Sometimes when I begin to feel overwhelmed by how much I want to do, it feels like I have 2014 items on my to-do list. However, the number in my subject line does refer to the year, and I’m talking about photography projects.
Next year I vow to only take on one photography project. I wanted to do so many of them this year that none of them are getting enough of my attention and even though I’m not doing any of them as well as I’d like, I can’t bear to drop any of them. They’re all so interesting and all have helped me grow in one way or another.
Project Visual Toolbox is a study of David DuChemin’s book The Visual Toolbox which is a series of 50 short chapters, each describing a photography concept. With assignments at the end of each chapter it is well-suited to a group study, which is what we’re doing with it. We read a new chapter every Sunday and will finish in December. We have a forum on Clickinmoms, which unfortunately isn’t active at all, and a Facebook group of 412 members, most of whom, fortunately, do not post. We’ve also had a Google Hangout live chat with David DuChemin himself. I really like the structure of this group study and the lessons in the book have been helpful. It seems like few have been able to focus on it consistently though, so there’s not very much discussion going on anymore. At the beginning of the year I intended this to be my top priority photography project and was surprised when it slowly dwindled nearly to lowest priority. I don’t want to give it up though because I think the lessons have been very helpful.
As 2013 drew to a close, Project 52 was the project I knew for sure I wanted to continue, and I hoped to do it as a blog circle. My 2013 Project 52 blog circle was my most successful photography project last year, at least in terms of consistency. I like how blog circles help us keep our blogs active too. So when Jessica of Clickinmoms suggested a Project 52 for 2014 I jumped in. It was decided to keep it on Clickinmoms, which disappointed me at first, but by the end of 2013 I decided that I wanted to be more active on Clickinmoms anyway so this was good.
And it turned out to be fabulous. Jessica is being very methodical and creative with the weekly themes and every Tuesday or Wednesday she posts a long explanation. There is a lot of participation on the forum and I have been posting my Project 52 pictures there and on my blog every week until a couple of weeks ago.
Several weeks after 2014 began, a few of us decided to create a blog circle using the Project 52 themes and we formed a Facebook group for communicating behind the scenes. I was so excited to be doing a Project 52 blog circle again, since that went so well last year, and I like the reminder to post on my blog. Unfortunately, only 2 or 3 of us were keeping up with it consistently and it fell apart a couple of weeks ago. I intended to continue on my own but I think a combination of busy weeks and tricky themes were my downfall.
I do participate in another blog circle that seems to be keeping up, but it’s only monthly so that’s not really keeping my blog active. We’re doing the Monthly Creative Exercises that are posted mid-month at Clickinmoms. These exercises are even more awesome than the Project 52 themes (which are very awesome)! I just find it hard to keep a monthly theme in mind, no matter how many times I write it down on my desk calendar. With such a time frame it’s easy to put it off and put it off, and then suddenly it’s the end of the month and we scramble to do something quickly.
Finally, there’s my Project 365. What a journey that has been! Let me go way back. I guess I feel like writing today. Probably because I should be doing some housework. 😀
I discovered Project 365 at the very beginning of 2009 and I consider myself to have been doing it ever since. But the motivation varied over the years. In 2009 I was shooting only with a little Sony point and shoot camera. I had begun to think about improving my photos, since I’d been taking thousands of them over the years of my kids (born in 2001, 2003, and 2006). But I was a scrapbooker first. I learned about Project 365 at a scrapbooking forum and I took my very first photography class in another scrapbooking forum. My motivation for the project in 2009 was to record each week’s activities and I digitally scrapbooked a two page spread every week with one photo for each day.
In mid-2010 I bought my first DSLR after watching John Greengo’s Fundamentals of Digital Photography at CreativeLIVE, but I continued with the same motivation for my Project 365 and my scrapbooks for those two years look very similar.
After joining Clickinmoms at the end of 2010, I became discouraged with photography and I spent most of 2011 focusing on scrapbooking. I even joined some designers’ teams. My 2011 Project 365 is confusing. I switched to an idea of Project 52 for scrapping my memories, and though I said I was still doing Project 365, I have more days unphotographed in 2011 than any other year since I began the project.
In 2012, my Project 365 picked up again as I began to switch to a photography-growth focus. I realized that if I wanted my photography to improve I must practice daily. I started taking classes and putting more time into reading tutorials and so on. However, I still missed photographing many days and spent a lot of time on scrapbooking (though by mid-2012 I’d dropped all my designer team responsibilities in favor of focusing on photography). I decided in 2012 that my Project 365 meant that I at least studied photography every day, even if I didn’t actually take any pictures. And I did spend a lot of time reading!
In 2013 I did so well focusing on photography that my scrapbooking suffered. That’s still the case and I really miss it. However, my photography has definitely been improving, and I haven’t given up on getting back into regular scrapbooking. I still missed photographing a lot of days in 2013, but generally carried my camera everywhere and this year got very involved in photography groups. Besides what I mentioned already above, I participated in Facebook groups of students for study along classes at Clickinmoms and some other spin-off photography groups. Some lasted a short time; some are still active today.
This year my Project 365 is wholly focused on photography and it’s the most consistent one I’ve done since those first two years when the focus was scrapbooking memories. So far I’ve missed one day in January and two days this month only. And I just picked a few photos from nearby days to fill in. You can see all my 2014 Project 365 photos in this gallery.
This is also the first year I’ve participated in a Project 365 group, but it took some time to find one that that works for me. I was in one last year but at the beginning I found it too busy to keep up and I still hadn’t established a routine for daily posting, so I gave up. I didn’t leave the group though, so when I dropped in occasionally I saw how others were growing and was inspired. Also the group moderator was posting theme suggestions and it just seemed to be going so well I regretted giving up. So at the end of the year when a few suggested continuing on in a new group I jumped over there. I thought the first group would be closing. However, the new group didn’t take off and the old group seemed to be continuing to be active, so I switched back. But I felt like my posts were never noticed. Then I found a new group forming in April and decided to join them.
I love my new Project 365 group because it’s just active enough without being overwhelming and, best of all, we are really discussing our photos. No one is afraid of constructive criticism. We all could get over belittling our ability to critique a bit more, but that’s always a challenge. Actually, time is the biggest challenge. I wish I could spend more time studying the photos my Project 365 partners post in our Facebook group.
At the beginning of the year I thought Project 365 was going to be my lowest priority, but it has turned out to be my most successful. To become good at something we really do need to practice as often as possible. And with an awesome P365 group as I’ve found, I can’t drop that project either.
But, as you can see, I didn’t know at the end of last year, when I was choosing my projects, which one would be the best. So I’m a bit worried the same will be true when I’m deciding which project will be my focus in 2015. Will there be another weekly study of a book that I could benefit from that might, hopefully, continue to be active all year? Or should I go with a daily practice project because I’ve seen that it’s easier to keep up with a project that repeats more frequently?
I have been thinking of combining projects. For instance, I could be shooting daily with this week’s and this month’s themes in mind. Well, I’d better grab some recent photos for this post, since this is, after all, a photography blog, and then I need to get moving on my day.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about photography projects. Please leave a comment!