May 23, 2024

365 Photo Challenge – How to Start a Project


Creative people often struggle to remain inspired and productive. The 365 Photography Challenge is an ideal photography project to keep you motivated. But how can you come up with so many ideas of what to photograph every day?

There are many lists and information about calendar ideas for what to photograph for a 365 project. But these provide only a partial means to help you reach your potential as a photographer. A calendar full of photography ideas will have a limited effect on improving your skills.

You need more than a list to challenge you to take a photo every day for one year. Sure, it’s doable, but not in the most productive or creative manner. I got to thinking about what would be more practical than a simple calendar list. This could become a photography course teaching each step of the way on the 365 photo challenge.

Go beyond taking a photo a day for 365 days. Learn a new skill each day. Building on your photography experience. This will develop your abilities and creativity more than anything else.

What to Photograph Every Day of the Year

It can seem daunting to think of having to come up with 365 ideas all at once. The good thing is, you don’t have to. You don’t even need to consult a list or calendar to help you. But, if you think that would help, please do so. 

printed photos.

Sometimes, all you need is a little inspiration to get started, and creativity will grow from there. Being determined is vital. It’s up to you to make the choice to engage in a project and then stick with it. Sure, when you think of 365 photos, it is a challenge. But, like all the best journeys, when you take them one step at a time, you will arrive at your destination.

Remaining committed is a mixture of motivation and seeing your own progress. Keeping a positive mind about your project will help you reach your goal. Using various techniques can help you stay on track and be successful.

A step-by-step approach does not require you to map out on your calendar before you start everything you’ll photograph. What to photograph is best decided throughout the course of your 365 photography project. Imagining a list of 365 photo ideas is too much to digest all at once.

Bite-sized chunks are more appetizing and manageable. You’ll not choke on the concept when you approach it this way. 

Create a Short List of Ideas

Make a start with a short list of broad topics or subjects you like to photograph. Think of subjects you’ve already photographed and would like to improve on. What do you love to photograph? Include these things on your list.

Think of the 365 photo project as a process. It’s not about taking prize-winning photographs every day of the year. As you progress through the photo challenge, new ideas will naturally come to you. They may not always be based on what new subject to photograph. 

You will find that you may be more inclined to think about how to photograph the same subject in new ways. This is a different type of exercise. It will build your skill levels more as you progress.

photographer taking notes on a calendar.

How To Stay Motivated for the 365 Photography Challenge

Learning is a way of stimulating your creativity. When you learn something new, it’s natural to want to put it into practice. This is why I think asking how to start the challenge will help keep you motivated.

Picking a subject to photograph that interests you will help sustain your motivation. Thinking every day about how you can photograph your subject will keep your creativity flowing. Photo projects often focus on the ‘what.’ When you think more about the ‘how’, you find yourself getting out of your comfort zone and becoming more creative. 

Combine the ‘how’ with teaching, and your 365 project ascends to a whole new level. No longer will you have anxiety about what to photograph. This becomes secondary. The subject no longer seems so significant as the new technique or skill that is now the center of your attention.

Naturally, as you learn new skills, your desire to continue learning will grow. As you build on what you are learning, you can remain photographing the same subject or theme over time.

Select Theme Ideas

Having some theme ideas about what you want to photograph will help keep you on track. At the beginning, make a short list of a few ideas of themes you’d like to photograph. Choose subjects you already enjoy making images of, and pick a few others that will push you outside your comfort zone. A photo challenge should be fun, but it’s also best when it contains some specific challenges.

Working on a theme during your photo-a-day challenge, you will develop how you use your camera. Photographing the same subject can help keep you motivated to find new ways to make more creative images.

If you switch ideas of what to photograph too often, this can mean your project becomes fragmented. As you concentrate on learning a new skill each day, you can apply it to your theme. Over time, as you look back, this will help you better see the progress you are making.

The project does not have to be a rigid exercise. Remaining flexible as you learn will help you develop your photography. It can become something different than you may have thought at the beginning. Working on a theme and seeking to apply the new skills you are learning, your project images will reflect your growth.

Document Your Challenge with More than Images

Keeping a journal or writing a blog as you progress through your 365-day challenge is beneficial for many reasons. Photographers who record moments they learn something new are more likely to retain that knowledge. It will last beyond the length of their projects. 

If you have many followers on social media, you may like to work at publishing at least one image a day. Consider sharing a short piece of text that will provide a picture of your thoughts as well. This will help others better understand how you are creating your photographs and why.

Maybe you don’t want to be so public as to share your images so publicly. Even a private account kept in a journal that you can look back on is a helpful exercise.

documenting the progress made every day.

Make Good Notes

Making good notes as you work through each day will enhance what you are learning during your project. Note down what you are doing and thinking as you take photos. Record not only your camera settings but what you are observing and even how you are feeling. Taking these actions will serve as prompts when you get further on in your project.

During the course of a calendar year, your day-by-day challenge images will build into quite a collection. The more you can clearly document what you are doing each day with the challenges, the more beneficial these notes will be as life goes on.

Possibly, you have friends you want to share your photo project with, but not all your social media followers. You can set up a new account and make it an invitation only. This will be a great way to build a community around your project without it being available to all people.

You can share tips with them about what you are learning. This could encourage your photographer friends to also participate in the challenge.

group of photographers.

Publish Your 365 Photo Challenge Images

As you work through your challenge, be sure to keep a selection of the favorite pictures you take in a separate folder. Take time post processing them so each image looks as good as you want it to. 

Using your camera every day will likely mean you are not taking just one photo per day. You will accumulate lots of photos over the course of the year. Unless you progressively select some of the best photos from each day, you’ll end up not seeing your best images as your skill level develops.

Keeping a favorites folder will serve as a great encouragement. You will be able to see back to the beginning of the new year or whenever you started. This will show you how much your photos have improved during your challenge.

Publishing photos in a private journal or on social networking platforms can also help keep you motivated. Knowing other people will see your photos should spur you on to keep consistent with your commitment to take a photo a day for a full calendar year. It can add another level of fun and inspire other photographers to try the 365 photo challenge as well.

photographer taking pictures.

Be Prepared – Have Your Camera With You Every Day

You won’t even take one photo a day if you don’t carry your camera with you most of the time. Make a habit of carrying your camera. You don’t need to take all of your camera gear. Pick your favorite lens on only take that with you.

If you have more than one lens, alternate them. You might want to limit yourself to using only one lens per month. Working with minimal camera gear will push you outside to be more creative.

Making your camera a constant part of your life, you’ll develop a different attitude to it. You will become more familiar with your camera, and it will become like a good friend to you. Part of the exercise is taking it with you. Another part is actually using it. Be mindful to make at least one image each time you have a moment to spare. 

Work into your daily routine the time you want to take at least one picture per day. Adding this as a regular occurrence to your calendar will help you succeed.


To make a single list of ideas is too big of a task for many people. It seems far too difficult even to make the list, let alone take at least one picture a day to complete such a task.

Break down your ideas into manageable modules. Think about how to make this practical and achievable. Carry your camera and make it a part of your everyday life. As you do this, you’ll begin to build a healthy habit. When this happens, the 365 photo challenge will become a reality that has the potential to change your life in wonderful ways.

Manage the Photos You Take for the Photography Project

It is important to manage the photos you take for your photography project. You will end up taking a lot more photos than 365. This is the nature of digital photography. You end up with far more photos than you know what to do with.

Become a master at deleting the images you know you will never look at again. The ones that are out of focus or poorly exposed. These should be ditched immediately. They will not only take up space on your cards and hard drives, but they will also distract you from editing your best photos. 

With a 365 project, the most efficient way to manage your images is to store them by the date you took them. This way, you know what you took when you took it. If you want to be more precise in your filing, you can add keywords or tags to your photos. You will then be able to search for these terms and find all the relevant images.

Engaging in a Photography Community

Engaging in a photography group or community will help you achieve your goal of completing the 365 days of photography course. On our website, we host such a community.

This is where you can share your photos and be supported in your efforts to improve your skills. Feedback is positive and encouraging, and your questions are answered by others who are enjoying learning photography in this format.

Take time to post frequently and engage in discussions about photography and you are sure to enhance your photography learning experience more than if you complete the lessons and challenges on your own.

I hope you have found these tips to be helpful and encouraging. Please let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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