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When I started my first 365 Project back in 2013 I never expected how it would impact my life. My photo journal became one of the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.
I’ve been doing this for about 6 years now, without missing a single day. Over the years I helped more than 10,000 people start their own 365 Projects.
In the guide you’re about to read I wrote down everything I know about starting, and surviving 365 Project. The result is a guide I wish someone gave me in 2013.
Before you commit to the challenge, let me explain what 365 Project actually is. In this section you’ll decide if you’re someone who will benefit from a photo journal.
365 project is a photography challenge. But it’s not about being the best photographer, or using the best gear. Rather, it’s about being consistent and documenting your life with one photo every day, for a year.
The rules are very simple. You take photos every day and you save one of them in a separate place, folder, online service or a scrapbook. The goal is to have 365 photos after a year. Each one taken on a different day.
365 projects are not for everyone, that’s for sure. It’s an ambitious challenge that will change the way you look at the world around you. But it’s still a challenge, and not a trivial one.
I have never met anyone who completed the challenge and regretted it. In fact, 89% of people who manage to finish the project, start another one the very next day.
That’s how powerful the habit is. And people benefit from it in many ways. Here’s just few examples.
"I do not think that there is any other quality so essential to success of any kind as the quality of perseverance. It overcomes almost everything, even nature."
— John D. Rockefeller
With a 365 project you’ll learn to be consistent, and how important it is to show up every day. It teaches you that big goals are made of small steps. A beautiful album of 365 photos only takes one photo a day to create.
Along the way you’ll develop traits like: patience, confidence, self awareness.
You can use 365 project to keep any resolution. Let’s say you want to learn to play guitar. All you have to do is take a photo of you playing guitar every day.
Want to start jogging? Snap a pic after your morning run and save it in your 365 project. Want to read more? Shoot a selfie with the book you’re reading. Every single day.
You can even divide your 365 project into 12 themed months, each of them being a different resolution or a habit you want to develop. Month 1 — working out. Month 2 — more family time. Month 3 — mindfulness, etc.
The possibilities are endless. 365 project is different than any other habit tracking tool because it requires a proof of you actually committing to your resolution — a photo. „Pic or it didn’t happen!”, right?
"Everything in life worth achieving requires practice. In fact, life itself is nothing more than one long practice session, an endless effort of refining our motions."
— Thomas M. Sterner
There’s nothing worse for your self-confidence than failing to keep yet another resolution or giving up on yet another goal or even a dream. With 365 project you’ll break your big goals into days, tiny milestones. And every one of them will bring you closer to the big success.
This builds up your confidence. Week after week you’ll be more confident about reaching the goal you’ve set.
Feeling of accomplishment after taking photo no. 365 without missing a single day is indescribable. People are buying champagne, cakes and throwing parties to celebrate the achievement. After completing the challenge you’ll feel unstoppable.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Study shows that social media can cause depression. What you see on Instagram or Facebook is not real life. It’s a constant stream of highlights of someone else’s life. And if you’re just sitting on a couch swiping your phone’s screen, mindlessly watching the festival of fakeness, bragging and pretending, no wonder you feel depressed.
Think about it. Is it really possible to maintain the lifestyles you see on Instagram? Of course not. People mostly share their happy moments (or pretend-to-be-happy moments) and if you look closer, the photos they share are not taken day by day. That’s because it’s impossible to be crazy ecstatic 24/7.
With 365 project the goal is to document every day of your life. And it does not matter if you’re happy or sad. Spent the whole day at work or on vacation. If you’re alone or with friends. Full of energy or sick.
It’s documenting instead of faking your life.
Your 365 project creates a bigger picture of who you really are, not who you pretend to be on social media.
Taking a look at your Instagram profile will not give you any hints on which field of your life you need to work on. When doing a 365 project on the other hand you’ll notice exactly what part of your life needs improvement.
Imagine you’re taking daily photos but struggling to get a family pic second week in a row. Those last two weeks were just photos from your office. Hey, maybe you work too much? Slow down.
Or maybe it’s been seven days since you managed to snap a daily photo outdoors. Well, maybe you should go out more? Take a walk every now and then.
Learn from your 365 project and live a better life.
"What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce."
— Karl Lagerfeld
At the time of writing this guide, I’m on my sixth year of taking photos daily. That’s more than 2000 photos over 6 years. You might think, it’s a lot, but it really is not. 2000 photos is what many of us shoot on a week-long vacation.
We take too many photos. 24 shots of lunch here, 72 selfies there and by the end of the day there’s more than a hundred new images. Most of them will never be seen again.
The goal of the 365 project is to actually take fewer photos and at the same time make each of the frames significant.
I often browse through my past photo journals, and so does my wife. It’s addictive. I can’t wait to show those albums to my children and then grandchildren.
"Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst."
— Henri Cartier-Bresson
Jerry Uelsmann, a professor of University of Florida once divided his photography students into two groups. The final grade for one group depended on the quantity of photos they took (more photos meant higher grade).
Second’s group’s grade was based on the quality of the image — they could’ve just taken one photo and still get an A as long as the image was extraordinary good.
What do you think happened? Did quality over quantity rule applied there? Just the opposite.
You can’t get worse at something by doing it every day. Being required to take photos for 365 days in a row will improve your photography skills whether you want it or not.
It’s all about daily practice.
Over the last 6 years I helped more than 10,000 people start their own 365 projects. Now that you know all about the benefits of this unique photography challenge, let me help you start your own Journey.
Unsuccessful people carry their goals around in their head like marbles rattling around in a can, and we say a goal that is not in writing is merely a fantasy.
— Darren Hardy
Obviously the goal is to get to 365th photo. But what is your why? Why do you want to get there? What’s the ultimate goal a 365 project will help you achieve? Stop for a moment. Think about it. And write it down.
When I was starting my first 365 project, my goal was to document the new chapter in my life. I just moved with my girlfriend to a new house we bought. After years of renting, we finally had our own home!
We had no furniture. No money. No clue how life would look like now.
This was the perfect time for a 365 project. Maybe your goal is to lose weight? To travel more? To meet new people? To learn photography? Read more? Spend more quality time with your family?
Set the goal and write it down.
Well begun is half done.
— Greek Proverb
You can do a 365 project just for yourself, saving one photo a day in a separate folder on your hard drive. Or you can use a service you are already familiar with like Instagram or Flickr.
However, if you’re serious about it and really want to commit, best place for you would be a dedicated platform for running 365 projects. A place with a helpful and supportive community. A place with hundreds of people focused on the same idea.
Tookapic.com is a place exactly like that. I will tell you more about it at the end of the guide.
The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.
— Chinese Proverb
365 project doesn’t have to start on January 1st. It doesn’t even have to start on Monday. Any day of the year is perfect. And the best day is today.
The moment you postpone the start of your 365 project — there’s a big chance you probably killed the whole thing right there before even taking a single photo. Take your first photo. Now.
It is the photographer, not the camera, that is the instrument.
— Eve Arnold
Camera. Any camera. That’s it. Believe me, you don’t need an expensive DSLR. The best camera is the one you have with you. A huge DSLR is not the most handy camera and you won’t be happy to carry it around with you.
Most of photographers on Tookapic use amateur mirrorless cameras. But even that may be too much. Camera in your phone is absolutely fine. You always have it with you, it’s small, fast and easy to shoot with.
The scariest moment is always just before you start.
— Stephen King
Don’t think about your first photo too much. It doesn’t have to be special. It doesn’t have to be technically spotless. It just has to happen. Remember: No one expects you to be perfect on day one. 365 project is not about being perfect at all.
Shoot a photo of the view outside your window. Take a portrait of your spouse or your pet.
If you plan to start your 365 project on Tookapic, selfie is a really good idea and a perfect way to introduce yourself to the community. Write a few words about yourself when publishing your first pic.
Bad photo that was actually taken and published is much better than the perfect one you never took.
In this section I will give you some guidelines on how to keep your 365 project engaging, fun and even addicting.
Those tips are based on my nearly 6 years of experience in daily photo taking.
"If you start out exceedingly small, you won’t say no. You’ll feel crazy if you don’t do it. And so you’ll actually do it!"
— Leo Babauta
365 days sounds like a lot of time. And a challenge of doing something every day for a year might overwhelm you. Don’t think of your 365 project as a whole year worth of photos. Think of it as one-photo-a-day.
That’s all you need.
After you complete your first 365 project, you’ll notice how little time a year actually is.
"Doing a little bit every day has a greater impact than doing a lot on one day. How much greater? Profoundly so, because a little bit every day is enough to grow into a lifelong foundational habit, and those are a big deal, as you’ll see."
— Stephen Guise
Jerry Seinfeld — one of the most successful comedians of all time uses the”Don’t break the chain technique” to write jokes every single day.
Every January he gets a big calendar with a whole year on a single sheet of paper and a red marker. Every day he writes a joke, he marks the day with the red X on the calendar. He repeats the process every day.
"After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain."
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
— Vincent van Gogh
Divide your 365 project into tiny milestones. Publishing 7 photos in a week is a mini-success, isn’t it? How about a month? Also worth celebrating. 100 days? What a lovely, round number! Let’s throw a mini-party.
Celebrating those milestones is very important to keep you motivated. Remember, it’s not the 365th photo that’s important. It’s the journey. Make it fun and enjoy it.
On Tookapic we have those milestones built in.
“Right now I’m having amnesia and deja vu at the same time. I think I’ve forgotten this before.”
— Steven Wright
That’s really important, especially when you’re just starting out. Many people simply forget to take a photo every day. Take your phone and set up two reminders. One in the morning and one in the evening. The evening one should be the last resort. Why? I’ll tell you later.
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.”
— Charles Buxton
This is something I wish I knew when I was starting my own 365 project. I often found myself “out of time” in the day. I still do sometimes. But whenever I schedule time for my daily photo in my calendar — I never forget it, never struggle to find time and even enjoy the ritual even more.
Simply block a 15–30 minutes in your day to be sure there’s always time for your 365.
“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.”
— Jo Walton
If you schedule time for your 365 project, block the time during the golden hours. It’s the time just after the sunrise and moments before the sunset. The light during the golden hours is considered the best light for photography.
I’d recommend using the morning golden hour. This saved my 365 project so many times I can’t recommend it enough. Once you take a pic early in the morning you’re good. You can forget about the daily photo. It’s been taken care of. And if you happen to take a better photo later in a day — well — that’s awesome, you have more to pick from.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”
— Warren Buffet
Studies say 50–70% of our daily activity is made of habits that we do without thinking. Anchoring is a powerful technique for developing new habits. Anchor habits are the ones that happen to most people every single day.
What is your anchor habit? Waking up early? Brushing your teeth? Having a coffee before breakfast? Going for a morning run? Afternoon visit to the gym? Family dinner?
Pick one and anchor your daily photo to it. For example:
“A clear vision, backed by definite plans, gives you a tremendous feeling of confidence and personal power.”
— Brian Tracy
It’s just easier when you know what photo you’ll be taking today. It can be a weekly theme, a monthly theme or even a theme for your whole project.
You can pick pretty much anything for your theme. Selfies, dogs, street portraits, blue objects. We had quite a few users doing that on Tookapic. One person did a whole year of photographing round objects and nothing else.
To make it even easier for you, every Monday we announce new weekly theme on Tookapic. We already had more than a hundred, so whenever you’re out of ideas for a photo just browse our weekly themes archives.
“Your job is to collect good ideas. The more good ideas you collect, the more you can choose from to be influenced by.”
— Austin Kleon
It’s a good idea to have a list of backup ideas for photos. In case you’re not feeling creative just pick an idea from the list and take a photo.
I use Pinterest for collecting ideas for my photos, but anything will do the job as well. Write them down on your phone or on a piece of paper.
If you’re using Tookapic for your 365 project you should consider creating a “Photos I want to try” gallery with all the inspiring ideas from other members.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
— Alan Lakein
It’s not always possible to take a photo in the morning or even during the day. Work, school, kids, wife, husband — it’s all more important than some daily photo. And that’s ok.
I recently had a very busy week and was only able to take my daily pic late in the evening when my wife and son were already sleeping. For this kind of scenario it’s good to have a place at your house where you can take your last- minute photo. A small “studio” that will save your 365 project just before midnight.
It doesn’t have to be expensive. A cheap LED lamp and a tripod is enough.
“Celebrate your life, you are your own light”
— Lailah Gifty Akita
You’ll get to that yourself, but let me just tell you that 365 project changed the way I look at things. I see frames everywhere. I have a rule of thirds built into my eyes now. Photo opportunities are everywhere.
Visit places you haven’t visited before. Find your hometown on Tookapic and explore the places photographed by other members of the community.
There’s so much to see in the world!
“Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it.”
— Seth Godin
Try various approaches and see what works best for you. Is publishing a photo the same day it was taken your way of doing 365 project? Or maybe you feel better taking photos for a week and then publishing all seven on Sunday? It’s your call.
However, while watching hundreds of users on Tookapic, I noticed the most effective way of doing the 365 is publishing the photo the same day it was taken or no later than the next day.
This kind of approach is the most exciting for your followers and helps you grow your audience faster, since people will actually wait for your next photo every day.
Photographers who employ this strategy have much bigger chance of completing their 365 project without missing a day. It’s difficult to forget something once it becomes your daily habit, right?
But remember, there’s nothing wrong with publishing once a week or once a month as long as every photo you publish was taken on a different day. And that brings us to…
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses all respect for himself and for others.”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky
Let’s say you’ve taken a photo 3 weeks ago but then publish it as if it was taken today. That’s cheating. Or if you take 30 photos today and then publish them one by one over the next month. That’s also cheating. On Tookapic we call it time bending.
It’s cheating and has nothing to do with the idea of 365 project. And it’s the worst kind of cheating — cheating yourself. Because even if you get to 365 photos, will you still get the feeling of accomplishment knowing that you cheated?
“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”
— Ansel Adams
Accept the fact that you will not be able to deliver amazing images every day for a year. It’s impossible. Every photographer (even a famous one) will tell you that.
After 6 years of taking photos every day I see how true the quote from Ansel Adams is. However it’s much easier to get those twelve significant photos when you’re shooting every single day. That’s why you should…
“The more I practice the luckier I get.”
— Arnold Palmer
I had weeks filled with crappy photos. It was frustrating. But every now and then I managed to take an outstanding photograph. That wouldn’t have happened if I stopped.
On Tookapic we even have a name for crappy photos taken so you wouldn’t break the streak. We call such image a “Streak Pic”.
On the other hand I had weeks filled with beautiful, creative images. The important thing is to remember that both of the streaks eventually stop. And that’s ok.
“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.”
— Will Rogers
Remember that 365 project is not the most important thing in your life. You probably have a family, kids, friends, work. If 365 project gets in a way, stop.
365 should be a hobby, a fun side project, not a life goal. Speaking from my personal experience, I got dangerously close to crossing that line. If you find yourself in a similar situation, back off a little.
“Healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other- focused: ‘What will they think?’”
— Brene Brown
It’s not about what others think about you. It’s not about how awesome you seem to be on social media. It’s not about likes, stars, followers or comments.
It’s not about others. Don’t do it to impress other people.
365 project is about you. That’s one of the very few things you’ll do solely for yourself. And it’s good to have “your thing” or if you prefer a “me time”.
**Use a 365 project to do something today that your future self will thank you for
“Not everybody will get it. People will misinterpret you and what you do. They might even call you names. So get comfortable with being misunderstood, disparaged, or ignored — the trick is to be too busy doing your work to care.”
— Austin Kleon
365 Project is an ambitious challenge and not everyone understands it. And that’s ok. Don’t try to explain it to people. Don’t try to convince them. Just do your thing. Your friends and family might not understand why you’re doing that “project with your camera” but you will.
“Celebrate what you’ve accomplished, but raise the bar a little higher each time you succeed.”
— Mia Hamm
Get yourself a little treat after the first week. Throw a little party after completing a month. And go absolutely wild after 365th pic. You deserve it.
I’m always amazed by the ideas for a finishing photo, people on Tookapic come up with. You can clearly see they’re proud of themselves and they feel accomplished. And they should be. Finishing a 365 project is a good reason to be proud!
Hopefully, you’ll see it for yourself in 12 months ;)
Now that you know everything about how to start and complete your 365 project, I’d like to invite you to join our community on tookapic.com. It is a platform dedicated to 365 projects. Think of it as “Mindful Instagram”.
It was back in 2013 when me and my girlfriend just moved into a new house. It was a completely new chapter for us. One evening I was sitting in an empty living room on the only chair we had back then and I thought about the future. I knew moving outside the city would change our lives. And I wanted to document this change.
Photography was the obvious choice for documenting. But just snapping random photos every now and then didn’t seem like a good idea. So I decided to do the 365 project and document our new life one day at a time.
One year later I was celebrating the photo no. 365. I reached the goal and never missed a day. I felt accomplished and very happy about myself. I gathered some followers along the way as well. I even inspired other people to start their own 365 projects.
But during those 12 months of the challenge there was something missing. The community. A group of like-minded people who would understand what I want to accomplish with 365 project (not everyone in your circle will understand and support the idea).
I wanted to have a community of people who’d support each other on their way to 365th pic. I decided to build a site that would bring those people together. I did. And I called it Tookapic.
„If it doesn’t contribute to the goal, get rid of it” — That’s the ultimate rule we followed when building Tookapic. That’s why every single feature on the site pushes you towards the 365th photo. There are no distractions.