365 Challenge

I’ve been thinking for some time about doing a 365 challenge but for various reasons have never got round to it. The usual reasoning (in my mind) is that I’ve wanted to start on the 1st January and do it for a whole year. And so it never seems to have happened.

Recently, I came across the work of Erik Witsoe who is capturing some gorgeous photos. And he has done a couple of 365 projects which started whenever he wanted during the year (See here for some loveliness). Which got me thinking that actually, it doesn’t need to start in January. I can do it whenever I please. After all, surely the very essence of a 365 project is to be doing it for yourself?

So, I decided that the 1st March was to be my start date. Which is tomorrow.

A couple of people have said to me that I take a lot of photos anyway, so why is this challenge? Which is a good question.

I think I want to use this exercise to focus my work a bit more. I want to be able to give a sense of story in one photo. I look at a lot of photography that is classed as ‘street photography’ and there is a saturation of shots which just show people on the street walking or standing about which don’t seem to have any aim. No context, no feeling of back story, sometimes not even interesting composition. I’m not saying my photos to date are giving Cartier-Bresson a run for his money, but I do strive to have something interesting within my shots.

But as with anything in life, I want to get better at it.

At first I thought I’d really try and restrict myself. I was thinking of having one film camera dedicated to the project where I could take only one shot on it per day. But even though that would probably get me better in some areas, I do still want to get some really good shots that I’m proud of! And if I’m restricting myself to just one shot then I can envisage getting a bit frustrated after a while, which is not the point of the project for me.

So I came up with some very simple rules for myself that should give the project focus and consistency without being too restrictive:

Firstly, I’m going to shoot all of it in monochrome.
Secondly, they all have to have someone in shot that is important to the photo.

Those are my only restrictions. I was wanting to add a third rule that the photo has to suggest some kind of story. But over the duration of a year, I’m not sure if that is possible. There are going to be days when the things I encounter out in the world don’t lend itself to suggesting a story.

So, just the two rules. And what I want to get out of it at the end is a sense of structure, some strong storytelling, and a lastng document of a whole year. Furthermore, I want to see that I have got more confident in getting in closer and more personal with subjects.

I’m quite excited but also slightly nervous, which is a good way to be with something like this.

Oh, and next year is a leap year. So it’s actually going to be 366 photos. D’oh!

(Flickr link to follow)