Who Has Time To Take a Daily Photo

Interview with Thaddeus Miles, FINISHER of Project 365 in 2012.
His story and images pack a punch. Take a look!

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Why did you take on the 365 project in the first place?

On the night of January 1, 2012, I was searching the internet for articles on ways to improve my photography and I came across your 365 project website. My first thought was “…damn who has the time to take and/or post a photo EVERY day in 2012″? I then decided to at LEAST read the guidelines and look at the photos from the previous year participants. What I experienced when reviewing the 365-project photographs of 2011 was a tremendous amount of respect, appreciation and awe for the creativity and discipline of the photographers. [Read more…]

Use a 365 Photo Project to Get Motivated

Featured Photographer Carrie Stadelman shares her inspiration for embarking on her first 365 challenge in 2012!

I started the 365 project to get some motivation…

After months of being stressed and overworked from the summer and fall (not to mention being pregnant), doing photography everyday was the last thing on my mind. However, I am a forever student. I don’t believe in settling and am always striving to make myself a better artist.

You can always learn something, even if you feel you know it all. So I thought this project was the perfect way to do that.

My goal is to try something new each day, something that I have been dying to learn or just something simple that I need to improve on to make my work more consistent. (Can we say White Balance?).

I want to try a new technique, new lighting style, new photoshop trick; just anything and everything that will help me move to the next level.

I know myself pretty well, and my biggest fear is that I will set my goals too high and not be able to reach them. I tend to jump into things feet first with the best of intentions and don’t always come up for air, and therefore drown. I want to prove to myself that I can do this, and will!

My hope is that I can continue this journey all year and see a much needed improvement in myself as an artist, my photographic style and my business as a whole.

Create a Photography Workflow That Works

Featured photographer Ingrid Williams talks about her second 365 challenge, what’s changed and how to create a workflow that works!

I remember sitting in the kitchen listening to another podcast of F-stop beyond. Tasra was the guest speaker and she was talking about the 365 challenge photographer Scott Borne had issued. I was intrigued and as I listened I realized this was not just a “take a picture a day challenge.” In addition to taking a picture a day, you also had to read a few pages from your manual and view other professional photographers’ images daily.

Well viewing other photographers images would be pretty easy, but reading my manual? I remember thinking “does anyone really read their manuals?” I’ve skim through the pages of my manual, but I never actually read it cover to cover.

Tasra declared that doing these three actions daily would improve your photography by 300%. One month later I signed on. One year later I ask myself “Did my photography improve by 300%?” The answer is yes. In those 365 days I learned so much about my camera and my photography.

Each day I learn how to use my camera’s features more effectively. By viewing other photographers work, I learn more about lighting techniques( direction, angles, diffusion, exposure) composition (paying attention to, leading lines, distractions, S curves…) and vision (Visualizing the image before I snap the shutter, staying present and maintaining focus).

Fast forward a year and a half later and I’m doing 365 Project 2012. And I’m also still doing my own a 52 week challenge that I started before I found out about Tasra’s. This time around I hope to really take my photography to the next level.

My goal is to compete in a several photo contests and have my work displayed in a few exhibits. For 365 Project 2012 one activity changed. Instead of reading my manual daily, I have to shoot at least one series a month. This is a great goal for me because It will help me produce a series of work for an exhibit. However, I do have one small obstacle that may slow me down this time around – -I’m working full time. I wasn’t working when I did the first challenge so I was able to go out anytime to take photos. This time around I have to have to organize my days do that I can get out and shoot. I think I’m up to the challenge.

My advice to all first time 365er’s…

Just do it.

A year seems like a long time, but it will be worth it.

Read, Practice, Repeat (RPR)

I read my camera manual 4 times during 365, After the fourth time, I read 1 or 2 pages from the manual and started reading other photography articles from the web, books and magazine. Many of the articles were written by the photographer whose work I was viewing. Many of the articles were tips and techniques that I could put into practice.

Develop a workflow.

I use Lightroom 2 for post processing but this workflow can also be applied to Photoshop. Having a workflow helps me stay organized and reduce my processing time. I created presets for exporting, printing and basic processing. The latter comes in handy when you need to process several images that are similar. Below is my workflow in a nut shell:

My Workflow

  1. Upload images via Lightroom to the first hard drive.
  2. Lightroom makes a copy to the second drive.
  3. Go through images and reject the bad ones and flag the ones I want to process.
  4. Delete the rejects via the Lightroom menu.
  5. Create a collection of the images I flagged.
  6. From the collection, process the ones I want to print or post.
  7. Make a copy of the ones I print/post to the second drive.
  8. Backup the second hard drive weekly to an external drive. In addition to my images, I also back up my presets, catalogs and preferences weekly.

Most importantly, have fun.

Featured Ohio Photographer: Project 365 – The Encore with Brian Palmer

From ice fishermen in his backyard to power outages at midnight… fellow tasra365 photographer Brian Palmer is our first featured photographer of 2012. He made it through the first challenge, so you’ll want to read on to find out his secret to success. It’s never too late to join the challenge with over 500 photographers. It’ll change your life forever!

It has been a little over a year since I completed my last 365, and the last thing I remember was my wife saying:

“Thank God that is over! No more late nights of you scrambling for a picture when the power is out.”
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Project 365 Image © Brian Palmer

Advice to all the first time 365’ers…

  • Stay focused and take it one day at a time.
  • You will grow by leaps and bounds if you take the time to challenge yourself to think outside the box.
  • Back up all of your original files, you never know when you may need the large version for a publication.
From start to finish of the project I learned a lot technically and grew creatively. Much of what I experienced helped me to shoot smarter and breakdown difficult lighting situations more effectively. Additionally, I was able to directly translate the majority of the setups I used, during the yearlong adventure, into real shooting situation for hire. One reason I am taking the 365 challenge again is to push myself to make ordinary items stand out on a daily basis.
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Project 365 Image © Brian Palmer

When I started my first challenge late September 2009, there was only about a month and a half before the Snow Belt [aka North East Ohio] started churning. To my surprise, I felt I grew and experienced the most through the six month snow stint. I spent a week learning about ice fishermen in my own backyard, a past-time I have overlooked for years.
The process of looking for your ‘shot of the day’ really makes you slow down and take stock of your surroundings.
Again and again I was reminded to hate those who live in more ‘picturesque’ states than Ohio seems to be. It wasn’t until I became serious about photography that I was able to see all that Ohio had to offer and how to capture it.
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Project 365 Image © Brian Palmer

This time around, I want to shoot more photo series, which is an aspect of the new challenge that intrigues me. A year ago, I took on a few series like vegetables, fruits, smoke and water drops. I would love to revisit the water drops on a larger scale and capture a few drop collisions. Also my daughter, Sara, stole the spot light on several daily photo occasions, but I fear this year the bribe will have to be doubled to get her on board. With that said, I am hoping to photograph more people during the project, as I have plans for the resulting captures this go round.

Project 365 Image © Brian Palmer

365 challenges are a good chance to push forward creatively, but additionally a great opportunity learns all the aspects of your gear, new and old. For instance, I am planning on doing a light test with my new lighting setup. These tests are tedious and time consuming, but necessary as a tool to learn how your lights look and act at different distances, apertures, lens, and angles. The same goes for new camera bodies [I am hoping a Medium Format body joins the group], lenses, and light modifiers.

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Project 365 Image © Brian Palmer

From the outside, this project can seems to be a daunting task, but the days go fast and shooting daily becomes routine.

So much so, that once you have completed the last day it feels odd to not use your camera every day or update your blog on a regular basis. Not to mention the friends you make through the regular Tweets, Facebook post, and Flickr updates. I actually still talk to photographers from the first challenge, which is commonly referred to as the ‘year of little sleep’. The best advice was from someone not involved in the challenge that said:

“Do not look for inspiration but to make something that inspires.”

Project 365 Image © Brian Palmer

For me, this changed the way I looked at my subjects and concepts, as well as made it easier to quiet my mind before shooting.

This year I plan to build a body of work with the help of the 365. I have longed to do a self-portrait series that is 100% unconventional, a few styled shoot that are inspired from my favorite musicals, and a black and white film portrait series. In addition to doing more people shoots, I also want to bring on board stylists, makeup artist, hair, and models. I would love to turn resulting work into a gallery showing or book, allowing the journey to live on past the realms of the Internet.

Happy shooting!

Project 365 Image © Brian Palmer

Project 365 Photographers: Create and Share on Twitter Tuesday

It’s already Day 3 of the 365 (or 366) photo challenge. If you’ve made it this far, surely you can make it the rest of the way. If you need help staying the course, make sure to read Ten Tips for Completing Your 365 Photo Project.

Always remember this is a project to challenge you, change you and grow your skills. But it should also be fun and ignite your passion for photography, not kill it. So choose your own adventure: Year 1 Rules or Year 2 Guidelines or make up your own!

Make sure to check out the special edition of tasra365 where we feature photographers just like you! Wanna be featured? Just leave me a comment.

Twitter Tuesday Guidelines:

  1. Post your photo of the day or week on your blog or Flickr account, with a link back to this post so others can check out the list too.
  2. Tweet your image and link with hashtag #tasra365 (or Facebook if you’re not on Twitter).
  3. Add your twitter handle or blog name and URL in the Linky form below.

Follow Me on Pinterest On Pinterest? CONNECT with me to share photography, lighting, posing, style, books, inspiration and more!

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Feature Friday: Craptastic Polaroids and Instamatic Images (Repost)

Featuring photographers and the art they are creating and sharing is one of the most rewarding outcomes of my tasra365 photography project. Not only does it give a voice to other artists on their journey, but it provides invaluable inspiration and information to fellow artists along the way.

I hope you are as inspired by these stories as I am. This week, Natalyn Bradshaw shares about her beginnings as a photographer with “craptastic Polaroids” and “Instamatic images.”

I’ve always loved taking pictures.

As a teenager I took tons, and thought nothing of it. It was just to preserve a memory and nothing else. The photos didn’t necessarily look good; there were lots of “Say Cheese!” moments, and many of the photos were craptastic Polaroids (certainly not the cool artistic “Boho” polaroids of today) or fancier (read: glossy Fotomat prints) quality Kodak Disk or Instamatic images.

And I loved all of them. Adored them.

Image © Natalyn Bradshaw

I didn’t care that I lacked “skill.” My objective was not to achieve proper lighting, get crisp details, or make sure there were catchlights in all of my friends’ eyes. It was to just capture the memory of being at a party, or at Six Flags, or at the beach. My dad was the “real” photographer. He knew how to do all of that other stuff. I just watched him when I was a little girl and marveled at all of his equipment and late nights in our den-turned-darkroom. After he died, I had his negative slides and prints, and my own craptastic and “fancier” cameras, to keep me company. I appreciated and respected his artistry, but still wasn’t the least bit upset that my talent in that arena was non-existent. I went on about my business, capturing memories with my friends.

Fast forward years later to adulthood, and my new objective was not far removed from the old one. Capture memories of my children, however I could get them. Slowly, however, I began to get a little more concerned about how my pictures came out, because they were of my children. So I was much more careful and started paying attention to things I never had before, like:

  • Finding the light.
  • Getting crisp details.
  • Having the eyes in focus.
  • Getting that weird “sparkle” in the eyes.

When I achieved that, I noticed, and marveled. My loved ones around me did too.

Image © Natalyn Bradshaw

Image © Natalyn Bradshaw

So, I finally broke down and saved up for something I had wanted for years: a DSLR camera. Just an entry-level, to get me started. Because I was under the impression that the camera would make my photos even better. And to me, it did. I was so happy shooting away in “Auto” and loving the results.

Then, somehow I stumbled upon Tasra’s twitter and blog and got the crazy idea that if I joined her on this 365 challenge and learned more things about my camera, my camera would take even more astonishing pictures and I would be completely amazed!

So, as I followed along, day after day, I discovered something. It wasn’t necessarily my camera that was taking the astonishing pictures that I was loving so much. Even if I didn’t always choose the right setting, I still captured a moment, a memory, that I cherished. I got the same feeling I got as a teenager. It didn’t matter to me if they were technically correct or not. I realized that even those first photos of my children with my DSLR didn’t grab me because of the technical “better-ness.” They all grabbed my heart because they were wonderful memories, captured.

I think anyone who captures moments that grab hearts consistently can be labeled a photographer.

Image © Natalyn Bradshaw

Meta Photography: Thinking About the Process

Surely you’ve heard the psychological buzzword, “metacognition.” It’s loosely defined as “thinking about thinking.” I first heard it a few years ago when I took a few classes on stress and anxiety.

The lesson I learned was that one way to deal with stress and anxiety is to think about what you’re thinking about that is causing the anxiety. This meta-cognitive practice can help diffuse the anxiety and relieve stress.

While thinking about my photography and post processing the past few days, I realized that I don’t do much meta-photography. I simply act and react based on instinct or intuition. I know what I like, a look I want to achieve, or an idea I’ve visualized. From there, I instinctively or through trial and error go about bringing that vision to life.

Instead, if I were to begin thinking about my process, I could grab hold of the steps of the process in order to recreate them. Instead of spending time deciding which action or step is next, I would already know.

I’ve been thinking that the way I post process is haphazard, when in reality I do have distinct patterns and habits… I just haven’t analyzed them enough to articulate the patterns.

So that’s my task this week… meta-photography. I’m going to pay attention to and focus on identifying current habits and patterns in my after capture routine and begin keeping a log, just like a food diary. Once I’ve got a few images logged, I’ll go back and check for patterns. Armed with that information, I have a feeling I’ll be able to figure out exactly where I can improve and make changes for a better workflow.

How’s that sound?

Have you been thinking about your photography in a meta-cognitive way?

Feature Friday: Photography Without Direction

Featuring photographers and their images is one of the most rewarding outcomes of my tasra365 photography project. It provides a voice to other artists on their journey, and offers invaluable inspiration to fellow artists.

I hope you are as inspired by these stories as I am. This week, Sandra Marek shares about her photographic learning journey.

It all started about 3 years ago when I wanted a nice camera to take “better” pictures for my scrapbooking hobby, so my husband gave me a Nikon D-80 for Christmas. I shot in Auto Mode for the first year. One year later, I purchased a used Nikon D-300. I started a picture a day project/blog about a year and a half ago, with a group of photographers of all skill levels.

Image © Sandra Marek

For the first year, I literally just took pictures. I had no direction, no guide and no plan. Pictures of everything and anything would make an appearance in my blog, once I even included my laundry. Most of these images were not very creative, just point and shoot, but I worked on learning something about photography every day.

On February 14, 2010 I came across Tasra Mar’s Blog in which she says that our photography will improve by 300% if we:

  1. Take at least one picture a day.
  2. Read at least 1 page in the camera manual
  3. View other professional images every day.

That day I signed on – I took the challenge. Six and a half months later I have completely read the users manual for the D-300 and I have followed her recommendation to become a better photographer. I have also taken on a daily challenge (The Daily Shoot) in which they give you a guide line for your picture of the day. My learning curve has tripled in the last six months.

Image © Sandra Marek

These are a few of the things I’ve learned in my photographic journey:

  • We all need a little help along the way and it’s o.k. to ask when you are stuck, there are people willing to help.
  • Challenges are good for growth, it makes you think outside of the box.
  • I can study other people’s work, outside of a classroom setting, and find out what it is I like about it, then “lift” my own style and include what I have learned from it in my own work.
  • The camera is only as good as the person holding it.
  • It helps me grow faster when I share what I’ve learned.
  • I have to have tough skin, if I want to continue on this journey.
  • It will all pay off in the end…

Image © Sandra Marek

I’m reading the book Vision Mongers by David duChemin and he puts into words what it feels like in my life every day.

It’s the calling, the passion, the vision. It makes me pick up my camera every single day, sometimes several times a day. It makes me look at objects/people and wonder how I can shoot it creatively. I do it because I cannot “not” do it. It may not always be my best but it’s my best for that day.

So I will continue to pick up the camera every single day, I will continue to take pictures because I cannot “not” do it. I no longer shoot in Auto mode and I see the world in a “different” light. I see colors, shapes, light and shadows. I see details. I have a greater appreciation for the world around me. I have found my passion and my drive.

Image © Sandra Marek

Permission Granted

Why is it that I can be so encouraging and easy on colleagues and friends, but intensely hard on myself. I give others permission to rest, make mistakes, and fail, but struggle with my own feelings of needing to work all the time.

Last week I decided that needed to change.

I decided to stop waiting for someone to tell me what I needed to do and gave myself permission for the following:

  • Take a break from blogging after 365 straight days of blogging about my photographic journey.
  • Postpone the start of my tasra52 post processing challenge and tasra365 writing challenge until October.
  • Stay up late watching movies.
  • Sleep in.
  • Drink Starbucks coffee (it’d been almost 3 months since my last cup of joe).
  • Not clean the house.

I’m sure there are a few more, but you get the idea. I’m excited about my next two challenges, but I also realized that I needed to slow down and savor the accomplishment of the past year. The new challenge will start soon enough, but in the meantime, taking the pressure off myself to just keep going full speed ahead has really done wonders for my creativity.

Of course, along with the permission for the above is the reality that this has been our busiest month for shooting senior portraits. Four full model sessions in the last 7 days… that means 3 hours of heat, humidity, studio and on location shoots, and creative output. It really was just time to focus on those shoots and give myself permission to do whatever it takes to stay creatively fresh.

The good news is that it’s working. I’m excited about the work I’ve been creating, I see the difference in each senior girl I’ve photographed and the locations and styles we’ve chosen. And I’ve got another session scheduled for Wednesday… spent an hour with mom and daughter today planning outfits. Cannot wait!

Bottom line… no one can give you permission to do the things you know you need to do. So stop waiting for it. Just get real and be kind to yourself.

What’s one thing you need to give yourself permission to do this week?

tasra52 Post Processing Challenge

Now that I’ve completed my 365 photography challenge, I’ve decided to take on a weekly post processing challenge. One of my first areas of focus is workflow and keeping track of what I’m doing. Unlike some photographers, I really enjoy the process of post production on my images. Taking an image from pre-visualization to capture to final creative art is a joy for me. Okay, maybe not always, but when I have the time and energy.

However, one of the bad habits I’ve fallen into is not keeping track of the process I use for each of my images. On the positive side, I feel complete freedom to begin with a blank canvas and create whatever I see in my mind’s eye. On the downside, when I create something that I’d like to replicate, I don’t have any record of it. So recreating it requires extra work and a bit of luck. It really only hurts me from a time perspective, but I’d still like to change it.

Ironically, even though I’m committed to the change, when I started post processing images yesterday and today, I forgot.

About halfway through my day today, I remembered and decided to take a screen shot of the image in Photoshop with the actions showing. In truth, I’m not even sure of the best way to keep track of recipes I create for final images.

Got any suggestions or ideas? What do you do?

For this image, I used a combination of the following actions:

  • Kubota Image Tools: Edge Burner, Digi Dark
  • Totally Rad Actions: Grandma’s Tap Shoes, Lux (soft)
  • Imagenomic: Portraiture (custom)

Below are the three image stages: raw image, first pass edit, final image.

Is this helpful? What else would you like to see and learn together on this post processing challenge?