365 Photo Project

UPDATE, 1/1/16:

This year we’re doing something a bit different: a 52-week photo project. I’m leaving the original 365 here (and may revise it for 2017), but if you’d like a project that’ll challenge you to go a bit deeper with your photography, start here.

Welcome to The First 10,000’s Project 365. I’d like to lay out some ground rules to get things started. Let’s keep this simple, shall we?

1. Use any camera you want.
2. Interpret the assignments as literally or as loosely as you’d like.
3. Use only your own photos, unless the assignment specifies otherwise
4. Shoot something, anything, every day. If that means flipping the script on an assignment, so be it.
5. You may delay an assignment. Let’s say today’s assignment involves birds and you’re going to a bird sanctuary tomorrow. Do today’s assignment tomorrow, and slot tomorrow’s assignment into one of the free shoot days. Again, the important thing is the photos.
6. Don’t do anything stupid or illegal to get your photos. Common sense and safety first, OK?
7. 48-Hour Rule: If you’ve shot something in the last 48 hours that just happens to fit the challenge on a given day, feel free to use it. No fair going back to stuff you shot in 2008, unless that day’s project calls for it (and a couple will)
8. Rules for the Flickr group are posted on its page; any photos found to be in violation will be deleted immediately. To view or post to the group, visit http://www.flickr.com/groups/10000-365/


What’s with so many projects? The last time I ran the project — starting in the middle of 2012 — one of the most common bits of feedback I received was that some of the projects were a little too difficult to do in a single day. If I’m going to be honest, I even stumped myself a few times. I thought that this time, it’d be nice to give a handful of options to keep things going, since the goal isn’t to beat your head against the wall, it’s to get yourself out there and make photos. I’d rather this was something you did for the joy of it rather than having it be just one more obligation.

Uh, it’s the middle of March (or June, or September). I’m a bit late. Can I still do this? Why not? You can either start with today’s project (whenever “today” happens to be) (yes, I know, it’s technically always today… cut that out), or you can scroll down past the rules and click the link for Day One and start there.

What if I don’t want to do that day’s project or I’ve tried and I’m stuck? I’m sure at some point, that will make two of us (see above). Feel free to mix and match from different projects, choosing one ahead of time that looks like it might be fun and using it to challenge yourself. In any event, give it your best shot. If it just isn’t working, try something else for that day, and then return to the challenge another time. The point of this is to shoot something every day; if you’re doing that, everything else is secondary.

Why are you specifying a project for each day? Are you some kind of control freak? Not really. When I decided to do a 365 project, though, I had two things to keep in mind: one, I’m a guy who tries to teach about photography by doing it and writing about it. It seemed silly to just shoot any old thing and then write about it. The other issue made itself evident as I talked to people who had started their own 365 Projects and crapped out partway in. They ran out of steam. The inspiration left, partly because they couldn’t figure out what to shoot after trying to shoot the same stuff for the preceding two weeks or six months. I want to succeed at this, and would like you to succeed, too. This seemed like a good way to go about it.

Everybody else’s 365 is just self-portraits. Can’t I just do that? Sure, if that’s your thing. Mine’s not set up that way, ‘cause I hate taking my own photo, and only dislike having my photo taken somewhat less than that.

Do I need a certain kind of camera for this? Not really. Some of the projects might be easier, or give you more options, with an SLR, but I’ve tried to keep this structured in a way that anybody, with any kind of camera, can do this.

Do you have a 31-day or 52-week project? Kinda. If you see this post, or this one, or even this one, there are some suggestions for shorter projects. There’ll also be an insanely detailed 52-week version coming, but I plan on using this year’s project as a dry run of sorts, since it’s going to have much different structure and content. If you want all the projects in one place, they’re in this document: 2013 10,000-365 (Right click and “save target as” to download; it’s a Word file, so it’ll open with Word or Open Office).

Can I share what I’ve shot? Yes, please! I’ve set up a Flickr pool for people trying this challenge, and you’re welcome to post there (just read and observe the rules, please). If you have your own blog, Tumblr, Flickr or other site where you’re posting your project, send the link along. I’d like to see this become a community. If you don’t have somewhere to share your work, or don’t want to share all your results but you’ve got a photo every now and then you’d like to share, send it along.

I have a question, or a suggestion, for a project. Great. Send it in! If I use your suggestion (and it’s not a project that was already on my list), you’ll get a shout out. The project documents, and the projects themselves, are posted under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license, so feel free to share/modify to your heart’s content (within the bounds of the CC license).


The projects are set up to start off easier, and to get a bit more difficult as time passes. The first month in particular is meant to familiarize you with different elements of composition, camera settings, etc. (or to prompt you to stretch out a bit if you’re already familiar with all of that stuff). The following months’ titles will give you an idea of what you’ll be in for during that month. There will be explanations posted for the days that might require one; otherwise, if you have questions or comments, feel free to send an email.

JANUARY: A Few Fundamentals


  1. Checkpoint 1: Choose one landmark. Choose carefully, because you will shoot this one day per month for the next year.
  2. Checkpoint 2: Self-portrait. You will shoot one of these per month for the next year, not including shots for other projects.
  3. Checkpoint 3: The View From Your Window
  4. Checkpoint 4: Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Photograph something terrible
  6. This one will require some research: find a building that’s about to be torn down, or a business that’s about to change hands. Photograph a “before”
  7. Shoot one photo per hour today
  8. Lines
  9. Perspective
  10. Shape
  11. Color
  12. Texture
  13. Light
  14. Shadows
  15. Reflections
  16. Side lighting
  17. Backlighting
  18. Fill Flash
  19. High Angle
  20. Low Angle
  21. POV Shot
  22. Frame Within the Frame
  23. Long Exposure
  24. Time
  25. Movement
  26. Pattern
  27. Repetition
  28. Depth of Field
  29. Timelapse
  30. Disorient (portrait versus landscape: if you shoot with one, use the other, or try something against type, like a landscape done in portrait)
  31. What kind of photographer are you? If you’ve been shooting for a while, shoot something that epitomizes your style. If you’re just getting started, look over your work from this month and give it some thought; where do you think you might be going, or might like to go, with your photography?

FEBRUARY: The Elements of Style

  1. Landmark checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Take a shot of your camera(s)
  6. Many times, we shoot with an ideal viewer in mind. Think of who yours might be, and shoot something for them.
  7. Photograph something while looking at it upside down or sideways
  8. Find a famous photo from the past and recreate it as best you can.
  9. Go to an antique shop, your local library, or historical society and find a photo of what an area looked like a century ago. Get a shot of what it looks like today, taking care to align the shot and focal distance the same way
  10. Ancestors
  11. Inheritance
  12. Passport
  13. Learn A Rule, And Use It
  14. Pick Another Rule, Use It, Then Break It
  15. Find a classic artwork, then copy it.
  16. Collage (at least one of the photos must be yours)
  17. Montage (at least one of the photos must be yours) Heartfield
  18. Assume a persona (Sherman)
  19. “Intervene” in a photo. Without using Photoshop or any other program – that means you’re stuck with non-computer, non-photographic media – do something new to a photo from a past day’s shooting.
  20. What kind of photographer shoots…? Find something that you think nobody in their right mind would photograph. You now have permission to take leave of your senses; photograph it.
  21. Find a photographer you like, and attempt something in his/her style
  22. If your camera allows you to change its aspect ratio, do that, and see if it changes how you approach your shooting.
  23. Photograph your other four senses:  Smell
  24. Photograph your other four senses:  Hearing
  25. Photograph your other four senses:  Taste
  26. Photograph your other four senses: Touch
  27. Now, photograph your “sixth sense”
  28. Shoot for a different purpose (not your usual reason for shooting)

MARCH: Easy There, Steady Now

  1. Landmark checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Elements: Earth
  6. Elements: Wind
  7. Elements: Fire
  8. Elements: Water
  9. Smoke
  10. What’s for breakfast?
  11. What’s for lunch?
  12. What’s for dinner?
  13. Create a triptych
  14. Your zodiac sign
  15. Toys
  16. What’s On Television?
  17. Windows
  18. Doors
  19. Mirrors
  20. Secret life of (toys, food, etc)
  21. Body parts
  22. Black and White
  23. Landmark Checkpoint
  24. Portrait Checkpoint
  25. Free day: Shoot what you like
  26. Sleep
  27. liquid
  28. abstract
  29. shoes
  30. Handwriting
  31. photo booth

APRIL: The Art of Storytelling

  1. Landmark checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Quick, think of a title. Now make a photo to go with it.
  6. Photograph something that scares you.
  7. Find a photo from your past and recreate it as best you can
  8. Photograph somewhere you take for granted
  9. Photograph yourself five years ago
  10. Photograph yourself five years from now
  11. Tell a story in three to five photos
  12. Photograph your childhood
  13. process (someone making/doing something)
  14. How do you feel right now? Without taking a self-portrait, capture it in a photo.
  15. Shoot a self-portrait with someone else as the subject.
  16. Shoot someone else’s portrait using yourself as the subject.
  17. One photo per hour to chart your day
  18. Photograph something you’ve forgotten
  19. Stories without words
  20. Cemetery
  21. Destination shoot
  22. Shoot where you are
  23. Home
  24. Solitude
  25. Make your own photographic hoax (Nessie, fairies, ghosts, etc)
  26. When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Photograph that now.
  27. Think of a hobby or interest you’ve got that has nothing to do with photography; photograph something based on that.
  28. Photograph something objectively. Then read this (link photographic objectivity). How objective were you?
  29. Find someone with a story to tell. Get their story, and their photo.
  30. Too bad we don’t all have a photographer to document our day and make us feel important. Follow someone today (with their consent, preferably) and document theirs.

MAY: Photography On Purpose:

  1. Landmark checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Find an advertisement for a fast food meal, then photograph what yours looked like.
  6. The movie poster of your life
  7. House beautiful: Interior
  8. House Beautiful: Exterior
  9. Create an advertisement for something silly
  10. Create a cover for your favorite magazine (or one that doesn’t exist yet)
  11. Find/write poem or haiku then illustrate
  12. Create a greeting card
  13. Create a postcard for your favorite shooting spot
  14. Photograph the alphabet using only shapes in nature
  15. Using only signs and billboards, photograph the entire alphabet today. One sign per letter. Collage the results.
  16. Create an alternate cover for your favorite album
  17. Create an alternate cover for your favorite book
  18. Create a poster for your favorite film
  19. Numbers without numbers
  20. Look over some of the products in your kitchen cabinets (or anywhere else you’ve got lots of stuff in packages and boxes). Come up with an alternate package for one of them.
  21. Photograph something in crappy lighting (i.e. at noon, in the dark, or on an overcast day)
  22. Find two things you like that don’t necessarily go together, put them together, and photograph the results.
  23. Create a calendar photo. Would you look at this photo every day for the next month?
  24. Pet photo (your own or someone else’s)
  25. Shoot the “wrong” way (product photography like a portrait shoot or vice versa, for instance)
  26. Photograph something new/current that brings to mind something old
  27. Memento Mori
  28. Find an interesting shot of a shop window
  29. Get a shop or restaurant interior (with permission)
  30. Food photography
  31. Product Demo

JUNE: The Social Photographer

  1. Landmark checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Let’s Go Shopping!
  6. Photograph someone in their element
  7. Photograph someone clearly out of their element
  8. Go somewhere you fit right in
  9. Shoot somewhere you stick out like a sore thumb
  10. Hand the camera to someone you trust
  11. Shoot with a buddy
  12. Collaborate
  13. costumes
  14. Public Transportation
  15. Let’s go shopping! (PoWM)
  16. Body Art
  17. Shoot a performance or performer
  18. Everyday is Halloween
  19. The Columbo Photo (“Just one more thing…”)
  20. Street fair
  21. Find a prop and take it with you when you shoot (tie in Duck Show)
  22. Shoot in a group (three or more, but the more the merrier)
  23. street vendor
  24. Shoot from a moving vehicle
  25. Usually take posed photos of people? Take a candid. Usually take candids or photojournalistic shots? Pose someone.
  26. Photograph a game (any kind, from football to Monopoly)
  27. Find a new favorite place to photograph (and photograph it)
  28. Find a tourist attraction or landmark in your area that’s had its picture taken very often and find a new way to tell its story
  29. Find something newsworthy in your area and “cover” it.
  30. Shoot “undercover.”

JULY: Randomness

  1. Landmark Checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. You’re just past the halfway point in the project. Congratulations! Your assignment for today: look at your shooting style up to this point, and see if any patterns are emerging either in your subject matter or your shooting style. Now, change something in how you shoot, even if it’s just for today.
  6. Day of Rest: You’re more than halfway through the project; take a day to recharge your camera’s batteries (and your own), though you’re welcome to shoot if you just can’t resist the urge.
  7. Something that makes you angry
  8. Yin and Yang
  9. Mystery
  10. Discovery
  11. Landscape
  12. Panorama
  13. Still Life
  14. Sound
  15. Take a photo of a song
  16. Shoot something silly
  17. Architecture
  18. Juxtapose
  19. Love
  20. Hate
  21. Insomnia
  22. WTF?
  23. Industry
  24. Clouds
  25. Blur
  26. Ghost Town
  27. Impressionism
  28. Watercolor
  29. Bubbles
  30. Cornucopia
  31. Trees

 AUGUST: Further Randomness

  1. Landmark Checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Overprocess a photo
  6. Winter
  7. Spring
  8. summer
  9. Fall
  10. What’s on television?
  11. You left the house like that?
  12. Bookshelf
  13. WTF
  14. Parade
  15. Holidays
  16. Inspiration
  17. For the Love of Money
  18. pinhole
  19. Volunteer
  20. Business
  21. Flea market
  22. Tranquility
  23. opposites
  24. Photograph a bad habit
  25. Macro
  26. Landscape
  27. Panorama
  28. Still Life
  29. Gravity
  30. Levitate
  31. Photograph a street scene or landscape after dark

 SEPTEMBER: Getting Warmer…

  1. Landmark Checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. PSA
  6. Create a photographic tarot card
  7. Take a portrait of a complete stranger.
  8. Stills from a video for your favorite artist
  9. Find a face in an everyday object
  10. Recreate a scene from a movie
  11. Capture a lovely sunset.
  12. Shoot the Moon
  13. Hands
  14. feet
  15. kids
  16. broken
  17. time
  18. picture of a picture
  19. Strength
  20. Public Transportation
  21. Photograph something you don’t normally like to photograph
  22. Shoot something insignificant
  23. Yin and Yang
  24. Mystery
  25. Discovery
  26. Paranormal
  27. The Search
  28. Last Train Home
  29. Flight
  30. Freedom

 OCTOBER: Stretching out

  1. Landmark Checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. What did this look like before you photographed it?
  6. Take a shot of something impossible
  7. Shoot something from every angle you can manage.
  8. Shoot only one photo today.
  9. Assuming you have more than one camera, shoot with a different one today
  10. Buy a cheap film camera (like a disposable) and use that today.
  11. Photograph something you’d rather not photograph
  12. Photo within a photo
  13. Zen painting
  14. Do you have a visual/stylistic “crutch”? Cast it off today.
  15. If you generally shoot on the fly, take time to set something up; if you’re a control freak, let go today.
  16. Close your eyes and shoot by following your other senses
  17. If you’ve been shooting in automatic all this time, shoot in manual. If you’ve been shooting in manual, give up a little control for a day and shoot in auto.
  18. Go through your camera’s menus (or, better still, its manual) to find a feature you haven’t used before, and use it today.
  19. Pairs: Shoot once impulsively, and the same subject with closer attention
  20. Shoot with only a prime lens today. If you only own zooms, or if you’re using a camera with a fixed lens, choose a single focal length and stick with that. If you want a tighter or wider shot, use your feet.
  21. Try your hand at light painting
  22. Photograph as an archaeologist
  23. Photograph as a sociologist
  24. Create a picture in response to something (another photo, a song, a novel, anything you’d like)
  25. Use the smallest part you can to tell the story of the whole
  26. Photograph something hopelessly cluttered
  27. Photograph the absence of something
  28. Find a quote you love and “illustrate” it with a photo.
  29. Chance/accident on purpose
  30. Begging Bowl
  31. What is real to you?

NOVEMBER: Wherein we get seriously abstract

  1. Landmark Checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Photograph something parenthetical
  6. Photograph a prayer
  7. Photograph a wish
  8. What does hope look like?
  9. Lust
  10. Gluttony
  11. Greed
  12. Sloth
  13. Wrath
  14. Pride
  15. Envy
  16. Chastity
  17. Temperance
  18. Chastity
  19. Diligence
  20. Patience
  21. Kindness
  22. Humility
  23. Find something that cannot be photographed and photograph it anyway.
  24. From today’s shooting, find something that’s imperfect but works anyway.
  25. Find the beauty in something ugly
  26. Find the ugly in something beautiful
  27. Remix something
  28. Photograph a koan (see http://www.curatenyc.org/index.php/photography/item/833-peter-emerick-25-koans)
  29. “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” Photography is like ____ about ____. Photograph that.
  30. Photograph the distance from here to there

DECEMBER: Capstone

  1. Landmark checkpoint
  2. Portrait Checkpoint
  3. The View From Your Window
  4. Free day: Shoot what you like
  5. Photograph the “After” of your “Before” photo
  6. Evolution
  7. Decay
  8. Death
  9. Birth
  10. Infinity
  11. Soul
  12. Prayer
  13. Gratitude
  14. Minimalism
  15. Maximalism
  16. Make something common look uncommon
  17. Make something uncommon look common
  18. Find a photo that makes you say, “I could do better than that.” Now, do better.
  19. Take your photos from your checkpoint assignments (your landmarks and self-portraits) and collage them or create a time-lapse.
  20.  By now you have, or have started to form, an idea of what kind of photographer you are. Good! Now, shoot something against type.
  21. Good job on yesterday’s assignment. Now photograph something that epitomizes the photographer you think you’ve become, and best captures your style.
  22. You’re not done yet, and not done growing yet. Shoot something that tells you the kind of photographer you’d like to be.
  23. If a friend is starting their own 365 project, teach them a new skill. Share your results and theirs.
  24. Photograph something you don’t understand
  25. Gatherings
  26.  “Do Over”: go over your work from this project and choose one photo you wish you could have done differently; reshoot it.
  27. Photograph something you couldn’t have photographed when you started
  28. Choose a photo you like from the past year and print it.
  29. Create art cards; sell or distribute them
  30. Give that photo as a gift
  31. Find your best photo of the year and go public. Enter it in a contest (be careful of the terms), seek out a venue to display it… be creative!
  32. Now, start your next year of photography!

Creative Commons License
10,000/365 by Paul Bogan/The First 10,000 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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