10 inspiring 'Project 365' ideas: Take a photo a day to keep the creative block away

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Ever tried taking one photo everyday for a year? The thought alone seems daunting, but that’s exactly what Project 365 challenges you to do.

Photo by Evan Kirby

Although this year-long photography exercise takes real commitment, it’s a great way to develop your photography skills and boost your creativity. With the right mindset, it’s also fairly easy and fun to do. Try these 9 cool ideas to help you start your very first Project 365.

01. Create a photo journal.

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Screenshot of Adrian Morillo’s Instagram feed

If the idea of Project 365 intimidates you, try doing a photo journal. It’s the same as creating a regular journal, except that you’re uploading photos on the internet instead of writing your thoughts on a notebook.

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Photo by Razvan Narcis Ticu

With a photo journal, you don’t need to do anything that could seriously disrupt your daily routine. Just go about your regular activities and take a photo of what you consider the highlight of your day. It could be about anything from going to the beach to playing with your puppy at home.

When you upload your photo to your social media, write a caption that encapsulates how your day went. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts like you would on a regular journal. Strive to tell a good but honest story.

02. Take creative mirror portraits.

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Photo by Ludomil Sawicki

Since Project 365 is all about training your eye for photography, the challenge for you is to elevate mirror selfies into an art form. Mirrors offer a plethora of creative possibilities. Even before the invention of camera phones, many famous photographers, from Diane Arbus to Lee Friedlander, photographed themselves in front of the mirror.

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Photo by Matteo Vistocco

Find a cracked mirror, a framed mirror, or any reflective surface to give your portrait some character. Before you shoot, study your reflection and figure out the best angles. Good composition applies even when it comes to mirror selfies.

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Photo by Tiko Giorgadze

03. Recreate iconic images.

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Photo by Tyler Bolken

Put yourself in the mind of your favorite photographers by recreating some of their famous images. Copying someone else’s work may seem unoriginal, but it’s a great way to polish your skills and gain some insight into how your heroes develop creative ideas.

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Photo from National Park Service

It’s up to you if you want to make it serious or funny. You can be meticulous and copy an image precisely, or be more adventurous and recreate famous photos (or artwork) using found objects at home. Do your best to copy the pose and the composition exactly. Otherwise, it won’t be as effective.  

It can be challenging to commit to recreating works of other photographers because of all the planning and execution required, but it’s worth trying at least once during your project. You may be replicating somebody else’s work, but often, you’ll end up with images that reflect more about you than the photographer that you are imitating.

04. Go treasure hunting.

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Photo by Clark Tibbs

Pick an everyday object that you always encounter in the streets as your subject. It could be a phone booth, fire hydrant, neon sign, mailbox, or anything that you may find interesting. You can also look for things that look like faces, heart-shaped objects, or just about anything that appears like something else.

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Photo by Jon Tyson

Walk around the neighborhood and take a photo every time you see your chosen object. Pay close attention to the ones that look distinctive. For example, you can build a photographic collection consisting of only fire hydrants with graffiti on them, or mailboxes that look like tiny houses.

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Photo by Yan Ots

Taking pictures of mundane objects may seem too ordinary at first, but after doing it for a while, you’ll realize that there’s always something unique in everything you find.

05. Choose a color scheme.

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Photo by Dmitri Popov

Put your knowledge in color theory to use by choosing only one color or a palette of several colors in your photographs. It doesn’t matter what you photograph, as long as every picture you take features only the colors that you chose.

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Photo by Ken Treloar

You can pick any color that you like, but make sure it will pop out in your photos. You don’t want your Project 365 gallery to look dull and monochromatic. Choose complementary colors to help your viewers distinguish the different elements in your photographs.

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Photo by Ferdinand Stohr

Since you’re limited to photographing subjects with specific colors, it would take some effort and a lot of dedication to maintain your theme. But with perseverance, you’ll end up with an eye-catching gallery that everybody will love. 

06. Take portraits of friends.

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Photo by Michael Dam

Make your Project 365 a shared experience by taking photos of your friends and family. To hone your skills as a photographer, don’t just take snapshots of your loved ones; create intimate images that capture their personality.

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Photo by Fabian Moller

Sometimes even your closest friends get nervous posing in front of the camera. Make the portrait session fun for your pals by asking them to dress up and pose for you. Let them wear costumes or pretend like famous people; this will help them loosen up and allow their personalities to shine through.

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Photo by Sam Manns

When you post the portraits online, share a fond memory or mention one positive attribute about them in your caption. There’s nothing like telling your loved ones that they’re a big part of your life.

07. Take selfies in front of interesting backgrounds.

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Photo by Oskar Krawczyk

Take selfies in front of beautiful backgrounds such as walls with bright colors or dazzling patterns. You can also look for environs that give your followers an idea where you are or what you’re doing. It could be in front of a crowd during a concert, or in front of a movie screen while you’re watching a film at the drive-thru.

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Photo by Djamal Akhmad Fahmi

Unlike regular selfies, however, you need to make sure that your selfies are well-composed. Stand in the middle of the image, but don’t fill the whole frame with your face. Show enough of the background so people could see what’s behind you. Be consistent with your pose. You’ll know if you’re doing it right if you look like you were photoshopped in every single picture (which for this particular concept is not a bad thing).

At the end of the project, you have the option to turn those photos into a short video with your face in front of continually changing backgrounds. While this is not necessarily an original idea, it’s definitely worth a try.  Even if you maintained the same pose in every picture, you’ll be surprised to see how much you’ll have changed in a year.

08. Take a Polaroid a day.

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Photo by Jakob Owens

Dust off your polaroid camera and use it to chronicle your adventure-filled year. What makes polaroid photos interesting is that they make everything look nostalgic. Apart from how easy it is to use a polaroid camera, you can also see the results almost instantly.

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Photo by Rachael Crowe

For many years, the polaroid camera was the weapon of choice for many photographers in documenting their lives. One notable “A Photo A Day” website features a photographer and filmmaker who documented his daily life using polaroids from 1979 until his death in 1997 – decades before Project 365 entered the photography scene.

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Photo by Soragrit Wongsa

One of the most significant advantages of using polaroids for your project is that at the end of the year, you will have real 365 pictures that you can actually hold. We all know there’s nothing more satisfying than having physical evidence of something you worked hard to finish.

09. Share your daily fortune cookie quotes.

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Photo by Pittaya

Try unique themes like cracking a fortune cookie every day and taking a photo of the message inside it. People love reading inspiring quotes so it doesn’t hurt to give them what they want. Afterall, sharing your daily fortune cookie wisdom with them might just brighten up their day.

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Photo by Quinn Dombrowski

Choose a background that goes well with the fortune cookie message. If your quote of the day talks about a “bright future,” take a photo of it with the sky in the background to support what the quote conveys. You can also experiment with shallow depth of field (known to some as Bokeh) to direct the viewer’s attention to what’s written on the paper.

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Photo by Robert Couse-Baker

While you’re at it, take note of the “prophecies” that fortune cookies offer about your future. It would be interesting to see if any of those predictions become a reality at the end of your project.

10. Take on challenges from other people.

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso

Can’t think of what to shoot next? Join daily and weekly challenges on Instagram, Flickr, and other social media sites. Not only will you get to participate in these contests, but you will also have the opportunity to see inspiring photographs posted by other people.  

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Photo by Jazmin Quaynor

Consider taking on daily challenges from other people as well. Look for Project 365 calendars online (there are many) and choose one that you find the most engaging. Many people found it easy to start their project this way, so feel free to give it a try.

Photo by Joao Silas

Another option is to look for new ideas from other people’s Project 365 galleries. Find the most successful Project 365 collections online and study them. Ask yourself: What makes them compelling? What makes them successful? List the best concepts you find online and try them for your project. Give them your own creative spin to make your project original.