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Group Project 365: A Year in Review

by Philippe Dame on February 14th, 2012

A year ago today I kickstarted a project with friends that had a simple proposition: take one photo per week against a shared theme for one year. I called it “Group Project 365“.

My goal was to find six more participants so we could “own” a day of the week. We’d have one photo per day to critique and 365 photos by the time we were done. As of Saturday, this project has now come to an end.

We didn’t quite hit the goal of 365 photos but we did create around 275 unique and often compelling images. It proved true to me that giving yourself a project can really accelerate your learning in a subject. This format even added a group dynamic that became part peer review, part experience sharing and part competition. All of which kept us motivated and creative.

A Learning Project

I knew I’d never have time for a “traditional” 365 project where you take one photo a day for a year and post it somewhere. What surprised me and others, however, was how tough it became to create even just one photo a week.

What it did for us is ensure we scheduled real time for practicing our hobby of photography. It also got us to conceptualize shots we’d NEVER do normally. This pushed us creativity while simultaneously fast tracking learning on topics like lighting and Photoshop.

Many of the original group members fell behind and some had to ultimately drop off. Luckily we picked up some willing friends along the way kept moving forward. In all, there were 11 unique contributors to the project (some old friends of mine, others became friends by virtue of their participation).

So, if you’re new to photography, I strongly suggest you consider giving yourself a project. It doesn’t have to last a year but it must have a schedule of some kind … one that forces you to get things done. And it should to have at least one constraint to spur creativity.

It may seem counter intuitive but constraints really do unleash creativity. If you had to shoot all-macro shots for a month, I bet you’d create the most unique and interesting shots of your life… even if  you’ve owned that same macro lens for years.

For our project, the themes we selected created the required constraint. It definitely made it more challenging and fun. I was always excited each to week to see how everyone would interpret the same theme. Sometimes two people landed on the same concept, but usually everyone had their own creative take.

A Few Favourites

There are too many amazing photos to highlight from the past year but here’s a few standout contributions that might be of interest. Be sure to see everyone’s contributions by browsing the entire archive at: http://learningdslr.com/365

Outstanding Technical Achievement

Ideas of March by Adam Khodadeen (theme: Movie Scene)

Outstanding Creative Concept

Kill Bill by Catherine Le (theme: Urban Decay)

Outstanding Abstract

Long Exposure by Adam Khodadeen (theme: Vivid)

Outstanding Cityscape

Sheikh Zayed Road by Aaron Del Duca (theme: Lens Flare)

Outstanding Street Photography

Crazy Dave by Patrick Roy

Outstanding DIY Setup

Ocean Water in a Glass by Vinh Tieu (theme: Water)

Outstanding Creative Lighting

Graffiti by Jason Office (theme: Lighting Experiment)

My Own Personal Favourites

Here’s a few of my own submissions that I’m most proud of…

Ferrari F430 Spyder

Queen’s Lantern

A Mother’s Love

Deux De Lorimier

Boy in the Hood

Smoke Photography

Sweet Ending

Our final theme was “Self Portrait” and I was pleased to discover that my final submission garnered a big reaction on my favourite photo-sharing site 500px. For the first time, my submission rode the “Popular” roller coaster and made it as far as page 2 of the “Popular” list with a peak rating of 98.2 out of 100. I was a nice way to end the year.

Split Face by Philippe Dame

In conclusion, thank you to everyone that participated, it was a great year! If you were thinking about starting a project, there’s no time like the present. Don’t wait for someone else to get you started!

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