It’s the end of one year and the beginning of another and a lot of photographers are either getting ready to embark on or are finishing up their 365 photo challenge. On January 1st, 2017, I began my 365 Photo Challenge/ Photo a Day Project. If you’re not familiar with the 365 Photo Challenge, it’s a project where you take and post a photograph everyday for one year. I’m not sure what I was thinking at the time, it must have been after a heavy night of drinking, but I stayed committed and completed the project. As a street photographer, I decided to challenge myself to photograph “Characters” on the street whom I felt were interesting. The person is the key subject in the frame and the photographs are cropped to a square format. Other than that there were no other rules, the photo could be color or black and white, could be a close up, or have the character framed with an interesting environmental background.
Here’s a little insight about my experience with the 365 Photo Challenge/ Photo a Day Project in case you are thinking about starting one yourself.
After a year, I’m glad I did it, but I’m happy to have the project completed and I’m ready to move on. At the beginning of the year I couldn’t imagine reaching the ending point, but here I am. The challenge, well, came with its challenges. On the positive side it forced me to get out and shoot more and to produce an image everyday to post to social media and my website. On the negative side, I had to produce an image everyday and post it whether I liked it or not.
- Accountability- forced me to shoot more.
- Satisfaction of completing a project.
- Had a photo to post to social media everyday.
- Got me thinking more about composing the frame.
- Had to post a photo, even if it wasn’t great.
- Limited my vision to only look for “Characters”.
- Made it difficult to focus on a complete street scene.
- Had to shoot, rain or shine, sick or healthy.
There are many different ways you can approach a 365 project. You can find websites or Facebook and Flickr groups that give you ideas and boundaries. I decided to blaze my own trail and make my own rules. Being a street photographer I chose to take photos of “Characters” on the street. A single subject that stood out in the frame and it could be the person that makes the picture or it could be more about the environment or composition. Just for fun, I ran the numbers of the 365 characters I photographed throughout this year.
By The Numbers:
- Black and White- 250
- Color- 115
- Male- 274
- Female- 80
- Not Sure- 11
- Drag- 11
- Smokers- 35
- Impressive Facial Hair- 100
- Wearing a Hat- 178
- With a Pet- 15 (dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, reptiles; plus 4 stuffed)
- Murdered- 1
- Skateboards- 4
- Eye Contact- 94
- Street Portraits- 13
- Times I wanted to quit- 9
- Photos I loved- 14
Although I loved all of my characters, 14 photos stood out for me as my favorites because I feel everything came together in the frame, and I included them here. It could be the overall composition, the light, an emotion or jester from the subject, or it could just be an interesting character.
Fairs, Festivals, & Events Where I Found Some Of My Characters
- How Weird
- Folsom Street Fair
- Pre-Carnival (Provincetown)
- Alameda Antique Fair
- Alameda Street Fair
- Fourth of July Parade
- Woman’s March
Locations Where I Photographed My Characters
- San Francisco, California
- Oakland, California
- Berkeley, California
- Alameda, California
- Los Angeles, California
- Chicago, Illinois
- Boston, Massachusetts
- Cambridge, Massachusetts
- Provincetown, Massachusetts
- Reno, Nevada
Overall I will have to say it was a positive experience, but it was a challenge. Did it make me a better photographer in the end? For the most part I would have to say yes. It got me looking more for composition, light and shadow, and interesting subject matter. I believe the best way to improve your photography is simply to get out and shoot more and this project got me doing that.
I’d like to first thank everyone who has followed me along on social media and gave me “Likes” and support, that helped to keep me moving forward. I’d also like to thank all of my involuntary “Characters”. I love to celebrate people who aren’t afraid to express themselves and just be who they are, even if they are unaware of it. This was a great exercise to train me to look at strong subject matters along with composition, but I will need to retrain myself to look beyond just “Characters” and look at the whole scene and compose a compelling story within the frame.