I don’t remember the exact date, but sometime before 21st July 2017, I had a realisation.
Despite having this website, I wasn’t really doing much street photography.
There was a steady stream of articles getting written and published, but they would typically contain just three shots from a bigger batch that I’d taken during a full day spent shooting.
However, this was often weeks and sometimes months earlier.
Because these batches would sustain me for quite a few articles, I simply wasn’t shooting as often as I could or should be.
So to get myself out with my camera more, I decided to start a 365 project. That is, shooting and uploading a photograph every day for a year.
I think most people do these over a calendar year, starting from January 1st. This being the summer, I didn’t want to wait six months.
So the #leesixtyfive project started on my birthday – the 21st of July.
Now we’re a month in, I want to reflect on how it’s been going.
Not every photograph has been a masterpiece
That’s the first photograph I uploaded for the #leesixtyfive project.
It’s not one of my favourites, which in some ways is a shame. It’d be nice to have started this thing with a bang.
But one thing I’ve learnt from this first month is that you can’t expect to come back with a masterpiece every time you go out.
Some of the photographs I’ve used for this probably wouldn’t have made it into a normal article on this site.
I won’t say exactly which because I don’t want to sway your opinion of any of them, but you can presume they’ve been left until the end instead of being embedded throughout this piece. 😀
The best and most surprising thing about having a few sub par photographs is that I’ve found myself not really caring.
Of course, you would prefer every shot to be outstanding. Too many bad shots will dilute the whole project. But there’s a balance to be had, and uploading a couple of 6/10 photographs here and there is better than breaking the streak.
The body of work as a whole is what’s important.
Some photographs have been surprisingly good
That sounds egotistical but I can explain.
I wrote an article a while ago explaining how one hour of street photography is enough. The first month of the #leesixtyfive project has reinforced this belief for me.
There have been days where I’ve been very pushed for time, have taken my camera to wherever it was I needed to be, shot scenes that I thought were maybes at most, and have come back very pleasantly surprised with the result.
That ‘twin towers’ photograph up there was taken while travelling around one evening looking at new apartments. I got home later, tired and stressed, wondering if I’d got anything worth using.
Turns out I had.
Other shots needed less than one hour.
They were some days where I knew the first scene I shot had given me a keeper straight away.
The ‘business time’ photograph below is an example of this.
I think shooting every day sharpens your eye. It’s like writing every day, or running every day. You just maintain a level that drops off when you stop.
It feels like shooting every day has helped me assess a scene and get a good photograph more instinctively, which is where the surprise that it is a good photograph comes from.
A project that gets (some) people’s attention
I’ve written before about being wary of social proof with your street photography; about how the number of Instagram likes it gets isn’t a reliable measure of how good (or bad) it is.
I maintain that a single photograph with 100 likes is probably not twice as good as one with 50. It might not even be better at all (with ‘better’ being subjective, of course).
But that’s not to say we can’t use likes as a measure of something else.
If we compare cumulative likes over two periods of time, I think they can at least be an indicator of how many people you’ve reached over those periods.
The 30 days before I started the #leesixtyfive project, I uploaded 13 photographs to Instagram. At the time of writing, they’d got 644 likes, at an average of just over 49 each.
The 30 photographs I’ve uploaded so far for the #leesixtyfive project have garnered 1152 likes at an average of just over 38 each.
I’m not too bothered about those averages. It’s the 644 vs 1152 cumulative likes that are interesting to me.
Discounting potential likes from bots, which Instagram have been busy purging, every like is someone seeing my photograph and being moved to make a small gesture on their phone.
The #leesixtyfive project has seen that number almost double compared to the previous month.
Some people will get 1152 likes on a single photograph, of course. I’m not there, and that’s cool. I’m where I am, and that’s in the middle of a project I’m very excited about continuing to its end.
I guess this is all a convoluted way of saying something kind of obvious: the more stuff you make and put out, the more people will notice what you’re doing.
That’s more people that might remember your name. They might check out some other pictures on your account. They might even go visit your blog.
Failing at the #leesixtyfive project already?
A confession, because I’m an honest person.
The idea of shooting and uploading a photograph every single day for the whole year is great, but I’ve already faltered on sticking to it.
I have uploaded every day, but on a couple of occasions the photograph was taken the previous day.
You can see this in the images above. I didn’t run into that same cleaning lady two days straight.
Some may say this diminishes the project, but I’m okay with it.
I’ve been out with my camera probably 28 days out of the 30. If not for this project, I might have been out with it just once or twice. That alone is a great upside to doing this.
The intention to stick to the format is there, but sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes I go out and come back with nothing worth uploading, and have a good one left over from the previous day. So why not use it?
I’m not uploading photographs from months ago and claiming them to be recent.
Everything uploaded for the project has been shot for the project. Most of them were shot on the day of uploading, with a couple shot at most 1 or 2 days before they were uploaded.
That’s well within my personal parameters.
The future of the #leesixtyfive project
For the first month of this project I’ve just been quietly including a #leesixtyfive hashtag on my Instagram uploads.
I didn’t want to tell anyone about it in case it died after a few days. Now it’s a month in and I’ve written this, I guess I’ve got to keep going for the full year.
I’ve no idea where this project will go over the next 11 months. I don’t know if the style of photograph will stay the same throughout or change.
The plan is just to keep shooting and uploading, and to write an update post like this after every 30 shots.
Then at the end of the year I’ll have 365 photographs taken and 12 blog articles created documenting them, which will be a decent body of work for me. 😀
The final point I want to make here is one of semantics.
I’ve seen people refer to their own #365project as a #365challenge.
That to me makes it sound like a grind. Like something you’re maybe not even enjoying.
That might be exactly what some people need, but I prefer to think of mine as a project.
Then I can view it as something I’m making because I want to and not something I’m forcing myself to do.
If it’s not enjoyable then what’s the point?