall very specific things I did on certain days, even though the photo of that day might not have captured every activity from that day.
  4. I decided to add a short caption for each photo, which made this project almost a photo essay of my year, or maybe a photo-based journal of sorts. Keeping the writing pithy and to the point and letting the photo (mostly) speak for itself was part of the challenge; I tried to just use the captions for context as much as possible.
  5. I used Flickr for posting my Photo-a-Day, which I liked very much. I use photos from Flickr regularly for illustrations on this blog, because it's very easy to share photos on Flickr with a Creative Commons license (which allows you to grant permission to others to use your photos without giving up your copyright to the images.) Since I have benefitted so much from people sharing images with Creative Commons licenses on Flickr, I found this a good way to begin to give back to this community that has provided me with so much!
Day 311

I encourage you to give the Photo-a-Day challenge a try! Here's a checklist for getting started:
  1. Decide on a platform for posting your photos online. There are lots of options.
    • You might just post them to Facebook--either to a "Photo-A-Day" album, or just sharing them on your timeline
    • You could create a Flickr album like I did for my project. Signing up for Flickr is free and pretty straightforward. Flickr has a nice app too, which makes it especially easy if you are using your phone anyway.
    • Speaking of apps, Instagram might be a natural choice for you, if you are already using Instagram...
    • Notice that all of these so far are "social" in nature. Perhaps you'd like to keep your photos private? No need to share them visible to the world. Flickr allows you to keep your photos private, if you like. You could also set up a blog on Blogger (like this one) or on Wordpress, which you could make public or private as you like.
    • You could also create a website dedicated to your project, if you're feeling really fancy. There are quite a few easy-to-use, free website creators out there. Google Sites is functional and straightforward, if a bit ugly. Wix and Weebly and Tackk are all a bit prettier, and all easy to use as well.
  2. Decide on your "rules." These can be as flexible or stringent as you want. The rules I set for myself were just to provide some structure to the project. You know yourself--how much structure do you need for a project like this?
  3. Get started snapping pics! And...posting them, of course! (Because that's the fun part!) Follow your rules, but don't be afraid to break them as needed.
  4. Don't beat yourself up if you miss a day. This is supposed to be fun, after all! If you miss posting pics for a few days, you can always get caught up later. If you miss taking a few pics, don't stress about it. You can post a few extras, or not at all. It's your project!
  5. Don't be afraid to post "mundane" photos. So you don't have amazingly exciting things happening every day? Don't stress about it. Take a picture of something in your house, in your yard, in your office, in your car. Take a picture of your kids/spouse/pet/significant other/roommate/creepy neighbor. Take a picture of an everyday object, but take it from an interesting angle. Or slap a filter on it and see it in a whole new light!
Day 244

I hope you'll consider taking the challenge! I had so much fun doing this last year, that I'll be starting a new challenge for 2015 on January 1. If you decide to get started on your own challenge, share the link to your album in the comments section--I'd love to see your photos too!


  1. Dave, I'm going on year 5 of a 365 photo blog : http://365scsdmedia.blogspot.com/2015/01/1-1-15.html My "rules" are a little different, but the result is the same. I'm more mindful about what happens during my day and I often use the images to reflect back. I also would encourage others to take on the challenge!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Kathy! Thanks for sharing your story too--I loved flipping through your photos. :-) Using Picasa makes a lot of sense, and easy to embed a slideshow in any website that way too. Great idea!

      Hope 2015 is a good year for you!