One morning in early April while perusing Instagram (or better known as avoiding getting up for work), I came across a post about The 100 Day Project. The creators' description had me intrigued:
What Is the 100-Day Project? It’s a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it’s not about fetishizing finished products—it’s about the process.
100 days of photo prompts immediately entered my mind. Fresh off of an intensive photography course and about to begin a second one, I was on the hunt for consistent ways to sharpen my photography skills without the need to rely on weekly assignments as an excuse to pull out my camera.
I searched the hashtag #the100dayproject and people were doing some amazing things... making a plant-inspired blanket square every day, creating analog data, drawing 100 illustrations. They were all taking photos of these things every day, so would 100 prompt-based photos be a cop-out of sorts? I hemmed and hawed over it and then came across this on the main page...
Right there, in the bottom right corner it says "TAKE 100 PHOTOS". There's my sign!
I could not find a list of 100 photo prompts anywhere on the interwebs so I got down to work and compiled my own list from several different challenges. I made the list as neutral as possible so that I wasn't struggling to locate something to photograph each day. The point was to get the camera out and take a new picture every day, not to go insane trying to do something new on the daily or put my life on hold to take epic photographs for an extended period of time.
Since starting, I've received a lot of positive feedback and questions about how one would go about doing their own 100-day photo project. This challenge is perfect for anyone that is looking for some inspiration in both their photography and life in general. It encourages you to bring your camera everywhere and capture places and moments that you would have normally taken with your phone or not at all. It forces you to see ordinary objects from new angles and in a different light. It gives you the courage to ask people if you can photograph them or their little ones, when you might not otherwise have been so bold. And most importantly, this project will undoubtedly unveil the beauty that is in the every day. The confidence it creates is worth it alone. I went from being on the fence about starting a photography business to feeling more than ready to offer my services up and share my passion with others.
Thinking of doing your own? Here's what I've learned works best:
- Take your camera EVERYWHERE. Clear some space in your purse or man-bag and make bringing your camera along a priority. I kicked myself every single time I thought I didn't need it because there is always something to take a photo of!
- Focus on getting it done. Not every photo is going to be better than the last, or the most epic photo ever taken. The important thing is that you are learning how to use your camera, getting comfortable with angles and poses, and using light to your advantage to get the most flattering shot. Over time, you'll naturally be taking fewer but more high quality pictures. At the end of it, you will come away with 100 photos that YOU have taken and wouldn't have if you didn't take on the challenge. Some of your best ever are waiting within those hundred days!
- Mistakes are NECESSARY. If you take a crappy picture, take note of how you could have composed it better, what settings would have been more appropriate to achieve the look you were going for, where you could have stood to make better use of your light, etc. You are more likely to remember what not to do, in my experience, so get out there, experiment and make mistakes. I did a maternity shoot for friends at f/2.8 and looking back on my shots, I didn't get the clear shape of the CN Tower in the background as a result. The disappointment I felt will ensure that it most definitely will not happen again!
- Complete the challenge within a 100-day time span, rather than take 100 photos over an undefined period of time. While you can essentially approach this as either 100 photos within 100 days, or 100 photos whenever you have time, I recommend choosing a start date and end date. Otherwise, there is nothing holding you accountable to complete the project and you'll miss the point of partaking in it.
- If you miss a day, IT'S OKAY. The world isn't going to implode. In order to get the most out of this challenge, I would suggest picking up where you left off and don't skip a day. Remember: the point is to pick up and use your camera! Having said that, if you are on day 75 without having missed a day and are determined to do this challenge within 100 days NO MATTER WHAT, choose a photo you took since the start of the challenge and use that against a prompt. I gave myself 5 days grace, and have only had to use photos from another day twice. Remember, this is supposed to be inspirational, educational and FUN! You get out of it what you put in to it.
- Had a crazy busy day and didn't get home until 10 p.m. (and didn't go by cardinal rule #1 to bring your camera everywhere)? Don't call it a day. Pick up your camera and shoot anyway. Light a candle and practice low light photography. Turn on your outdoor patio lights and photograph those. Light something with your smartphone flashlight to create some interesting shadows. Times like these force you to experiment with different light, to not overthink too much, and to shoot quickly since you'd rather be in bed!
- Choose prompts based on what's available to you and interpret them in whatever way works for you. Again... this isn't do or die. There are no "prompt police" that are going to come after you. Make it as easy on yourself as possible, otherwise you're going to resent it or quit. Interpret these prompts in whatever way your imagination takes you. Light can be bright sun, a lamp, a feather, or even a happy kid!
- Edit, or don't. It's up to you. If you don't like to edit your photos, don't. If you are in the midst of figuring out your editing style, now is a good time to experiment. If you love to apply ALL the filters, go right ahead! This is your art so do whatever floats your boat.
- HAVE FUN! Use these 100 days as an excuse to go out and photograph places or people that you wouldn't normally have. Go to a festival, peruse an antique shop, drive out to the country and take photos of lavender fields. If you're a homebody, take this time to treat yourself to some fresh flowers or pastries, purchase some plants for your porch, sneak up on your kids or pets, and snap some shots. Get creative!
I hope this challenge inspires you and helps you to sharpen your photography skills over the 100 prompts, like it did for me. There will be days when you REALLY don't want to take a picture and wish you never started this challenge. Don't give up. I promise you won't regret sticking with it!