The Creative Mama » inspiring art, encouraging women

Endings and Beginnings

So many are closing the door on the previous year and welcoming the promise of a new one.  Some of us do this with resolutions, cleaning house, perhaps with one little word.  This year I’m doing it with a picture-a-day.  Have you heard of a 365-project?  There are many forms, but the basis is taking one picture a day for an entire year.  It can be a shot of anything, done with film, DSLR, or camera phone.  Some brave souls embark on 365 self-portraits.  Some begin on January 1st, others on their birthday, or any random day when you are ready.  It is a big commitment.  One that can impart a lot of stress if not taken on with some humility and self-kindness.

I attempted a 365 project in 2010 … and failed.  A long winter, the drain of 3 young kids, and daily dramas led to my throwing in the towel.  I was pretty disappointed in myself, but in retrospect it was the right decision.  I wasn’t ready yet.  Then in 2010, with new resolve and a solid dose of realism, I tried again.  December 31, 2011 I finished.  Would you like to see a little bit?

I won’t lie — it was hard.  Hard to stay motivated.  Hard to shoot on sick days, busy days.  Hard to look at a shot that I felt I could have done better.  Hard to think I’d captured one thing, only to find, late in the day while processing, that it didn’t turn out anything like I’d expected (yes this can still happen when shooting in the digital age! that LCD is small!).  Toward the end I was just trying to finish and say I’d made it.  Then I took a morning to make a video of the entire year (you can see it here).  And it transformed the experience.  I’d heard others talk of this, but didn’t believe until it happened to me.  I got weepy, and I am not a weepy gal.

I’ve gained a lot by this experience.  I mentioned some of the benefits before, but I was surprised how different I felt when I looked at the project as a whole.  Do you think it’s time to begin this journey? Then join US!  Several of The Creative Mama contributors are embarking on a 365 project — although beware, this is a leap year so it really is a 366 project!.  To foster your creativity and support you with a community, we’ve created a group to share your images and chat about your experience on Flickr, a photo sharing website.  The group is a public group, anyone can join.  If you already participate on Flickr, you can find us here, or go to flickr.com and set up an account.

There are tons of ideas on the internet to help you with your 365 journey.  Our own Stacey Woods wrote about approaching your project with an eye on gratitude.  Along those same lines, there is a Flickr group who focuses on a year of living positively.  There are sites dedicated to 365 projects that can help you get started, or guide you on how to archive and present your completed project.  You can find advice from experienced 365-ers.  Using your iPhone and Instagram can be a great way to make your project simple.  There are tons of options for making prints and books from your instagram photos.  And you can share them with The Creative Mama by adding the hashtag #creativemama366.

There are no rules, except those you set for yourself.  And don’t be surprised if you find them changing along the way.  However you approach it, don’t let it overwhelm you — just jump in and figure it out as you go!  Join a Flickr community, share on your blog or start a photoblog, post in Instagram — but start documenting your life.  You will be amazed at what you find.

TCM Contributors on the 365 bandwagon:

  • Amy Bader  Flickr
  • Bree Hester  Tumblr, instagram–bakedbree
  • Kelli France instagram–kellifrance
  • Hannah Mayo Tumblr, instagram–hmayophoto
  • Shannon Harrison instagram–shannonharrison
  • Alison Bickel instagram–thishomemadelife
  • Erin Cobb (finished 2011) Take Two

Each month we will be featuring one image from The Creative Mama 365 Flickr pool.

About Amy


Amy Bader is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. A photography course in high school sent her to college with a journalism degree in mind, but some surprises along the way led to a career in veterinary medicine. Motherhood has brought things full circle, and now she is concentrating on her photography, finding her creative self and expressing the joys in life. When she isn’t chasing her boy/girl twins, helping her older son with homework, washing the dog, or cooking a meal -- she is probably watching some new tutorial or dreaming of art supplies. It’s a crazy life, but a good one.

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  • bentley

    I’m doing this thanks to you! can’t wait to see my results.

  • http://makeithappenmama.blogspot.com/ Emily @ Make It Happen Mama

    My 365 project is a Thankfulness Journal. Every day this year, I will write one thing that I am thankful for – big, small, whatever. No explanation, just an acknowledgement.

  • Alicia

    I LOVED your video Amy. It really gives a different perspective to the whole thing. And the photos you shared were wonderful. Thank you for sharing (I came over from UK Mama). I too am doing my first Project 365 (366). I think if you are willing to share, it is a good thing to be a part of groups doing this so you can keep each other motivated. Thank you for the flickr group.

  • Kimberly Knight

    I started a 365 project this year. I’ve done it before 2007 which I successfully completed. 2010 I started and stopped in May after a miscarriage. I’m hopeful for a good year and continued motivation! I’ve decided to add a challenge to it and my 365 will be all black and white. http://www.flickr.com/photos/berly816/sets/72157628667898765/

  • Jackandrubystudios

    love this post Amy! so proud of you! thats a huge achievement- congrats!!!

  • Emily Rosenbaum

    You know what? I’m going to do this. Not in public, because it’s going to be pics of my kids. Every day, I’m going to take a picture of some member of my family.

  • http://www.erikarayphotography.com/ Erika

    Yay! So this means you’re officially back in! Thanks for the links too. I love spreading my love for 365.

    • Amy

      Glad to girl! You’re an inspiration. And uh, yeah, I guess this does make it offical. :)

  • Ally

    That was awesome! I have struggled to cross the finish line for 2 years in a row. Maybe this year will be my year. (fingers crossed) You have certainly given me wind to get this boat going! Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Amy

      Thanks Ally! Just remember to be kind to yourself. Getting to the end is a lot about excepting limits.
      And in the spirit of full disclosure — I MISSED 2 DAYS. It’s true. I decided to put in an image from the day before or after to complete things.

  • Lea Hartman

    Great! I started a 366 project on January 1 and am excited to share this journey with others!