365 Days with Hipstamatic
Good resolutions often coincide with significant dates and the first of January seems to be the one that most people take to heart. My resolution is to begin my own Project 365 as of next Sunday. Everybody’s heard of it and the idea is simple enough: a 365 project consists of taking one picture every day of the year, and at the end of that year, compiling it… or not. A simple principle but it can become quite a fascinating compulsion.
In order to prepare this article, I asked a few people who had finished an entire 365 project and what struck me most was their enthusiasm. The answers I got to my questions emitted true passion for the entire process. Some are up to their fifth project using only Hipstamatic.
The first question to ask is how you would proceed with Hipstamatic: one combo per week, a different combo every day? Some prefer not to be tied down by the idea of combos at all, like Muriel Allegretty: "I just chose the most interesting or significant picture of the day. I like keeping it eclectic."
(Photos: Muriel Allegretty)
Others prefer to use one same combo for a week by choosing the ones suggested on Facebook groups or Instagram, but nothing is ever written in stone. It’s an experience and it remains something malleable. Stephen Littrell undertook his first 365 project, two years ago: "In 2014 I began submitting to Facebook’s Hipsta365 group and shot their weekly combo. Later I began selecting photos from combos I came up with. After Hipstamatic 300 was issued, I began to edit pictures and tested different combos before selecting one to be my picture of the day…"
Another option, as suggested by Joe Morrissey, is to use the new HipstaPak, that’s released every first Friday of the month, which happens to be a really good way to get acquainted with the Hipstamatic catalogue.
Maria Georgiadou envisions a variation on the theme: "I'm thinking of starting a 52 weeks Hipstamatic project (one combo a week). This recipe can also be used in a 365 project, still with one combo a week."
(Photos: Stephen Littrell)
All of those who finished one or more Project 365’s support the following wholeheartedly: this kind of project helps you document day-to-day life. As Jay Jones puts it: "My wife and I have two little boys, ages 8 and 6, and I use my 365 projects to document our life as a family. But if they are more of a subject matter, as opposed to a theme, I guess the theme would be trying to capture the "little wonders" of our life together (h/t "Meet the Robinsons" and Rob Thomas)."
One of the recurring worries seems to be the idea of "flunking" your photo of the day, or just plain forgetting to take a single picture in the past 24 hours. According to Jay, you just need to use your imagination: "Sometimes it's 11:59 PM, you're at work and you don't have your photo of the day, so you whip out your iPhone and take a photo of a clock reading 11:59 PM."
The other thing you need to decide is how you will be compiling your 365 photographs. The easiest, tried-and-tested solution is, of course, the various social media sites, like Instagram, Flickr and Facebook. It’s as easy as making a "My Hipstamatic Year 2017" album on Facebook or Flickr, where you post your pictures.
On the other hand, not everyone wants his/her private life plastered all over the web, so there is the app-solution. Among those quizzed one in particular stood out: Project 365. It’s simple: you can of course use the app to make your picture, but what’s interesting for hipstographers, is that you can upload pictures from your library.
There is the complimentary version or there is the Pro version, which has no annoying ads and, a few of the bonuses are quite handy, such as the ability to save a month’s worth of photos and text, into one PDF. More info on its creator, Alvin Yu’s website.
There are surely more apps out there, like Collect for iOS, which Jay Jones supports. If you have any other suggestions or recommendations, feel free to let us know in the comments.
A virtual compilation of your 365 photos is obviously the easy solution, and a real-life version has to be the icing on the cake, but… who has time for that these days?
Joe Morrissey: "A book is something that I have never found the right time to make. As I haven't stopped since 2010, I'm waiting for the right moment. I thought it was at the one year point, then the 2 year, then the 5 year..."
Bob Textoris: "Up until now, I haven’t gotten round to printing them, but I’m thinking about a 1000-day book. It’s fascinating because it’s a real memento of your daily life. It helps me to remember minute details, the place, who I was with, the context of the situation… I’m really interested in editing it in book form, because everything is numbered and charted… It tells a story in coded language…"
(Photos: Bob Textoris)
As I said in the introduction, the experience that people go through when assembling this kind of project seems to reach beyond just merely documenting ones own life. There is real excitement that emanates from the results of this questionnaire and there are hidden perks too, it seems…
Ramón Cruz: "I have become more observant and improve my technique daily."
Stephen Littrell: "The project has been the most creative and rewarding things I have ever done. I look back on the 1,000+ pictures and I can remember taking most of them. I want to think that my photography has improved considerably during the past three years. The most important thing I learned was the pure joy associated with creativity."
Bob Textoris: "You’re basically imposing it upon yourself to take a picture every day; from the minute you wake up, you look at things differently. Your eye is constantly on the lookout for that detail, that original little feature, the right opportunity… and then there’s the moment you know that you’ve just shot your photo of the day: contract fulfilled with a distinct sense of lightness… There are also the days when nothing happens, the days when you have no inspiration, days that are just poor in imagery and emotion, when the anxiety surrounding the completion of the task grabs hold of you… you just have to find a subject… you just have to push your imagination to the limit…"
Jay Jones: "The iPhone alone has made me a better photographer. Period. Whatever gets me to make more photographs with my iPhone is a good thing. Has my photographic technique improved? Well, let's just assume for a second that I actually have some photographic technique… whatever that technique is has simply become more refined over the last couple of years. More than anything, I now know what I'm drawn towards. The trick, though, from this point forward, is how to push myself out of my comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory, while realizing that my time and subject matter is somewhat limited."
Joe Morrissey: "Shooting every day forced me to get out and shoot. Purely by going out and making some photos, I was going to make something greater than if I didn't do anything at all. Over time, shooting every day has shown me the importance of being consistent and being able to edit down from thousands of shots, to a single frame."
(Photos: Joe Morrissey)
Tricks of the trade
My questionnaire also asked the participants if there were any tips and tricks they would like to share with those about to attempt a 365 project. For Joe, it’s simple: "I would say to persevere. There won’t be an amazing photo every day, but the next day always holds the possibility for greater things."
Stephen Littrell quotes the photographer Dorthea Lange: "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera". He added: "I was much more likely in the beginning to have periods of not knowing what to shoot or feeling uninspired. That rarely, if ever, happens now. Sometimes my picture for the day is nothing more than a coffee cup – I have more than a few in my project – but each coffee cup pictures is different from the others. Even photographing a coffee cup can be an exercise in creativity and can be an easy thing to shoot when nothing else inspires. Not every day will produce a good photograph. I look at some of my pictures of the day and cringe. If you go a day without taking even a single picture, then it will be easier to skip more days in the future. Shoot every single day even if it’s that coffee cup in front of you. Make it a 365 Project, not a 364 Project."
And Katie Howell agrees: "After the first couple of months, Day 365 will seem so far away and extremely daunting to reach. Some days you'll be exhausted from work/life, and it will be extremely challenging to get in the mood to be creative. Just push through those days. Then it will become a habit and way of life. And when you reach the end, you will have all these photos and memories to show for it."
(Photos: Joy Coyle)
Bob Textoris: "It truly is fascinating, but be aware… it’s very addictive. When I stopped my 1000-day project, I really felt empty, even though I publish regularly. I have to say the fact that I was no longer bound by this daily obligation, of sorts, left a big hole in me. I find that it pushes and challenges your creativity; it’s permanent motivation… Your eye is constantly in action mode."
Maria Georgiadou: "I recommend to everyone to keep a very open mind (and eye!) and explore new shooting possibilities... everything around you can be an interesting photography subject. Even ugly things can be beautiful, if you shoot them correctly. Even if you find yourself stuck at home or at the office, there are objects of everyday use around you, waiting for you to make them look beautiful!"
Jay Jones: "My photography, my Instagram account, my 365 projects … they are all games. Much like Westworld's Maze, it's a game that's not meant for you - it's meant for me. And it's a game I play everyday. I challenge myself to take just one photo (I, of course, can, and do, take more … but I only need one). And I win the day when I "collect" that day's photo and publish it to Instagram. If you want to follow me on this journey, that's great. But I'm not doing this for an audience - the journey is mine alone."
(Photos: Ramon Cruz)
Don’t fall for it
It’s clear that there will be traps along the way, so it’s best to be prepared. Here are a few, as well as a few tips, to help you on your way to your own Project 365:
As far as Joe is concerned, it’s complacency: "Don't let yourself get comfortable. If you start finding the project easy, try something new. Comfort is the enemy of progress."
Katie Howell: "After a while, it will feel like there is nothing left to photograph. Don't quit even if it feels like you are trying to squeeze blood from a stone. It is possible to finish!"
Maria Georgiadou: "Don't shoot the same subject every day. Even if you find yourself in a lovely landscape, if your previous shot IS a landscape, just find something else to intrigue you. Also, even if your everyday schedule is full and pressured, DON'T miss your photo of the day... Just take 5 minutes of your time, look around you and find a subject! And if you do your project with Hipstamatic, don't lose yourself in trying to find the perfect combo, just make your picture beautiful! Overall, it's a fabulous experience and I recommend it to any photographer, amateur or professional. It expands your horizons, while making you way better!"
Susan Sanders: "I guess the one for me was wondering about putting time and energy into something that had no material compensation. The voice of Puritan ancestors. I decided to ignore those voices - doing something for the fun of it was all that was required."
(Photos: Susan Sanders)
Thank you to everyone who agreed to answer my questions! I hope this has whet your appetite and that you’re now also ready to throw yourself into the adventure! If you’re joining us for the ride, don’t forget to #hipstography your pictures.
This post is also available in: French