As a photoblogger, even though I don’t generally take photographs every day with my large dSLR camera, I do find that I shoot every day nonetheless, if you count the other cameras I have in my arsenal (including, of course, my trusty iPhone). And I don’t make any secret of the fact that photography has been instrumental in changing my outlook on life: when you tend to find beauty every day to shoot, it’s hard not to feel at least a pang of gratitude every now and then. Besides, shooting every day makes it impossible not to improve your photography (or cellphoneography, in some cases).
Given that we only have 18 summers with our kids, summer is a perfect time to develop your own daily photo practice — and how great would it be to have a stash of photos to memorialize in a beautiful book at the end of the season? So in the event that you’ve been toying with the idea of dusting off your camera this summer, here are my top 5 favourite tips for creating a daily photo practice:
1. Keep a camera on you every day. Remember, for the purposes of this project, a “camera” doesn’t have to be some big, fancy, dSLR (although it can) — it can also be your cell phone, which you likely have on you every day, anyway. But make sure you have something, because you never know when inspiration is going to strike. Having your tools with you at all times is the best way to make sure you’re ready.
2. Related: don’t worry about what kind of camera you’re using. Do not let the fact that you don’t own a fancy camera keep you from doing the project, if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do — camera phones are actually fine (and often more convenient) for this project. Just use whatever kind of camera you have at your disposal.
And incidentally, since we’re talking cameraphones, be sure to check out all the amazing apps that are out there for processing your photos on the fly. My current favourites are Snapseed, Pixlr-o-Matic and the brand new Flickr app, all of which are free, and do what I think is a beautiful job. But there are others, too. Go explore.
3. Don’t freak out about quality. When you start a project like this, it’s really easy to get all caught up in Taking The Perfect Photo — and then, of course what happens is that you take what you think is a less-than-perfect photo, you get discouraged, and then it’s over. Don’t do that.
Instead, think of this as a way to simply quickly record your life — your messy, imperfect-yet-beautiful life — and have something to look over again at the end of the year. I’ve actually often found that photographs I’ve taken that I really didn’t think much of at the time turn out later to be some of my favourite photographs I’ve ever taken, because of the mood or memory that is reflected back to me.
In other words, perfection can be the thief of fun in this little venture. Don’t give it that power.
4. Consider publishing your photos every day. I know, I know — this can seem like a pretty intimidating guideline, but hear me out: getting constructive feedback on your photos can be insanely gratifying. Furthermore, being able to see, at a glance, your progress over the year can help you identify where you’re improving, and what aspects of your photography you want to work on. Finally, you’re going to be so happy at the end of the year to have your entire body of work available your easy viewing to scroll through.
Where should you publish? Well, of course you could start a blog (and certainly, for me, it’s my favourite place to publish my images) but that’s not necessary. You could also simply publish them on your Facebook account, labeled 1/365, 2/365, 3/365, and so on (and you can limit the audience who sees them there, if you’d rather). You can use Flickr, a service I’ve used for many years, and which has never let me down.
5. Remember, you’re doing this for fun. No one is paying you to do this, nothing is going to happen to you if you skip a day, or simply forget to do it — just pick up on the following day and keep going. Or don’t. Whatever. This is just about creating a habit, if you want to.
So go forth and capture the summer, friends. You’re going to love how beautiful the season turns out to be.