Why a photo-a-day project lifts your soul and your photography skills…

This is an unusally long blog so you might want to grab a cuppa before you continue reading 🙂

I’m sure you’ve heard people talking about either; starting, attempting, failing or sometimes successfully completing a photo-a-day (‘APAD’) project. I’ve been in each of the aforementioned categories. I’ve talked about it. I’ve started one. I’ve failed at more than one. I’ve successfully completed several.

There are many reasons to consider APAD project. It’s a great way to record a special time or period in your life; it’s a great way to find motivation and inspiration from the ordinary subjects around you and it’s a great excuse to pick up your camera and shoot a subject of your choice.

The first couple of times I attempted APAD I failed and really beat myself up about it. I mean, I’m a photographer, how hard can it be to take a single photo a day of absolutely anything? Well it turns out it is more difficult that you first imagine! Of course I told myself I had good excuses… There were days I was too exhausted after working all day, getting kids organised and completing the necessary housework to even want to pick up my camera and then there were days I would crawl into bed having completely forgotten I was doing APAD project.

I realised I was setting the bar too high. It was unrealistic of me to think I could tackle APAD for a whole year (365 days straight felt like such a long time) however if you break it down into bite size pieces: ‘I’m going to take APAD for the month of July…’ it was no problem at all. I’ve successfully recorded several months in a row by doing just that. I literally live by the mantra ‘one day at a time’. That way I wasn’t thinking about the big picture, I was making each day count.

My top tip for APAD success is to take a photo with whatever camera you have on you at the time. In June 2012 my APAD was taken solely on my iPhone, in July 2012 it was a combination of my Canon DSLR, a Lumix point-n-shoot and my iPhone.

August 2012 was the game changer for my APAD project: I purchased the new Canon 1DX and the 100mm f2.8L lens and set myself the challenge of APAD for the remainder of 2012. On average I missed just 1 photo a month to the end of December.

How did I stay motivated? I would set myself mini-challenges each week. I remember creating crazy themes such as; in my kitchen; textures; flowers; children’s toys; bathroom; self portraits, to name just a few. My goal was simple, find the light, create something extraordinary out of the ordinary. I pushed myself photographically in those 5 months, ‘finding the light’ first and foremost, getting to know my camera even better than before and dialling in the correct settings to create the image I had in mind. I fell in love with high ISO’s and I discovered how superb the world looks through a macro lens. Even on days when I felt like the whole world was against me and nothing was going well, I could pick up my camera, lose myself in looking for a subject and create an image that represented some part of my life or life experience.

Some days I literally only shot 2 frames. You may think that’s not putting in much of an effort but the truth is those 2 frames proved I could get the shot I was after the first time I dialled in the settings. I usually took a 2nd frame with drastic exposure changes simply to have as a comparison. Honestly, the less images I shot the better I felt.

My favourite APAD month to date was February 2013. January each year is always topsy-turvy for me so I’d set myself APAD challenge for February to get my mojo back. Little did I know, when I set myself the challenge, February was going to be a mighty month, both personally and professionally and it was well worth documenting.

Every time I look at these photos I remember exactly what happened on that day, where I was, what I was feeling and why I chose that subject to photograph.

My next APAD project is July 2013 as it is both my husband and my birthdays and I know it’s going to be a month worth recording.

I’d love for you to join me and start your own APAD in July. I encourage you to contact me for motivation, inspiration and a little push when you need it. I’ll load my images on my Live In Love Photography Facebook page each day and I’ll write about the challenge at the end of the project.

I promise you that taking 5 minutes for yourself each day to capture a small part of your life to share with the world (even if it’s just my little world) will be good for your soul! What are you waiting for, pick up your camera/phone/recording device and take a photo today 🙂

Below is the collage of images from APAD February 2013. Details on each of the images can be found here.

Live. Love. Learn.

Dream Big
Sheryn Ellis
Portrait Photographer

A photo a day