When I turned 28, I decided to start a project where I would take a photograph every day until I turned 29. It was in part inspired by my friend Scott who had done a similar thing one year, and I felt it would be a great way to get me using my camera more regularly. At the time, I was in my first year of studying photography at college, and as much as I was enjoying it, I felt I really had to push myself into familiarising myself with my camera.
Not long after I began the project though, I realised it was something a lot more that simply taking and uploading a photograph every day. There was a great deal of room for experimentation, with regard to both taking and editing photographs. I used this project to try out different ways of looking at a subject, and this wasn’t always a success (especially with a lot of the editing I was experimenting with!). There was also a fair amount of times that I had to intentionally go out of my comfort zone, or try to make my daily photo something completely different from what I was doing. If I had a model in the studio, for example, as well as getting the shots that we needed for our portfolios, I would also try different angles or lighting that was a bit more unusual for my project shot. Sometimes this had terrible results, I’m not going to lie, but every now and then I’d make an image that I still use in my portfolio to this day.
To look back on it now is really strange. I both really want to start up another daily photo project again desperately, but I also remember how challenging it could be – especially in the days where I wasn’t in the mood or simply wasn’t feeling creative. As hard as these days were, though, these were some of the most important. Really pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and seeing something through to the end is what can really make you a great photographer.
As much as I cringe at some of the photographs, I can appreciate that they were from a time where I was (and to an extent I still am) finding my feet in a big way. I can forgive myself for every pink wash in the editing and for every poorly zoomed flash, because the entire purpose of this project was to allow myself a stage in which I could experiment and discover what my “signature” to my photography was.
If I’m to give one piece of advice to anyone looking to improve their photography, it’s always to “go out and shoot more”. Daily photography projects aren’t for everyone, but give yourself something to focus on that has an end goal, and most importantly allows you to try things that usually you wouldn’t. You might find that those situations give your photography a new lease of life!
Maybe I will return to do another daily photograph project soon. I really feel my actual shooting is becoming secondary to running the “business” side of photography and I’ve never really wanted that to be the case. There’s always time to do both!
All 365 photographs from the project can be found over at 28 – A Project by Neil Jarvie.