I failed my 365 photo project and this is what I learned.

So 2015 started off with a bang, full of goals, intentions, to-do lists and most exciting of all, my 365 photo project that was going to lead me to my photographer’s ‘happily-ever-after’.

Personal goals, business goals, creative goals, all kinds of goals. I had a laser focus on all of my goals and I was going to show the world, and myself, that I’d be able to proudly announce by the end of the year that I had not just met, but exceeded all of them, and I’d have a personal portfolio of 365 fine art images that I’d proudly share and officially nominate myself a successful Fine Art Photographer.

Then a week after New Year’s, I was back home and back into my work routine and then the proverbial paw-paw inched it’s way towards the fan. Life happened, work happened, and priorities changed. You know, like servicing the clients who were paying me for my work, so that I could help feed my husband and dog.

And so as I reflect on this 51st day of 2015 and my failed 365 photo project, this is what I’ve come to realise…

Goals Evolve

I realised this on Day 9 of my photo project. I had created an image which I so enjoyed, that I continued it’s theme through the following 28 images. Then I had another realisation – this new theme and all it’s intricacies, requires a LOT of time, and this is what has lead me to writing this blog post.

surreal miniature me and a lamp for 365 personal fine art project by abigail k photography

Day 9 – This is the image that changed it for me.


What I now realise about the evolution of my initial goal, is that you need to be able to allocate sufficient time to the cause. Unfortunately, or fortunately, my evolution made my process more complicated and hence my failed 365 photo project.

What’s the real purpose?

I’ve had to ask myself about my real reason for doing a 365 Photo Project. Last year I successfully managed to complete a 365 Appreciation Project with the purpose of mindfully looking for things in my life to be grateful for.

If I get my ego out of the way, (you know, the one who’s berating me right now because here’s one of those things that I started and couldn’t finish) and if I really think about why I wanted to start this project in the first place, then I’d say my reasons were:

  • to stretch my creativity muscle
  • to create photographs for myself and not for a paying client
  • to experiment, learn and grow
  • to build a portfolio of work different from what I currently have.

If I read this list now, and I ask myself

Can I still achieve these goals without completing the 365 Photo Project?

My answer is most assuredly – Hell, Yes!

Get Real

Before setting out on a year long photo project, I think it’s pertinent to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. When I started out, my theme was ‘Comfort Zone Stretch’ – doing something or photographing something that took me out of my comfort zone. Whether it was a quick snap or an intricate edit. Even if your project is literally snapping a quick daily pic, there’s so much more than just one click of the shutter button:

  1. You set yourself a theme
  2. You have to figure out what to shoot for that day
  3. You have to find/travel to/set up/create your chosen subject
  4. You have to shoot it
  5. You have to process it
  6. You have to upload it to wherever you’re hosting your project

And you have to do all of this, every day, in amongst your daily routine, which for most people, sees every hour, every minute and every second already double booked.

So getting clear on how much time you have available to devote to your project as well as how much time your project is going to demand, must surely be the first thing you do before taking up the challenge. And of course factor in those times when your day just does not pan out the way you had intended, you know those happen!

Quality over Quantity

What I started to observe with my very short lived project is that I started to feel the pressure of the daily deadline, and landed up posting images on Instagram that I wasn’t completely happy with. I just needed to get it out there, and had I been under less time constraints, I would have taken more time to edit or perhaps, I would never have posted it in the first place.

This was interesting to me, and is key to following your natural instincts as an artist. Share your work when you’re ready to, not because you feel you HAVE to.

A smaller, stronger portfolio has to be better than a larger, mediocre portfolio, right?

holding on, being swept away, windy fan

Daily One Thing

Even though I’ve failed at creating and posting an image a day for my 365 photo project, I’m still resolutely committed to doing one thing every day towards helping me create the portfolio I desire. This project has ignited in me, more strongly than ever, the desire for my work to be purposeful, well-thought out and well executed. I’m reading, watching tutorials, learning new photoshop skills, allowing myself to experiment and growing daily. It’s this daily action that’s going to make all the difference in the long run.

Crossing off the calendar fine art photography by Abigail K Photography

Go Easy on Yourself

Seriously, it’s really not the end of the world – admitting defeat. The 365 Project Police are not tracking you down as we speak ready to publicly reprimand you for not keeping up with your daily photos. The earth will continue to turn and you will continue to be loved. In the big picture, it’s disappointing, sure, but it’s not the end of the world.

In Conclusion…

This 365 photo project will evolve once more, perhaps into a 52 week photo project or a less structured personal photo project, but either way, provided I stay on my current trajectory, I’m counting it as a win!

I’m not defeated!

I know that I’ll be coming back here regularly to remind myself of my own advice, and I hope you do too.

Have you tried a 365 photo project? How far did you get? Did you complete it? I’d love to hear how you did.