Improving Your 365 Project

Why Picking a Theme Can Help You With Your 365 Photography Project

This article was original published on March 1st of 2016 on tookapic.

I started my tookapic challenge on January 1st 2015 and I now have more than 580 daily photos.

When I first started my daily challenge I had a specific project in mind. I wanted to do a project called `Rainbow`. Essentially — take a picture everyday, but in a different colour each day. The end goal was to have a rainbow of photographs.

The structure was as followed:

  • Monday — Yellow
  • Tuesday — Pink
  • Wednesday — Green
  • Thursday — Orange
  • Friday — Blue
  • Saturday — Purple
  • and Sunday — Red

Sadly, photographer’s block got to me and I quickly ran out of ideas. Certain colours became harder to find and I usually felt pressured to take a daily picture. It became something I dreaded and not the fun project I signed up for.

My photography was quickly declining and instead of growing, my photos turned into garbage. I felt ashamed of my progress and I didn’t want to continue the project. I lost interest and instead of moving forward by dropping the theme, I gave up on tookapic. I still wanted to continue my daily pictures, just not on tookapic. I gave up; that was my first obstacle.

So why am I telling you this story ? It doesn’t sound encouraging. Who would want to start a themed project if my first attempt failed ? Well, the trick is flexibility and I learned that the hard way.

Not the End Yet Though

In March I restarted my project on tookapic and I vowed to have a different outlook on the project. I found a happy medium between themes and daily picture taken. I started to find the success in themes in correlation with photography growth. To find continued happiness in my daily pictures I had to do smaller less forced themed projects.

I told myself that once I got bored or ran out of ideas, that I would stop and move on. Since the initial theme that sparked my tookapic challenge, I have done quite a few consecutive themes.

Cassette theme

This one started when I was walking along the bridge near my work. I spotted the broken cassette on the rail road tracks. Right then and there I decided to take the cassette with me, and photograph it in different locations. My favourite photograph from that series was “Senpai Notice Me” because I found the graffiti cheeky. I guess you could say the cassette wanted it to be noticed by me.

by Dominique
by Dominique
by Dominique

Pumpkin theme

This one started when I was walking in the grocery store and I decided to buy a cute little pumpkin. At first I just took the pumpkin around and took pictures of it in different locations, but then I started to get creative. I decided my pumpkin was evil and wanted to take over the world.

I think that series did really well. It took Halloween and playfulness to another level. Afterwards, I decided to kill the pumpkin and grow its seeds. That became my next project and boy do pumpkin seeds grow fast and big.

by Dominique
by Dominique
by Dominique

The Take Away

What’s important is that I’m happy with my progress. There are still a lot of garbage photographs — or so called streak pics, but I’m progressing. It pushes me to be creative. The daily struggle can be hard, but the habit is now in place and I reserve some time for picture taking as I do for morning/night routines, school, work and exercise.

I am not the only one that has run a themed project. There are quite a few people here on tookapic doing photo series.

Minimal still life

Started as a streak pic taken due to lack of any other ideas and quickly turned into a minimal series of creative photos. Pawel.

by Paweł Kadysz
by Paweł Kadysz
by Paweł Kadysz

Lego project

Michal recently started a cute series.

He replaces everyday objects with Lego bricks. And the results are simply awesome.

by Michał Kulesza
by Michał Kulesza
by Michał Kulesza

Daily life of D. Vader

Run by Pawel Kadysz. This series was covered by most major media all over the world and did a lot of good for both Pawel and tookapic.

by D. Vader
by D. Vader
by D. Vader

Some tookapic folks have worked with a particular theme for longer than others, and some choose to take a daily photo of whatever catches their eye that day, or a technique that they want to practice, but I don’t think any particular method should be given more merit than another. It’s a hard job no matter how you approach it.

In the end, I’d suggest everyone to step out of their comfort zone and pursue at least one themed project during their year long tookapic project — whether it’s a three day series or a year long series. Once you have already developed the habit of taking a photo every day, you can push yourself and your photography even further by committing to a certain theme that forces you to think creatively.

Try it for at least a week

Tookapic also has weekly themed challenges and it’s a great place to start if you do not have an idea. Pick one there, and go with it — see where it brings you and your photography.