Why I'm Starting a 365 Day Project in 2017

Why I'm Starting a 365 Day Project in 2017

I’ll admit that I’m in a creative rut. And like any photographer that feels frustrated, there’s only one thing to do: go in a different direction. For well over a year I’ve been shooting hardly anything besides studio portraits. While I love that genre and the work that I’ve created in that time, I feel like my work has hit a wall creatively. After watching several photographers and filmmakers doing these a-photo-a-day projects, I decided to give it a go in 2017.


There are a few issues I need to work around for the project to be feasible. Namely, having a camera on me 24/7. Thanks to the new iPhone 7+ and it’s brilliant camera, I know I’ll be able to capture some decent images if I can’t or don’t want to bring my X-Pro2 along. Can you tell which of the images below were shot on the X-Pro2 and which were from the iPhone 7+? Speaking of which, I’ll likely use the X-Pro2 for almost all of it, and for a few reasons. It’s a small, unassuming camera that lets me shoot pretty much anywhere. One of the big pulls that Leica has had on journalists and travel photographers for decades, is the unintimidating look. Nikon and Canon cameras grew to absurd sizes in comparison as the 90’s and 2000’s rolled around. Fortunately, Fuji decided to build a brilliant little Leica-esque camera with DSLR functionality.


Aside from the friendly aesthetic, the Fuji is versatile and the lenses are fantastic. I can shoot in some seriously low-light environments and still get great images with the X-Pro2. The color and dynamic range just doesn't degrade like most cameras. And while I don’t have many lenses, I’ve been blown away by the 35mm f/2 and the 18mm f/2. These two small lenses handle just about everything I do. The whole system fits in a small bag or in a regular backpack with ease. Having the ultra discrete and ubiquitous iPhone, and the powerful, yet stealthy Fuji, I don’t see a problem having a camera to shoot the project with.


These “365” projects are all about using your creative eye constantly and capturing even the most mundane subjects or situations in hopes of developing your skills and creative capability. I won’t be shooting a portrait everyday. I could be bouncing around from landscape, to product, to architecture, to journalism in any given week. That’s the beauty of the project, you’re forced to experiment and shoot everything. While portrait photography and filmmaking are my passions, my end points, and my career aspirations, it all comes down to the quality of the work and I firmly believe that being able to pull from any genre will help dramatically with my work in the future. The images will all end up on my Instagram account so that I can share the project as it progresses and look back through the year.


I strongly encourage everyone to give a 365 project a try. Even if you aren’t in a rut creatively, it’ll help you explore new avenues for your work. I also recommend having some sort of theme to give direction. For instance, I've decided that the final images will be in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio to aid my composition in my short film work, even though I'm shooting a still photography camera. My photography, editing, and filmmaking will all see something from this project. Have you tried a 365 project? I’d love to hear from your experiences.

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Claire Jennings's picture

Thank you for this.
I think I'll join you!

stir photos's picture

I told myself last year that this year I'd give the project a go... We'll see though. I was considering only using a cell phone; although, I like your approach of having a lightweight dslr (or similar) alternative, as well. I've never done one before, so we'll see....

Amber Goetz's picture

This is awesome and totally inspiring! You must do a follow up on Fstoppers :)

Dan Crowther's picture

I did a 52 week project about 6 years ago. While it was great to get me to push into areas I hadn't explored creatively, it also came at a cost. The next year I barely took any photos at all because I was so "spent" creatively I didn't have much interest left.

Mark Bowers's picture

I'm feeling inspired Spencer, definitely something to consider doing for many of the same reasons myself

Chip Kalback's picture

Looking forward to the results Spencer!

Lisa Casey's picture

I take a photo every day at 5:37pm because that's the time I was born, I've been doing this for about 4 years. For a while I was also doing the 365 day thing as well, you are right, it does make you aware of the mundane and some of the best photos are taken. I might have to pick this up again.


Alright, you had my attention at 2.35:1... I failed miserably at my own 52 week project last year stopping 6 weeks in - going to give it another go! Check out my WEEK3, 3rd image down ;) Reminds you of anything?


Martin Witt's picture

I'm just finishing up my 365 for 2016. It was tough, but I made it and only missed one day out of the year so far, and that was due to being on the road for over 12 hours. I used both my iPhone 6 and my Canon 5D. It's a great way to break out of a rut and I highly recommend it.

Reggie Green's picture

the widescreen ratio looks great.

Simon Lachapelle's picture

I'm currently doing one on instagram ( I trully belive this is the best platform to do it) and I can just encourage you and everyone to do one. This made me evolve so much. This is for sure the most creative year of my entire life ! Good luck!

richard adenot's picture

Hey Spencer, where will you post the photos? Instagram?

John Bayler's picture

I did this several years ago. By the end of the year I had really improved as a photographer as also had my eye to see a picture. Since that year I have always shot a picture out of the window from the place I spent the night. Thinking next year I'll do my morning shot plus another one during the day. BTW I've been shooting for over 39 years, always room for improvement, never stop learning.

Lee Roy's picture

I did a 365 project in one day, because that's how talented of photographer I am. And as far as the mirrorless and DSLR debate, who sees a camera as threatening? I point my 5D Mk IV with a battery grip and 70-200 at kittens and children all day long. And if you are in fact in a "rut", buy yourself a 500mm and start taking pictures of birds, talk about exciting.

Kaj Sennelöv's picture

I started a similar project on my Instagram 6 weeks ago. Every day I'm posting one photo (not necessarily taken that day) and every week I change the category. Kind of making different series of each 7 photo's.
Taking one picture every day is definitely putting your creativity to work. Don't know if I could manage that.
Good luck! I'm curious for the result.
Be sure to check my project out: #7aWeek or on mi Instagram (@Kaj)

Phongphanich Limprasutr's picture

Thank you for your encouraging Photo all the whole year of 2017. I heard and saw many people do this in each new year coming. I'll try...my best....to hold my camera everyday...and get the best thing in each day. Thanks again....

Dan Smith's picture

My friend and I did variations of 365s in 2012 (we started with me shooting stills and he shot a few seconds of video, if either missed a day the other got a case of beer), 2014 (we both shot stills and introduced weekly themes), 2015 (a continuation from 2014, but we got less stringent over posting), and I let it fall apart in 2016 (Matt had a kid in late '15, I picked up more work for clients and I didn't post nearly as much).

I'm pumped to get it going again in '17. I've also been missing something that I haven't been able to put my finger on, and I think it may be the lack of creating/thinking artistically daily. The project started at http://photoandfilmaday.tumblr.com/ and eventually became http://www.mattanddanfromnewfoundland.com/about/

Your article reminded me of the fun I had doing the 365, and the artistic and personal benefit.

Brendan Kavanagh's picture

I did this in 2012; in fact that was a leap year so it became a 366.
I succeeded too.
A different shot each day,taken using whatever was most convenient at the time. By the end of the year, I'd shot with three or four mobile phones and several different cameras.
Your biggest enemy will be time. On numerous occasions, I ended up getting the shot for the day at some point during the evening as nothing else had presented itself during the day.
It's a good idea to "see" a number of shots locally or around the house but don't shoot them. Instead, keep them for those days when nothing seems to go right, you haven't found your shot and time's running out.
All the time you've got those images in your head, you'll always have a shot of some kind that you can actually take.
Here's the one from 2012. http://mizzog.deviantart.com/gallery/41969315/Photo-366
The Eagle eyed among you will notice that I didn't begin at the beginning of the year. That was simply because I didn't think of it at the beginning of the year!
You've set me thinking now about perhaps doing it again!

Ibrahim Bassi's picture

Looks like something to consider in the new year too. I think i will join you on this. thanks for the inspiration

Edwin keijzer's picture

I did one back in 2015 https://www.instagram.com/fysiot/ Made it every day, every week i had a new theme did help me not to shoot to basic and to try every week some technique.
shot with fuji xpro1, x100t and iphone on the hard days. It was tough, but still love to look back. Looking forward to see your feed. Good luck. Ps love the widescreen.

Ralph Hightower's picture

I had two projects in 2012: photograph the sunrise over Columbia, SC from the Lake Murray Dam on the solstices and equinoxes, and photograph the full moons of the year. I wouldn't call my New Years Resolution a project, but I would shoot the year of 2012 exclusively with B&W film, C-41 and traditional silver-based.
For the Full Moon project, I used my 80-205mm f4.5 zoom with the B&W contrast filters: yellow, orange, and red, and also my 400 f6.3 lens. For each lens and filter, I bracketed -1, 0, +1.
But I was most creative when I was shooting B&W film exclusively. It was a year to experiment with the B&W contrast filters. It took me about three months before I started visualizing in B&W.
I haven't decided whether to do a 365 or not, but with 3 SLRs, 2 film and 1 digital, I don't know if I should do a 365 with one, or a 1095 will all 3.

EL PIC's picture

Sounds like a good way to get into a rut