15 Tips for Staying Motivated During a Photo-a-Day Project | Long Island & NYC Family Photographer

All this year I have been participating in a "365 Project" (actually, a 366 Project since it's a leap year!), which means I am taking one photo a day for the entire year and posting the photographs to Flickr and a few different groups on Facebook, along with many other photographers who are doing the same challenge.

We are now nearing the home stretch, being within 100 days of the finish, and I am starting to fall into a bit of a slump. I have taken on Photo-A-Day projects in the past (five to be exact!) and there are definitely points throughout the year when it can be a slog to pick up the camera. I have to say, though, this year's project has been my favorite by far, and I think it's because I have tried to keep it interesting by challenging myself in different ways throughout the year when it comes to taking that daily photograph. Writing this post this morning is already giving me some motivation to push through my current lull.

So here they are: 15 Ways to Stay Motivated During a Photo-A-Day Project.

1. Tell a Story

As a documentary family photographer, this one is my favorite. It is not always easy to do, but when achieved, that one storytelling photograph is such an amazing record of the day. I am actually contemplating a project of all storytelling photographs for 2017! 

2. Look for Interesting Light

Next to a good story, good light is my next favorite thing to photograph. When it doubt, I always look for the light. Or the shadow! Shadows make for just as interesting photographs as beautiful light does. And don't discount the magic of artificial light - look for pockets of light from iPads, cell phones, refrigerators, lamps, toys.

3. The Best Camera is the One You Have With You

It can be a drag to carry around a big DSLR everyday. So don't! You can take amazing photographs with your cell phone or a small pocket camera. I have a Sony RX100iii that I bought after Logan was born as a "diaper bag camera", and I love it. It is tiny enough to fit in my pocket, and it takes great images.

4. Document Details That Might Be Different a Year From Now

What little details about your family and your life currently will change as time goes on? Is your child still in diapers? That might not be the case next year. Do they suck their thumb? They might not next year. Record those little details!

5. Celebrate Your Everyday Traditions

What are some of the activities that your family loves to do currently? A few of our go-to outings are lunch at Panera and shopping at Target. We are at both of those places constantly! And at home, jumping on the couch, and drawing pictures are everyday activities. Every. Single. Day. Take pictures of those traditions!

6. Showcase the Seasons

A fun way to show the passing of time when you look at your 365 set as a whole, is to be sure to have photographs showing the different seasons throughout the year. Show the kids having fun in the snow, let us see the autumn leaves in your neighborhood, a beach day at the height of summer!

7. Record the Details

This is one I am working on! Take in the small details around your home. Details that tell a story, that are characteristics of your life. There is beauty in the most ordinary!

8. Shoot wide. Incorporate the Environment.

This is another favorite. I love to include our surroundings in my photographs. I know I will love to look back in the years to come, and see how the kids' room looked when they were small,  how our yard was cluttered with plastic toys and heavy equipment and details of the neighborhood in 2016.

9. Experiment with Different Techniques.

There's nothing better for jumpstarting my inspiration than playing with a new technique - whether it's freelensing, or using a prism, or a Lensbaby or shooting underwater - there is always something new and fun to be learned by thinking (or shooting!) outside the box! With winter and darker days on the way, I am also looking forward to playing with my speedlight!

10. Explore Your City

Plan a day trip! Go somewhere you've never been before. Or go somewhere you've been a million times, and challenge yourself to photograph it in a different way.

11. Take Note of Your Current Interests

It's so fun to look back at old photographs of my bedroom when I was a teenager, or my dorm room in college and see what was hanging on the walls. Oh yeah, I used to be a Pearl Jam fan! I LOVED River Phoenix! Be sure to document what you are currently into - and what your kids are currently into. Are you a knitter? A baker? Do your kids like Frozen right now? Or have they moved on something else? Document it!

12. Don't Underestimate the Value of a Snapshot

All of my favorite photographs from my childhood are snapshots. Brief moments in time captured quickly by the snap of a camera. What I'm saying is, don't overthink it. Not all your photos will be masterpieces, but that doesn't make them any less magical or meaningful. Just take the photo.

13. Make a Portrait

This is a go-to when I am out of ideas. I always love a good portrait of one of my kiddos or someone special in my life,  or even someone interesting on the street!

14. Include the Important People in Your Life

This one is self-explanatory. Don't be shy with that camera. Get the important people in your life in the frame.

15. Don't Forget to Include Yourself!

This one is so important! I know it's a pain - but every once in a while, pull out that tripod, set the timer, get out the remote - and get in the frame. This is the story of YOUR year. So make sure there are some photographs of you!

And there you have it - 15 tips for staying motivated during a 365 project! If you are currently doing a photo-a-day project, I hope some of these tips are helpful to you, and if you aren't - perhaps these will inspire you to take on your own project in 2017!

If you'd like to take a look at my "Year in Photos" so far - please come visit me on Flickr!


Francesca Russell is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker located in Garden City South, NY. If you'd like to see some of her recent documentary family photography, head over to her Facebook page or follow her everyday adventures on InstagramIf you are looking for a family photographer on Long Island or in the New York City area to document your family's story in photos or a film, please contact her for a session!