The real trouble with photography is doing it often enough.  When it’s a hobby or a side profession, it is all too easy for the day job to get in the way, to eat up all your time and energy, so that when you finally get home and have the chance to grab the camera, you don’t.  This makes some of us dream of quitting the day job and taking up photography as a full-time bread winner.  Although if you listen closely to the working-pros, you hear that they have the same problem – too much business work and not enough camera time.

What’s the solution?  Damned if I know.  Not even sure that there is one.  But if you’re just have to do something, if a partial solution is better than no solution at all, then I suspect you could do a lot worse than a “photo a day” sort of project.

The rules and format for these sort of projects vary because of their personal nature.  Darwin Wiggett, who I mentioned in a previous post, calls his the “Daily Click” and posts them to his blog.  A friend of mine used to do “Photo Fridays.”  Two friends living on opposite coasts would start each morning by both posting a photo, a collaborative effort that led to a neat little book (their current project is 3191 Miles Apart).  And professional photographer Jim Brandenburg challenged himself to take a single photo each day for an entire season, leading to the excellent book Chased by the Light.

Sunset out the back window

I’ve seen photographers do photo a day projects that lasted only a month; 30 days of self-portraits, 30 days out the back door, 30 days of their shoes.  But whatever the length or theme, these self-assigned projects are out there.

For a long time I scoffed at the notion of a photo a day project, mainly because so many of them fail.  Life happens, you get tired or busy or sick, and you miss a photo.  And then you miss another.  Pretty soon the project is dead and you’ve given up altogether.  It’s got failure stamped all over it – especially if you were sharing your progress online.

But lately I’ve been rethinking that.  Trapped mid-winter, getting home just before sunset, my only chance for photography has been the weekends, and even those are subject to scheduling and weather.  I’m longing to do more shooting – it’s an actual need in my life.

Maybe it’s time to go back to basics, to get really simple with this.  Take a page out of the 3191 project’s book and shoot something simple each day.  Look for lighting and patterns, shapes and geometry – all those elements that we try to find together in our compositions.

And don’t kill myself over the rules.  It’s a photo a day, but if you miss a day (or a couple), it isn’t the end of the world.  The project is for me, not anyone else.  If it ends up being a photo a week for a while, oh well.  The goal is twofold: to work the craft and hopefully learn something along the way, and to get myself though the winter without photography withdrawal.

Brent Pennington is a freelance photographer and the driving force behind The Roving Photographer. When he\’s not working with portraiture or promotional clients, he’s usually in the field, hiking, or kayaking in pursuit of nature and wildlife shots.

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