January 27, 2012

How to Choose a Photo You Love

365 is a project/challenge I've hear about for years. The premise is that you take a picture every day for a year and that you will have a fun group of photos to look back on and that you will become a better photographer.

I have never really felt up to the challenge (though I have tried it once before). Until now. I have officially started the 365 project this year.

Already I feel that I've gotten a lot out of it. If only being more brave with my camera and taking it everywhere with me.

The hardest thing by far is picking only one picture to share.

So how do you choose a photo you love?

1. Get feedback from other people.

I talk to friends who also like taking pictures and value their feedback. I am a part of a group on Flickr where I regularly get feedback. Sometimes a fresh eye and a different perspective help a lot.

I first go through and rate my photos, culling out the top ten or so photos that catch my eye and are meaningful. I normally have some that are more "artistic" and some that simply highlight a milestone or a memorable moment (whether they are 'beautiful' or not).

2. Ask a non photographer their opinion.

I always ask Jacob for his opinion. He loves to take the occasional picture but really doesn't get all excited like I do. I value his "top choices" because it helps me to see what someone who doesn't consider themselves "artsy" likes or, sometimes, doesn't like.

In the end though, pick what you like. It's your project and you know how you want the project to go.

 3. Break the Rules!

There are rules to everything in life and photography is no different. Rule of thirds, exposure etc. But sometimes you should just go with your gut. If no one else likes it you can just consider it good experience and move on. After all, a lot of being creative is trusting your instincts and taking chances.

To put it simply, sometimes when I just cannot for the life of me choose one photo I love- I don't. I choose two. It's your project. Do what you like and pick what YOU love.

4. Consider the overall story.

Many people bind their finished project or blog into a book. Ever wondered why that person seems to talk about things that only interest them? Well.. It is their blog/project after all and they have a motive besides entertaining you. Shocking- I know.

When I look at my pictures I hope to be able to look back in five years and remember shopping for that wedding gift, or Claire getting her first tooth. It's entirely subjective and I am ultimately, the only person who really needs to be over the moon about all of the subjects. I really love each photo I choose. And I even really love the  "alternates" and "rejects" I almost choose.

So when I look at my photos I always ask myself, "Is this beautiful?", "Is it unique?", "Is it meaningful to me?" and "Does it tell a bigger story?" And on that note, have an idea the story you want to tell. The story of your year? Of the drought? Of the election? What is the story you want to be able to communicate some day to other people?

In the end- it's simply not easy making the cut. But the more you practice the easier it gets.

5. Remember that you are unique- and so is your documentation of this world! 

No one else in the entire world sees things quite like you. No one. Amazing isn't it? So dare to capture life around you in little snippets. Dare to document the world as you see it. Someone will appreciate it even if it's only your significant other or child down the road.
Your story is unique- so share it!



If you're interested in taking up the challenge- you can start on any day of the year, try many variations (some people take one picture a week),  and you can use ANY camera you have (phones too!). And you don't have to be a photographer (though if you're using a camera... you ARE), you just have to be willing!

Don't be afraid of failure. This isn't even my first time to try this project. After all, what do you have to lose?

Happy Shooting!

 If you've done this or a similar project- how do you choose that one special photo?

7 comments:

Brandon and April said...

Further proof that everyone has their own taste: my favorite of all of these is the laundry detergent! :) Because it says something to me of what you see every day (or every other!) and it's something that I (used to) see every day too. My laundry detergent looks different now...but still...it's an everyday thing!
love your perspective.

Jen said...

I always find it funny seeing what other people like. It's usually NOT my favorite photo. Looks like you're having a great time with the project!

HoneyLavenderPiggy said...

I am definitely inspired to carry my camera around more, and to not feel silly about the flash wherever it may be. smiles*

Alexis said...

Love the angle in the photos. I so struggle with thinking outside the box when it comes to taking pictures and always tend to shoot straight on.

These photos give me some good ideas on seeing things from a different angle.

Oh and how do you get comfortable just pulling your camera out and shooting. I took mine to target the other night and found myself trying to hide it even though I wanted to take some pictures of Crewe so bad.

The Reeds said...

I am just now learning to challenge myself to get my camera out in public. It's a hard one! I like having this project so I can actually tell people, "I'm doing this project..." and I feel justified. Mostly people don't care and are actually interested in what you're taking a picture of! (Though some people are less than thrilled...)

And you guys are right- you never know what someone else will love. It's funny then that we let ourselves get bogged down in trying to please others! And that's right Honey- take pictures of those precious babies wherever you want! ;)

The Miersma Family! said...

I've never tried this project but always enjoy looking at others' pictures!

The Reeds said...

I have watched other people do it for a few years and could never muster the energy while teaching. It seems like it would be nigh impossible with multiple kids but wouldn't it be neat to look back and see it? I've also heard of the Project 52 where you just pick one picture for the entire week and end up with a project of 52 photos (start it any time). That might be more possible and equally as rewarding. I know one photographer in Cali who committed to taking one family portrait (with her in it) once a week for a year- some of them are messy- in crazy places and no one is ever "ready" but I still think it's a cool project and great memories!

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