I'm so happy some of you have decided to join me over at Project 2011 on Flickr! It isn't too late to jump in, in fact I'm not sure it will ever be too late. For those of you who have already decided to participate though, I wanted to share some thoughts on setting yourself up for a successful year.
When I started my 2010 project, I had never even heard of such a thing as Project 365. I just jumped right in on January 1st with no idea what I was doing. There's nothing wrong with that approach, but I'm happy for the opportunity to do a little forethought for this year's attempt.
1. Think about what your goal is for this project:
In 2010, my number one goal that sealed every decision was that I was attempting to document a year in the life of my family. When I had to choose one photo over another, the one that showcased a special moment in our family's life won out over anything else. It really helped me keep my focus and helped me stay inspired and motivated.
My goal for 2011 is to continue on that theme but go for quality over quantity. I'm extremely guilty of overshooting every session I take. I'm sucking up every last spare inch of hard drive space. I want to become more methodical over my sessions and find patience to wait for just the right moment before I press the shutter button. I think just the fact that I'm forcing myself to choose one photo that represents an entire week will help me work on my selection skills.
Your goal can be anything: to learn more about your camera and it's functions, to document the seasons in nature, to work on your editing skills, to just have a creative outlet. Whatever you'd like to focus on is just fine, but it helps to understand that focus before you get too far along.
2. Rally the troops!
I would recommend making this at least partly a family project if you can. Our little support group on Flickr will help this role tremendously but working with your spouse, kids, best friend, anyone important to you, will help keep the project interesting. Handyman Tim has been extremely supportive of this project and there have been several photo subjects he scouted out for me. There are things I'd never have noticed if it weren't for him or for the Peanut. Take your inspiration anywhere you can get it!
3. Be organized:
Right now you should start to think about how you will organize your photo files for this project or it is going to be an enormous mess. I keep a folder on my desktop labeled: "Project 365". Inside it has nothing but the final edited photo I posted to Flickr. I labeled each photo: "365_XXX.jpg" so January 1st's photo is 365_001.jpg while December 31st's photo is 365_365.jpg. Now that all my photos are chronologically labeled and safely stored in one spot, I plan to make a photo book out of them.
Even if you're not doing a full 365, it helps to have some kind of file organization before you begin.
4. Create a set in Flickr for your project:
We'll be sharing our photos in the "Project 2011" group on Flickr but within your own profile, you can create a "set" to store your project photos. It is a wonderful way to have visual motivation of your progress. I refer back to my 365 set all the time and look in awe at the time passing. That is my biggest payoff and a huge part of what keeps me going.
5. Figure out a schedule that works for you:
A 365 is pretty easy--shoot every single day. Period. It is the posting that becomes significantly trickier. For the better part of the year, I posted my photos roughly once a week but from September through December it has been closer to once a month. Trust me, once a week is DEFINITELY the way to go. It is a huge headache when you leave the posting go for a long time and have to play catch up. If 365 is your goal, try to keep motivated with your posting or it will be far too tempting to quit altogether.
52 is a little trickier for me to work my head around. I looked at the calendar and have decided that my own personal schedule will follow like this. January 1 - January 7 is my first "week" to take a photo. I will post my final selection on January 8 (a Saturday.) There are 51 Saturdays following that date, so that will be the cycle I'm going to attempt to follow. (Saturday through Friday, shoot pictures. Post final edited photo on Saturday of the next cycle.)
If you aren't forcing yourself into a 365 or 52, try to set a goal of just how often you want to be shooting. Have a plan or a schedule in place or it will be very easy to give it up altogether. Even if you break your own schedule now and again, at least you'll know what the general plan is and it will be easier to jump on that horse!
6. Let me know how I can help!
I'm the crazy lady that talked you into all of this, let me know how I can help you! If you have questions, need inspiration, or are confused about anything, leave me a comment or send me an email and I'll help however I can. Once our project really gets going, you may find more conversation happening over on Flickr than here on the blog but if it is a big enough question, I'll post here to share with everyone.
I've got 5 more photos to take for my 2010 project and then I can't wait to jump in on 2011. Looking forward to doing it with you!