10 Tips for Starting & Finishing Project 365

Did Santa leave a shiny new camera or lens under the tree? Are you excited to learn everything there is to know about photographing your kids but don’t know how to get started? Or have you been a photographer some time and need something to re-spark your passion for photography? Why not give Project 365 a try in 2017 to improve your skills and capture some amazing moments. Here are some of our best tips for starting and finishing!

“At the end of 2014, I decided that my daughter was growing up entirely too fast. The first 2.5 years of her life were well documented, but I wanted to be more intentional about taking photos of her instead of allowing my client work to consume my passion for photography. I decided that on January 1, 2015 I would begin documenting our lives daily – specifically, my children (later adding my son this past summer). I have since completed two full years of Project 365 and see no end in sight.” – Ashley

1. Consider your “WHY”

There are a variety of ways to start a photo-a-day project. Some people go with Project 365 (or 366 as it was in 2016) which consists of literally taking one photo a day, while others prefer Project 52 which only requires one photo per week. It really doesn’t matter which way you go, as long as you know WHY you are doing it. 

  • If you’re using this project as a way to document your family’s life, great. What is the story you want to tell?
  • If you need a good excuse to improve your technical abilities, fantastic. What specific skills do you want to work on?
  • If you want to connect with other photographers and expand the creative side of your brain, perfect. Is there a type of photography that you want to really explore? 

Some people even like to set a theme or “word” for the year and focus their images around that theme or word.

The key is to be intentional about what you’re doing; otherwise, it’ll be too easy to throw in the towel as the year progresses. 

2. Challenge yourself

During the winter months, your hours of available daylight and warm temperatures are obviously limited. In fact, you may find that you spend many of your days indoors. While it’s certainly easier to take a photo with abundant light, challenge yourself to use what’s available.

Encourage your children to play in front of the windows of your home so that you can experiment with light. Whether you utilize backlighting provided by your kitchen’s bay window or play with the shadows in your bedroom, indoor home photography offers a number of fun challenges. 

If you’re new to photography, consider working through our photography tutorials as part of your project. We also strongly recommend that you read Understanding Exposure. 

3. Bring Your Camera Everywhere

As parents, it seems that we’re always toting around a ton of stuff. Our diaper bags are already packed full with diapers, wipes, snacks, toys, and spare clothes, but we also carry the “big girl camera” everywhere. While bringing your DSLR with you does add extra weight to an already full load, we find that it’s by far the best way to capture everyday life. Sure, you can use your smartphone, but we can’t guarantee that you’ll see any improvement in your photos if you only rely on photos taken with it. 

Do you need a camera bag? Eh, not necessarily, but the extra padding will protect your investment. Look for a bag that offers lots of pockets to hold all your stuff. Those pockets can be used for camera gear OR diaper bag essentials. We particularly like the Journey by SHUTTERbag USA, but there are a number of camera bag options that can handle double duty. 

4. Don’t be Embarrassed

When you start carrying your camera everywhere, you may find that you’re a little nervous to bring your camera out in public (specifically, places of businesses like the grocery store). Get over yourself. You have no reason to be embarrassed, and you’ll later appreciate that you were able to capture these everyday interactions in addition to fun events and posed shots. 

However, do consider where you are shooting. Some locations do not welcome cameras so be sure to ask permission if the situation calls for it.

5. Keep a List of “Must Have” shots

Each month, consider what will take place that is worthy of a special image. Babies will easily provide a plethora of photo opportunities, but we find that if you don’t write down the shots you want captured, you may forget. If you find it useful, jot down a few notes on your calendar and plan ahead (especially if the shot you want requires the weather to cooperate). In addition to what may be going on in your personal life, consider the social and political climate. For example, 2016 provided a lot of interesting material during the election that was worth capturing. 

You can also use the seasons and holidays to inspire various shots. For example, January is a great time for snow photos, February always includes a Valentine’s themed shot, and of course, December is the month for all kinds of Christmas related photographs. 

6. Find a Routine

In terms of taking, editing, and sharing photos, find a routine that works for you. We find that we take photos throughout the day, but that editing our favorite images almost always occurs at night after the kids go to bed. If you’re traveling or just need a break, don’t feel obligated to edit photos everyday.

However, don’t let your editing work pile up too much. For one, your computer only has so much hard drive space to store images (especially if you shoot RAW). Secondly, trying to edit and create a photo album all at one time is incredibly time consuming and stressful. Be kind to yourself and do a little as you go. 

7. Throw out the rule book

Photo projects don’t have to start on January 1, nor do they have to include a specific theme or perfect pictures or even be shot solely with a DSLR every single day. Do whatever is realistic for you. And if you miss a day, no big deal. At the end of the year, your computer will still be full of incredible memories worth printing. 

8. Print and Share

On that note, don’t forget to print and share the images you capture during the year. Sharing can be as simple or complicated as you’d like. We prefer to simply upload to Facebook in albums labeled “Project 365” with the month and year, but you may prefer Instagram or blog format. 

At the end of the year, be sure to print all your images and place in an album (we actually break the year into half because there are so many photos). 

9. Get in front of the camera

It’s awfully tempting to get behind the camera and never come out, but try your best to get in front of the camera as often as you can. You can either ask a friend to take a photo of you (which we totally consider being the photo of that day – even if you didn’t technically take the picture), or set up a tripod and use a remote. Either way, you and your children will appreciate that you were in the shot years from now when you’re flipping through photo albums. 

10. Have Fun!

Be sure to have fun while you’re taking photos. Learning any new skill set can be incredibly frustrating, and the addition of children makes for a stressful situation. However, if you keep a positive attitude, your kids will gladly play along. Don’t worry so much over getting everyone to smile at the camera. Just focus on being in the moment and the rest will follow. 


The idea of taking a photo a day for a whole year may seem like a lot, however, having done it for two years, we can confidently say that it’s one of the most satisfying things you can do for yourself. Childhood passes by way too fast and you’ll never regret capturing the simple joys of life. 

With that said, enjoy yourself and good luck!

Need help getting started? Check out Daily Mom’s Guide to Photography

Photo Credits: Ashley Sisk

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Ashley Sisk

Ashley lives in North Carolina with her husband, two children and Kitty Paw. She's a work-from-home mom with a natural light photography business and a passion for sharing everything she knows. Since leaving the corporate world, she now spends her time chasing her preschooler, nursing her new baby, writing and finding ways to enjoy life. You can find her on Facebook, Google + or on her website.

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