When asked for advice by people just getting into photography, I would say the best thing I ever did was a photo a day project for a year. My friend from college had gotten her camera and came up with the idea that we would start a blog, and each of us would post a photo a day to a post, for an entire year. She had seen the idea of photo a day projects, and thought it would be a great idea for us to do one together to motivate the other to keep up with it.
The rules were pretty simple. The picture for the day had to be taken that day, but could be posted later if necessary. You couldn't just go out and take a bunch of pictures at the end of the week and post them for the week if you fell behind. If I was the first person to post a picture for the day, I would start the blog post and save it as a draft. Then she would add her picture and publish the post for that day.
Forcing yourself to take a picture a day is a great way to learn how to use your camera. It's also a great way to keep your eyes open for all sorts of shots. I was constantly thinking about getting my daily shot, and carried my camera around everywhere.
I would wander around the city taking pictures of random events, like a wedding photo shoot (?) in Central Park.
I would plan days to set up specific shots with my macro lens and tripod.
I'd also take pictures of random objects that caught my eye that I thought would make interesting contrasts to whatever my friend would post. I saw this rusty chain and lock, and thought what in the world would she take a picture of today? I was going into New York City a lot to get shots, and she was living in the midwest with her husband and two kids. The subject matter of our pictures made for nice contrast.
About nine months into the project, my friend stopped posting. She had fallen behind before so I didn't think much of it. She had two kids and was always super busy. This time was different though. The posts just suddenly stopped, hence the reason you'll see September 3, 2010 as the last post. After that, she went quiet. Never really heard from her again. Maybe a sporadic email here and there, but never contact to the point where we started talking again so I could ask what happened to the project.
I ended up finishing the project on my own, and posting my pictures on their own as a photo a day project.
It has always bothered me that we never finished our blog. It was something I was really into, and for it to suddenly be incomplete has stayed with me for a long time. Recently, I've started thinking about past friends that I've fallen out of touch with, so I reached out and jokingly gave her a hard time about not finishing the project. Point blank. Out of nowhere.
I'm really glad I did. She responded immediately. It turns out that she went through some difficult personal stuff during that time at the end of the project, and had to disconnect. Understandably. From my side, it was almost like a huge question had been answered that had been lingering for way too long. It will take time, but I'm hoping we start talking again like we did before.
I will always continue to try and push myself to keep people in my life that matter to me. I know I'll be happier in the end for doing so.