Project 365: A Year in Photos

By Danelle Frisbie © 2011

Project 365 example photos from pp readers' Minute in History 1-1-11 gallery

Our first son was born at the end of a 10-month long journaling expedition that I'd undertaken while pregnant. Prior to that time, I'd never recorded daily events online ala photo and blurb fashion, but the experience proved to be an enlightening one. To this day, it is compelling (albeit boring for others, I'm sure) to go back over my recorded details of that initial journey into motherhood.

Our birthing days ended in a manner I tried desperately to avoid, but my husband was gracious enough to pick up the first few days post-op and continue to detail, with daily pictures, our child's first moments earthside. On Day Four postpartum, he was shipped (what seemed to be) a million miles away - deployed to the other side of the globe. To make matters more strenuous on my new mommy heart, he was stuck on a submarine deep below the ocean's surface for the next four months. Life onboard a sub does not lend itself to family communication in any way whatsoever - there are no pictures, no videos, no phone calls, no mail. There may be the occasional text message (brief, simple, authority-screened, text only), but even these are few and far between and solely when "missions" are not in progress. Needless to say, I did not want my partner in parenting to miss out on the first four months of his first child's life. So I decided the moment he stepped on that plane, to continue the daily photo/journal we'd started.

Over the course of the next year, I took at least one photo of our son every single day, and also recorded at least one paragraph about what our day had held. There were many days I spilled out on the screen what my heart needed to say, others when I rejoiced in new accomplishments, or laughed at quirky baby games we'd played. Initially, the photo journal was public - but soon I learned new parents (especially those breaking 'rules' with their gentle ways) tend to upset some family members - so it became private. Just a dialog between myself, my husband, and our lived experiences. As trivial as it may sound, that "Project 365" now has a special place in our son's baby book collection... For me, it was both healing and inspiring. Motivating and refreshing - an outlet for expression, release, reflection and creativity. I haven't taken on another one-photo-a-day project since that time - but there are many others who have.

Somewhat a fad now, there are "365 Projects" popping up all over. And really, it is a fun way to go about learning -- discovering yourself, paying attention to the world around you, your own feelings, choices, life. I've met teachers who have used 365 Projects in their classroom, and parents who have documented the life and times of their little ones in one-photo-a-day format. I've interviewed a chef who used the project to highlight her venture into vegan eating, and an animal rescue worker who helped dogs find forever homes with her Project 365. The possibilities are endless - and you may just want to join in the fun for...well, fun!

So grab your camera - old or new, cell phone, snapshot, or professional - and start at a click a day. Or take on the project with your kids. Maybe each of them will want to rotate and snap a photo of their own - a family project of sorts. Or start printing/pasting away for a unique wallpaper in your classroom!

If you already have a photo from the past two days (New Year's Day and Jan 2) maybe you wish to start your Project 365 on 1-1-11. Otherwise, begin today and see where your 365 Project takes you... You may be surprised at what you'll get yourself into!

Taylor McKnight is one of many seasoned project creators (with a much better camera than I have!). He is co-founder of Podbop and put together this brief list of suggestions for Photojojo in 2005 after having a couple years of 365 projects under his belt. Two of McKnight's projects are linked below. He writes:
Why Do It?

Taking a photo a day is a big undertaking with big payoffs. Here are just a few reasons why you should consider doing it:

* Imagine being able to look back at any day of your year and recall what you did, who you met, what you learned… (Often we find it hard to remember what we did just yesterday or even last night, let alone a whole year ago!)

* Your year-long photo album will be an amazing way to document your travels and accomplishments, your haircuts and relationships. Time moves surprisingly fast.

* Taking a photo a day will make you a better photographer. Using your camera every day will help you learn its limits. You will get better at composing your shots, you’ll start to care about lighting, and you’ll become more creative with your photography when you’re forced to come up with something new every single day.

Six Tips on How to Do It

1. Bring Your Camera Everywhere
Yes, everywhere. Get in the habit. Grocery stores, restaurants, parties, work, and school. Going to a movie theatre? Snap a pic of the flick with your phone - there are photo-ops everywhere. If you have one of those tiny tiny cameras, you have no excuse not to have it in your pocket all the time. And if you don’t? Camera phones are a great substitute.

2. Make Posting Easy
You can install blog software like Movable Type or WordPress on your own site and create an entry for each photo, but for true ease of use, try a photo sharing site. Flickr will let you post a week’s worth of photos in 2 minutes flat, and fotolog and are geared toward a photo-a-day workflow. Making it fast and easy means you’re much more likely to do it.

3. Vary Your Themes
Try to capture the day’s events in a single photo. Perform photographic experiments. Take a photo of someone new you meet, something you ate for the first time, or something you just learned how to do. Take a photo of something that made you smile. And don’t forget to take a photo of yourself at least once a month so you can remember how you’ve changed, too.

4. Tell a Story
Use your blog entry, or your photo description, to explain what’s going on in each day’s photograph. How good did that dinner taste? What made you want to take a photo of that stranger? It’ll help you remember down the road, and it gives friends following along a better appreciation of why you took the photo you did. You don’t need to write a lot, just enough to add some color.

5. Don’t Stop, No Matter What
This is perhaps the most important tip of all. You will get tired of taking a photo every single day. Some days, you will consider giving up. Don’t. The end result is worth the effort. Remind yourself why you wanted to do it in first place.

There will be times you’ll think there’s nothing interesting left to take a photo of, and times you’ll think you didn’t do anything exciting enough to take a photo of. There’s always a great photo to be made.

Get out of the house and take a walk. Or stay inside and look around. Take a photo of something important to you. Take a photo of the inside of your house so you can see how your taste has changed over the years. Take a photo of anything - just don’t stop.

It helps if you’ve told your friends about the project and asked them to follow along. Their encouragement will keep you going!

6. Post early, post often
Plan on going through and posting your photos at least once a week so you don’t get backlogged and feel overwhelmed. Ideally, post every day or two. Again, spend the time up front to make sure it’s quick and easy to post on whatever photosharing/album site you choose. It’ll make all the difference.

Related Information:

Flickr Project 365 Members Group for 2011

The Benefits of a 365 Project by Peter Carey

Hints & Tips for doing a 365 Project

Example: Project 365 Recap (2004) by Taylor McKnight

Example: Project 365 (2006) by Taylor McKnight



  1. love the idea. thanks for your story


    Here's my Project 365 carried on from last year!

  3. I've tried projects like this several times. The closest I got was in my physical journal, where my rule was "something" everyday. Sometimes an entry, sometimes a bit of poetry or a quote I'd heard and liked, sometimes a sketch, sometimes a photo. Unfortunately, I was in a major vehicle collision, causing multiple injuries, including breaking my hand, and between recovery and my then eight month old, I stopped somewhere in the tenth month. I also tried writing haiku every day last year. I didn't finish the year, but I still love that collection of poetry.



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