Join a photo project!

by Eszter Hargittai on December 31, 2012

It’s been a while since Chris and I have talked about our various photo projects and since many people like to use the New Year as a starting point for novel endeavors, I thought I would post about it while it is still 2012. I am talking about the idea of taking and sharing a photo with some regularity. Both Chris and I have participated in Project 365 (or the Photo-a-Day project) where you do this daily. It has been a fantastic experience for both of us. But since a daily commitment can be overwhelming for some (for most, in fact), I suggest trying a photo a week (Project 52 – 2013). I have started a new group on Flickr for this and will post a theme for each week. (There are similar groups on Flickr that do not have a theme and the daily project rarely has a theme.) Since many people now have a camera on their phones that they presumably have with them all the time, the technical aspect of this project should be less of a burden than even just five years ago. And thanks to various apps, uploading and sharing has become less of a hassle as well.

Why do this? Lots of reasons as Chris and I have both discussed in the past. To recap just a few, in no particular order:

  • Change how you see the world around you. That may sound grandiose, but looking for something worthy of a photo capture that you share with others makes you look for things around you that you may not notice otherwise. Before too long, even when you do not have your camera in front of your eyes, you start seeing things differently.
  • Take a regular breather. Day-to-day life can be too mundane or too hectic. This project jolts you out of your routine, it removes you from your usual tasks and forces you to take a few moments and examine your surroundings through a different lens in an attempt to find something worthy of a capture. You will start noticing pretty things in the everyday (whether in your office, your back yard, the street corner you pass by daily or your commuter route), which can be a great break from everything else. Plus it loops back to the point above about changing how you see the world.
  • Improve your photography not only because practice makes better, but sharing and discussing photos with others helps you realize what works and what does not. It encourages you to try new things you had not done before. It tends to be a forgiving project – perhaps because of its regularity – so there is not much pressure about messing up.

    Additionally, if you find yourself in the right group with enthusiastic commenters and participate in this way yourself, the project can also have a nice social component. The first time I participated in Project 365, I both got to know acquaintances better and got to meet new people I had not known at all. Friendships through these projects can easily outlast the project itself (I say this based on my 2006/07 experience participating in Project 365.)

    Ready to jump in? To help get you started, Flickr is giving away 3 free months of Pro account. (Speculations about its demise notwithstanding, Flickr just came out with a much improved smart phone app so it’s not dead yet!) I highly recommend Flickr for this thanks to its social component. Of course, you can use whatever platform you desire, but participating in a group with others engaged in the project is a huge plus and no site does this as well as Flickr for photo enthusiasts. You can join my new Project 52 – 2013 group here or, if you’re ready for a daily challenge, join us on E’s Project 365 (it’s not a problem that some of us have been at it for a while, you can start now).



    Chris Bertram 12.31.12 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks Eszter!

    Yes Flickr is definitely improving and seems to have been un-abandoned by Yahoo at last! I may join in the 52 version (365 proved too taxing last year) just so long as the rain stops in the UK for a few minutes per week (continuous downpour for a month now).


    JanieM 12.31.12 at 3:55 pm

    Does participating require a Flickr Pro account, or will the free account work?

    I did picture a day albums privately for about 3 1/2 years on Picasa. It started when my son went off to China for a year and I decided to take a picture each day for that year, not for him particularly, but as a way of working on my own awareness of the time passing. (“We are here to witness,” Annie Dillard.)

    It was a fantastic experience, but I stopped it almost a year ago, mostly due to my inability to resolve what to do about having exhausted the space in my free Picasa account. Okay, I’m a troglodyte, or I guess more of a Luddite — not about paying for services, which I would be very happy to do, about giving Google, or anyone, a credit card number for automatic recharges. But I think this part belongs on the other thread. ;)

    Like a commenter at your (Eszter’s) 365 post in 2007, I’m curious about how you made the video….

    I can certainly affirm that carrying a little camera in my pocket everywhere I go, with an eye to taking a picture at any moment, changed my way of looking at and (maybe) being in the world.


    Eszter Hargittai 12.31.12 at 4:46 pm

    Chris, it would be great to see you on P52 if not on P365! You lasted way longer on P365 than I did. I had to jump start three times to get it past 100 again (I’m at 130 now so that’s encouraging!). I’m trying to choose themes that will apply to people across the globe regardless of weather and such. I’ve decided to go by the alphabet in choosing themes. The first week is “Alive”, which should be general enough for whatever that inspires in people.

    JanieM, I don’t think that a Pro account is required for something like this. As far as I can tell, you can still post to and comment in a group even if you’re not Pro. The major limitation is that you can only have 200 photos showing at a time in your stream and likely will see ads. Note that I don’t think Flickr requires you to have automatic recharges to your account if you give it your credit card number. (By the way, I’m quite certain that Google does not either.)

    As for the video, good question. That was over five years ago. I probably took a simple video editing program (I know little about the topic so it must’ve been a simple one) and put the 365 photos into it as frames or something. It probably let me specify amount of time on each (I think I went with 1 second) and voila. I think Windows Movie Maker (a free download) likely allows for something like this (I don’t know the options for Macs).


    JanieM 12.31.12 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks, Eszter, I’ll check out Flickr and revisit the Google payment question. Maybe I’ll see you at P52.


    tomslee 12.31.12 at 7:54 pm



    Sumana Harihareswara 12.31.12 at 8:25 pm

    Tiny request: if you decide to participate in a project like this, consider licensing your photos under a permissive license like CC-BY-SA so that educational projects like Wikimedia Commons can reuse them!


    Eszter Hargittai 12.31.12 at 9:29 pm

    Indeed, CC (Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike) is my default setting on Flickr.


    Bill Benzon 12.31.12 at 11:18 pm

    I signed up but I’ve got real reservations about this theme business. I like walking the neighborhood and getting shots. Looking for shots that exemplify a certain theme, that seems rather artificial to me and even counter to the business of looking for visually interesting shots.


    Eszter Hargittai 01.01.13 at 5:50 pm

    Bill, there are countless photo projects on Flickr without themes. Feel free to join one of those and not participate in the one with themes if that’s not of interest. A search for 52 weeks should yield a bunch of these. I think it’s important that you join a project you’re excited about!


    Agog 01.02.13 at 10:32 am

    Maybe I can propose something for people who know they will never take a photo per day: one shot per month, one roll per year. Step one: get hold of a medium format camera (it would have to be 6 x 6 format; cheap 2nd hand ones are available on your favourite auction website!). Two: load it with a roll of 120 film. Three: you have twelve shots only, one per month – so your one and only January shot (and so on) is locked away until December or later, and you won’t know how it looks until you develop it.

    This way, you would only need to remember about the project one time each month, and could forget about the camera the rest of the time. But the stakes are really high each time….. Call it “12 for ’13”.


    Katherine 01.02.13 at 5:23 pm

    Well, I’ve signed up! I’ll be interested to see if I can keep it up. I know one photo a week sounds like chicken feed, but my self-motivation has never been the tops. I’m already finding the theme a good way to think about what to upload, so that definitely works for me. Thanks for this.


    Bill Benzon 01.02.13 at 8:45 pm

    Eszter, I know that Flickr is jammed with projects. I was interested in this one because it was connected with Crooked Timber, where I’ve been commenting for five or six years. But it’s no big deal. I’ll shoot scads of photos regardless of projects, etc.


    Eszter Hargittai 01.02.13 at 9:00 pm

    Bill, I appreciate that. I should note that I did publicize this group among other networks of mine and so not everyone in this group will have a connection to Crooked Timber.

    As people have joined, I now see an additional upside to having a theme. There are numerous 52 groups and some people just dump their images into all of them. With a theme, it’s more clear who has a commitment to a particular group.


    parse 01.03.13 at 12:49 am

    Bill, since you are going to shoot scads of photos, maybe you could use the theme in reverse–instead of trying to figure out what to shoot that illustrates the theme “Alive,” look at the pictures you’ve taken at the end of the week, and see which one works for the theme. Instead of the theme influencing how you look at the world, it influences how you look at your photos. That might be fun.


    Eszter Hargittai 01.03.13 at 11:02 pm

    Parse – neat idea, thanks for that suggestion!

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