My One-A-Day Photo Project of 2021
It started exactly a year ago. I wanted to improve my technical skills as a photographer, and my photo editing skills as well. Although I’m constantly reading books and watching videos about photography, there really is no substitute for just getting out there and shooting, shooting, shooting. I read an article that was emailed to me by the iPhone Photography School (of which I am a member) that recommended undertaking a 365-day photo project, and realized immediately that I should go for it. The goal of a 365-day project is to take (and post online) at least one photo every single day for an entire year. It sounds easy, but it definitely is a commitment that takes time, effort, and dedication.
Day 1: Person ascending a subway stairway on the upper west side of Manhattan
I have a Fuji X-T30 camera, and I also have a little Ricoh GR IIIx, and I considered using one of these cameras for the project, figuring that it would be a great way to become really proficient with that piece of equipment. But the Fuji is a little heavy, and the Ricoh, while small, is still not as portable as my iPhone. My iPhone is the one camera that I’m never without, so the vast majority of these photos were taken with my iPhone.
Because I’d be posting that day’s chosen photo, I was motivated to make the photo at least somewhat interesting or appealing. I really stuck to the rules, too: the photo I posted had to be taken on that particular day. So, if I was really motivated on Monday and I took ten great photos, I wouldn’t be allowed to use one of those Monday photos if I found myself uninspired on Tuesday. It had to be taken that day. Some days, the weather was horrible, or I wasn’t feeling great, or I just wasn’t in the mood to go outside. On those days, I was forced to find inspiration inside the apartment (usually in the form of Glitter, my feline muse.)
Day 192: Glitter, behind the blinds, in my apartment.
The article promised that I would see dramatic improvements as a photographer, and they were right. This project impacted me in many ways. It taught me a lot about myself. For example, I developed a great appreciation for black and white photography (30% of the photos I posted were black and white). Not surprisingly, 21% of the photos for this project featured some type of animal (30 dogs, 28 cats, 9 birds, 2 llamas, 4 cows, a deer, a squirrel, a monkey, and two grasshoppers). Of the 28 photos that contained a cat, Glitter was that cat in 8 of them.
Day 219: Cows on the outskirts of Amsterdam
To be a good photographer, you have to be a good observer, and this project compelled me to develop my observational skills. As the days progressed, I was able to train my eye to see photographic opportunities where I wouldn’t have before. Now, it’s almost second nature.
Day 43: I normally wouldn’t have expected an empty subway car to be notable or photo worthy, but on this day, I saw a kaleidoscope.
Of all the photographic genres out there, the one that I’m drawn to the most is street photography, and most of the project photos fall into that genre.
Day 340: Pink haired woman on Greenwich Village street.
However, I went out of my way to try to expand my horizons, for example: portraits
Day 30: Little girl in Kiwengwa, Zanzibar
Day 297: Tree in New Paltz, New York
Day 360: Sun setting over 6th Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan
Day 357: A bench outside of 41 Madison Avenue, Flatiron District, Manhattan
Day 50: Snow covered fire escape. A perfect urban landscape.
And night photography:
Day 333: Woman emerging from 28th St. subway station in the early evening.
I got really good at “shooting from the hip”, allowing me to get pictures from a low angle.
Day 302 : Girl sitting on sidewalk reading the bible. Stealthily shot “from the hip”
Day 287: Guy with his dog, Washington Square Park. Shot “from the hip”
I also got pretty proficient at capturing nice reflections in puddles, lakes, streams, windows, mirrors, and off of buildings.
Day 3: Reflection in puddle of police car and building near Union Square
Day 94: Sky reflected in building near Astor Place, Manhattan
Day 157: Buildings reflected in the reservoir at Central Park, Manhattan
Day 217: Lights reflected off the water of a canal in Amsterdam
My editing skills grew by leaps and bounds. I learned, through lots of trial and error, how to use the Snapseed app to give some black and white photos a very specific look, which I used on some New York architectural photos to give them an eerie graphic novel Gotham/Metropolis appearance.
Day 331: Buildings in Jersey City, New Jersey.
I also figured out how to give some color photos a muted pastel look reminiscent of Edward Hopper’s paintings. I posted some of those photos in the Facebook group “Inspired by Edward Hopper” and got some nice feedback.
Day 182: Discarded mask at a booth in a diner, Philadelphia
Day 194: Man walking across the library floor, midtown Manhattan.
I haven’t figured out what new projects I’ll do in 2022, but you’ll be the first to see them.