Project 365: I finally bought in.
For those not familiar with the concept, Project 365 is an endeavor where one photograph is taken every day for an entire year. I've participated in a similar writing endeavor a few years back when I wrote a paragraph of appreciation every day for an entire year, and there are many reasons why I decided that this would be a great challenge to take on from a photography standpoint.
When I'm constantly engaged, it's hard to become rusty.
Whether it's working out, music, writing, or photography, when one is constantly engaged, it's easy to keep one's chops up, so to speak. To give an example, as a drummer, I was sorely disappointed when I sat behind my kit the other day after not playing for about six months. My speed was low(er) and I lacked the synchronicity I used to maintain, whereas I used to be able to make my hands and feet flow together effortlessly. From a photography standpoint, I'd like to circumvent any stagnation during the slow periods where the photo sessions are few and far between. Granted, I sometimes get to have the "why do you bring your camera everywhere" conversation, but having understanding people in my environment is helpful in that regard.
The photo bank is being constantly replenished.
In my hard drive, I have my folder(s) of miscellaneous images, such as shots of mountains, flowers, buildings, and other images that don't fall into a "photo session" category, and these are photos that I love to use when mixing it up, giving myself different images to display. Sometimes, if I want to use an image for Trivia Thursday or some other reason, I may find myself digging for images that are of interest. When I have this daily flow of new images coming in, it gives me a heck of a lot more to draw from and potential portfolio images are always there.
I discover new things about my camera.
I like to think that, besides the exposure settings (ISO, aperture, and shutter speed), that I know my camera really well. As a full-frame camera body, there are a ton of settings on it, some of which I never touch. When I start scrolling through the menu options and play with things like copyright information, HDR settings, or exposure presets, it makes me excited to see that these tools can help me generate what my mind's eye sees.
I keep my "brand new eyes" on all the time.
When I'm preparing for a photo session with a couple or a family, I usually have my poses that I'd like to see when photographing other people. However, when I have subjects that I can't manipulate, such as buildings, landscapes, or other very large objects, I'm forced to look at them in a way that I haven't looked at them before. Rather than looking at a statue or monument head-on, I try looking at it closely (literally 6-12 inches away), from the ground up, or from behind another object, such as a tree or a wall. Being constantly reminded of how big the world really is can be very exciting.
Others want to join in.
When I went to the renaissance fair last weekend in Albuquerque, I was looking for that one shot that I could use for my Project 365 folder. I was there around opening time and the field had not yet been inundated by people like me with DSLRs and telephotos. While walking around, I got to meet a few people that were proactively asking me to take their picture, providing opportunities to network and swap business cards. By the end of the day, it wasn't only one shot that I used, but a composite of five different exposures that ended up being the day's result. I like to tell stories with my images, and one image wasn't enough to get a sense of what the morning held.
Whether you're an amateur or a professional, a DSLR, point-and-shoot, or iPhone/Android app owner, I invite all photography professionals and enthusiasts to participate in Project 365 at least once. It's a heck of a way to gain some perspective of how much is really going on in the world.