During 2016 I did a 365, though it was actually a 366 because it was a leap year! It was the second time I’ve done one, and I took a different approach from the previous time, in 2014. Back then the theme of my 365 was Tri-X film: I took a picture every day using different kinds of Tri-X (35mm, medium format/120 and sheet film/5×4) in a range of cameras. For my second time around the theme was black-and-white, and all shot with a single camera and a single lens: my newly acquired Leica M6, with a 35mm f/2 lens. Doing a 365 was a way to force myself to use the camera every day, so I’d familiarise myself with it properly! I tried a range of different black-and-white films, including Tri-X, but also slower film (for bright summer light) and much faster film (for the dark days of winter).
As well as setting myself a slightly different challenge, I also had some things I wanted to do differently: lessons from my first time around, new things to try and things I wish I’d done differently in 2014 that I could remedy in 2016. I thought I’d write them down as a reminder to myself for next time I do a 365. They might also be helpful to you if you’re planning one, or doing one already!
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I wish I had taken more portraits the last time around, so I did a lot more of them this year. This relates to…
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I wanted to shoot some pictures that were similar to last time, so I could compare people and places and see how they had changed.
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My first 365 was shot mostly with a 50mm lens. This time around I was using a 35mm f/2 lens, which meant I couldn’t use close-ups and shallow depth of field as a compositional technique. Instead I had to stand back and take more of a street photography and storytelling kind of approach. This was an interesting challenge.
I don’t like doing selfies, or indeed having my picture taken at all. But as I get older I wish I had more pictures of myself when I was younger, so I’ve been throwing in more selfies!
DON’T DO THE PROCESSING AT HOME
Last time my husband processed all the film for me at home, and I then scanned it in. This meant I could finish a roll and see the pictures within a few hours, which was great. But it also meant that I had to do a lot of scanning and (worse) dust removal and general cleaning up. This gets boring very quickly! So this time I sent all my film away for processing and scanning. Thank you Canadian Film Lab and Carmencita Film Lab!
And once I got to the end of my second 365 (or 366) I had some new lessons for next time.
HAVE A BACKUP
This time around I wanted to use the same camera throughout the year. But in February I realised my Leica had a light leak, so I had to send it away to be fixed. Fortunately the very lovely people at Red Dot Camera shop helped me out and let me borrow an identical body for a few weeks! Next time I’ll make sure I have a backup plan if technical problems arise!
TRY COLOUR NEXT TIME
Trying different film stock over a year is fun, but I’ve now tried lots of kinds of black-and-white film (I loved Kodak TMAX 100), so next time I’ll probably do colour instead. And possibly even colour transparency!
THINK ABOUT WHAT’S UNIQUE THAT YEAR
During 2016 I was aware that my son Miles would soon be changing school and I wouldn’t be walking to school with him any more in autumn 2017. In 2018 my daughter will leave home and go to university, so if I do a 365 next year, I’ll want to capture the end of her time living with us at home.
MAKE THE VIDEO
It’s a massive fiddle to turn my pictures into a video slideshow, and takes a whole day, so I almost didn’t do it. (Lining up the image changes with the music is particularly difficult.) But I’m always so glad when I’ve done it. It’s a lovely way to look back not just on the 365, but on the whole year. So I need to make sure I do it!
KEEP IT QUIET
The second time around I kept my 365 a secret, which reduced the pressure and made it feel more like my own personal project. I like doing it that way. So if I do another one next year, I’ll probably keep it to myself until it’s all done.
Have you done a 365? What lessons would you offer yourself, or someone else, for the next one? Let us know in the comments.