12 Things I’ve Learned by Starting a 365 Project, and How You Can Help Sponsor it!

Some photographers and other artists do something called a 365 project wherein they commit to doing their art every day for a year. I decided I wanted to try to do one with more severe limits than most photographers place on themselves in that for mine, I’m only doing one shot a day using a film camera. Most of the digital folks may do a few or a hundred shots and then edit and post the “best” one before the day is up. For mine, I’m taking one and only one (for the project) each day for the month on a 36-frame roll of film. I will be shooting some extra shots on the roll to finish the roll out, but, the extra shots can’t be in the project. Another rule: I plan to publish all the photos. Good and bad. I don’t plan to widely publish the photos until the project is done. More about that later! Here are the 12 thing’s I’ve learned at 65 days into the project:

1) When you see a shot, take it. Another better shot later in the day might not happen. The light could go south really fast.
2) Don’t necessarily take the first shot you see. The light might be better later. Yes, the conflict with one creates some tension that’s hard to resolve.
3) The weather man (or app) is a straight up liar. Just because it says it will be clear later, doesn’t mean it will be clear later. Also, just because it’s cloudy now doesn’t mean it’ll be the same later today, even if the predicted weather is cloudy and rain all day.
4) Flexibility is important. If I’m heading out to get one thing, sometimes I’ll see something else on the way to the first thing that makes me follow rule one, instead of rule 2.
5) Not all the shots are going to work. This is something I knew from the last rule and from general photography experience. However, because it’s natural not to want to post crappy photos, it’s making me consider every shot before I click the shutter. I have done some experiments so far. Some worked. Some, not so much.
6) Sending film out for development is fraught with tension! Will it make it through the mail? Will it be processed without issues? When I’m sending out the film, I’m sending out a month of work and thought. Losing control is stressful!
7) Committing to a project is an interesting experience. I know I have to do a photo every day, so, I can’t just blow off doing a shot just because it’s raining, or cold, or I’m just not feeling it in general. The project is just something I do. Momentum is a good thing.
8) Mixing it up is a real challenge. I can’t take the same photo every day. Dover is a small town and area. I do plan to be in the same areas multiple times to see changes over time and season. So, it’s another artistic tension. There are a lot of easy shots that I’ve mostly done. Now I need to dig deeper… Which is kind of the point.
9) Taking notes each day helps document my shots as I’m doing the project. It also keeps me honest when it’s time to see the results. The “extras” can’t be in the project by mistake… I’m finding that the “extras” are pretty good. I have to really want to take the photo in order to do an extra shot since I’m limited to about 5 a month, max. (36 shots minus 31 days =5 extras for most months)
10) Being on the constant lookout for shots means I’m seeing more, and planning more. That’s bleeding over into my life and into my other photography. I’m learning to “see” more.
11) Doing a 365 project that involves walking around town means I get some exercise, which is a much less boring thing than to just walk with no purpose!
12) Asking for support for the project is helping make it happen. I posted on Face book about looking for sponsors for each month’s photo developing and scanning. I suggested that I was thinking about asking for sponsors willing to pay $40 up front and they would get an 8×10 signed photo from their month. I asked if it was crazy and what did folks think. I had several step up and say they’d sponsor a month and others saying they might not want to do a whole month, but sponsor in another way. It’s hard to express how heart warming it is to have folks interested in supporting me buy buying a pig in a poke. No real way of knowing what they were getting, but willing to put up money anyways. Sponsors will be the only ones to see the project before the general public! I don’t plan on posting any of the photos online until the project is done!

Here’s what I’ve come up with for the sponsorships!
Sponsors can pick a month that hasn’t already been picked for $40. In return they get a signed 8.5×11 print (smaller image size) of a photo from that month. This is darn near my cost for the month’s film, developing, printing and mailing a signed print! Sweet deal! To secure their month, I’ll need payment in advance. Only one sponsor a month can do the 8×10 option.
Sponsors at $25 for any particular month can get a signed 5×7 print with the 4×6 image in it. Sponsors can also do a monthly support of $5 and I’ll send them a post card of my choice from each month. At $1 a month ($12 at one go please) I’ll send out 3 post cards for the year. At the 5×7 and post card levels, there can be more than one sponsor for each month. Sponsors at all levels will get a mention on a page I’ll set up for the project!
If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear them!
Let me know what you think of the sponsorship idea, and if you want to get involved! If I need to, I’ll set up a Patreon account, but for now, I’m going to try to do the Paypal billing myself. We’ll see how that goes!

I need to be upfront with at least a few risks to the project. Not every photo is going to come out. It’s possible that an entire month’s film will be lost in the mail or damaged in processing. (My lab recently had a 5 roll mishap, the first one I’ve experienced!) If some disaster happens, we’ll figure it out… Maybe something from another month or some other photos of mine… I dunno. We’ll burn that bridge when we get to it!

One thought on “12 Things I’ve Learned by Starting a 365 Project, and How You Can Help Sponsor it!”

  1. Awesome project Dave ! Fun, creativity, learning… exercise. What more could you ask for 😉 Wish you well with your sponsors, so wish I could 😉
    In awe of a 365 commitment!! Enjoy 🙂

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