creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life

In January 2012, Clickin Moms posted our first “Day in the Life” photo essay featuring CMpro Sara Seeton. The response was so wonderful that we turned the concept into a regular blog series and Click magazine feature and have since enjoyed over two dozen glimpses into the days of our favorite photographers. Now we are challenging you to join in!

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo
*images by Alana Rasbach

This month, let’s see a day in YOUR life!

In addition to yielding a meaningful collection of memories, the Day in the Life project is a great way to hone your photographic skills. Here are some of the advantages of taking on an exercise such as this:

1) Creative Momentum
How frequently do you do highly concentrated personal shooting for a period of more than an hour or so? Sometimes it just takes some time to get into a creative groove, and if you can commit to a day of fairly sustained shooting, there’s a good chance you will become acutely aware of yourself gaining artistic momentum as you go. If you’re lucky, that momentum will go beyond the day, perhaps sweeping out some personal cobwebs and reenergizing your photography altogether!

2) Exploration of Light
Another benefit of shooting over an extended period is a heightened awareness of the way the color, quality, and direction of light changes from morning to afternoon to night. Use your Day in the Life project to discover the best light in your home throughout the day – and don’t be afraid to take notes about what you find to refer to later!

3) Capturing Habits and Routines
Most of us do a great job of documenting extraordinary outings, celebrations, and milestones, forgetting that in many ways, our most cherished memories are derived from everyday moments. It can be difficult to step back and appreciate the beauty of the life as we experience or observe it day in and day out, but the fact is that our daily activities do change – sometimes incrementally and imperceptibly. Your Day in the Life project is a great excuse to capture the rituals and routines that are so easy to take for granted (but are gone before we know it).

4) Taking your Camera with You
You’ve heard it before: “the best camera is the one that’s with you,” and given how large and heavy our DSLRs are, more often than not, the “one that’s with you” is a smartphone. This is fine! You might find it worthwhile and refreshing to have your DSLR with you to shoot in some of your favorite but previously undocumented locales, but the most important thing is truly that you take a camera (and use it!) everywhere during your Day in the Life documentation.

5) Varied Perspectives
Stuck in the house? Just shooting one subject all day? These aren’t limitations – these are opportunities! You can still come up with a captivating, varied set of images by adjusting the angle of light (for starters, simply try front lighting, sidelighting, and backlighting), switching out your lenses or focal length, changing your shooting perspective (above, below, from the back, straight on, close up, far away – see … six images right there!), capturing different parts of the whole, playing with focus/aperture/shutter/speed/ISO, working with different types of processing to suit the mood of different shots, etc. Try new approaches, and take some risks!

6) Value of a Collection
There’s something remarkable about the power of a single photograph to tell an entire story … but don’t dismiss the distinct but equally compelling strength of the photo essay. Allow the images of your Day in the Life project to speak collectively, to build on one another, to relay context and details about your life that would be impossible to convey with a single image. It’s not to say that any one image from your Day in the Life might not be able to stand alone, but simply to suggest that – taken as a group – the effect on the viewer is a little different and perhaps more nuanced.

7) Collaborative Creation of Memories
Finally, allow the Day in the Life project to become an opportunity to really engage with your family/children/loved ones. Encourage them to suggest activities, develop approaches to documenting a given moment, or even to take a turn behind the camera (that’s right – maybe you should get in the frame for a shot or two!). Share with them your love of photography over the course of the day, let them chimp with you after the shots throughout the day, and perhaps even ask them to help you cull as you select your favorites from among the many images captured together.

Overall, capturing your Day in the Life can be fantastic as a recurring project (again, not just for documentary purposes but also as a purely creative/artistic/technical exercise), so consider adding this to your to-do on a monthly, quarterly, or even just annual basis … but right now, let’s just start with the one day and see how that goes….

For this month’s formal creativity exercise, your goal is to shoot your own Day in the Life sometime in June and select 10 images that represent the day. I’ve even included a collage template (and corresponding Photoshop action to automate image placement) for you! The template is sized to 640px wide (the size we’ll need when selecting favorite image sets for feature on the CMblog), but you are welcome to resize or otherwise adjust it for your own blog; the components are all vector based, so you can upsize or downsize freely without quality loss. You can download the collage template and action here

Instructions for the DITL Template and Action:

  • Install the action in Photoshop (Actions Panel > Load Actions).
  • Open the template file in Photoshop.
  • “Play” the action.

editors choice!

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Congratulations to the ladies below whose photographs were selected as this month’s Editors Choices!

Anne Manning ‘anniemac':

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Jessica Thomason ‘islajane':

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Lindsay Moeser ‘lamoeser':

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Carla Thompson ‘carlabarla':

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Kristin Dokoza ‘kdokoza':

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Kristy Dooley ‘KristyDooley':

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Cynthia Dawson ‘cynthiad':

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Kerry Varnum ‘kvarnum':

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Nikki Rainey ‘ncnc00′:

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

Thank you to everyone who participated in the exercise!  We love seeing all the beautiful imagery!

Do you want to participate in the next Creativity Exercise?  Visit the forum here where guest author Sarah Vaughn has challenged us with the theme “Shooting in Full Sun“.  Don’t have a membership to Clickin Moms yet?  Head on over here to sign up!  You can still participate in this ‘Day In The Life’ challenge by either visiting the forum here or sharing with us in the comments below.  We’d love to see your work!

creativity exercise: 7 reasons you need to photograph a day in your life photo

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