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+44 7855 742 633

London based professional interior and architectural photographer.

Photography Blog

James Tarry's photography blog. Ramblings from a photographers over active mind. Email now or call +44 (0)7855 742 633.

The "365 Challenge": Good or bad idea?

james tarry

I write this 30,000 feet in the air on the way to France in a packed BA plane, on my iPhone so please excuse the grammar or slightly all over the place thought process...... But I wanted to write this while it was fresh in my head!

The 365 challenge.

It's the start of a New Year and the start of the 365 Challenge. If you haven't heard of it before, it is a challenge to shoot and share a photograph a day for 365 days. Easy right? I mean, we've all mostly got cameras and if not cameras, phones with cameras, how hard can it be? Well, every year I see photographers start them and every year they drop like flies.

I like the concept; it's a way of encouraging people to take their camera out every day and shoot, think about what they are shooting and be part of a "project" of sorts. Can't argue with that. So why do many " fail" ?

Well, from my perspective as a photographer who shoots pretty much every day, week in week and month on month, it's difficult and tiring for starters. I genuinely don't think people understand this, the perception being it's easy to walk around and take photos in-between all the coffee stops.

On a typical days work I can shoot 200+ exposures, this then gets whittled down to approx 70 shots in total, those then get edited and some deleted, I probably end up with 10-15 shots per shoot per client per day (obviously this differs according to size of job/bookings etc) and that's not including any Stock work or personal projects..... Or weekends. By the end of the year I'm beat up, tired. Heck I haven't shot a project photo since end of last September for this reason, photographing consistently daily is hard work.

So how many photos in a month do I share? Or more importantly, how many make my portfolio?
The answer to that is very few, Off the top of my head I think I might've added less than 5 shots to my work portfolio in the whole of last year. I shot a shoebox load of film for the Abstract Architecture project last year and I'm constantly cutting that down. I've not shared much because I've been shooting rubbish images, it's because I "curate" myself. 12 wonderful photos will always be better than 100 photos containing 20 greats, 30 "ok's" and 50 fillers for example. Even the most fantastic photographers throughout history might not make 10 "greats" in a year.

So a photo a day for 365 days is hard and I think by month 2 or 3 most come to realise that. You work, you've forgotten your shot, "urgggghh". All you want to do is go home order a pizza and drink a beer in front of the TV, but nope you've "got to" take a photo a day, what do you do? Go out seek that "cool" shot or do what most do, take a selfie, snap a coffee....... photograph that pizza? Yep, that's (largely) what seems to happen and sure enough In 4 months you've taken a handful of photos you really like and days and days of stuff you really wouldn't want to share let alone keep. That's when it kicks in, Quality over quantity always wins and forced creativity is never the answer.

I've obviously used myself as an example and it's possibly the extreme because most people don't shoot that much per day and not everyone has photography as a job. I get that. I don't think 365's are a straight out "bad idea" I just think they need very careful consideration. Try and set a theme that's achievable. The best I've seen this year is by photographer Matt Day who is shooting his new family with Instant film, being Instant there is a physical product and he'll get a book of his families life in that year..... I like that. There are alternatives: the 52 week project is one of these, takes the pressure off, allows you to have time to think more about the photos, or a 12 month challenge? Keep it nice and tight really execute a project that will reflect well?

For me, we live in an age where we over share and take photos almost every second and there is an argument among many that standards have dipped due to it, and I think (personally) the 365 Challenge adds to that. I love photography and adore looking at others work so from a viewers point of view I'd rather see one photo every now and then that I love over a shot of something "phoned in" from someone I know can do better; I think that's why the 365 Challenge is a real challenge. 


Sent from my iPhone

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