How to start your own 365 grateful photo project [the what, why + where]

So, you have heard about all these 365 photo a day projects and you wonder if you if you can create your own 365 photo project. Here are answers to some of the questions I most commonly get asked…

What is a 365 photo project?
Basically – as the name says, you make a plan to take a photo every day, for a year (365 days)

Do I need a big fancy camera?
Not at all! I shoot (and share) my 365 projects on my iPhone 5. For me, I wanted it to be quick and easy, no editing of images on the computer, being able to upload and share the images throughout each day, and a little different to using my “big work camera” But you can shoot with what ever you have available! The main point is to get out there and shoot, shoot shoot! As the year goes on your photography skills, and your creativity will increase. Along with that, hopefully, will the tolerance of your family members in being the subject of your photos 😉

What phone camera apps do you use?
My favorite iPhone camera app is Hipstamatic.

From the app store: Digital photography never looked so analog. Make and share beautiful photography with Hipstamatic.  Swap lenses, flashes, and films for hundreds of different effects.
Hipstamatic uses the phone’s camera to allow the user to shoot square photographs, to which it applies a number of software filters to make the images look as though they were taken with a vintage film camera. The user can choose among a number of effects which are presented in the application as simulated lenses, films and flashes. Several of these are included with the application, while others may be acquired through an in-app purchase.

hipstamatic for iPhone
For me I have a favourite film and lens combo that I used for the entire #projectLiana365 project – Loftus lens and Blanko Freedom13 film. I wanted consistency throughout that particular 365 project so stuck to one “look” the entire time. I did change some images to black and white and for that I use either VSCO Cam or photoshop on my computer to edit the images after they have been taken in Hipstamatic.  For those on android I am not sure what the best camera apps are, so hopefully someone in the comments might be able to help…

NOTE: The fact that Hipstamatic is designed to simulate vintage film – means the images are not always “perfect”. They are sometimes a little blurred around the edges, and depending on what filter you choose, and the scene you are photographing, it may not look great at all. This app is definetely about practicing and working out your own style, patience, and the appropriate lens and film combo!

Of course, you can use the standard camera app on your camera, if you choose!

For 2014 I will be working on a few different 365 projects, so will use a variation of these three apps, either shooting from within the apps, or shooting using the standard camera app and ‘editing’ the images [ie applying filters] using VSCO Cam or Afterlight.  There may be loads of new apps an the market now days, but I am a creature of habit and am sticking by my favorites for now!
365 grateful, photo a day, hipstamatic


How do you share the photos?
I share my photos via Instagram [follow me here or search @littlegirls_greatbigdreams or @renee_bell] and the in-built hash tag feature in Instagram allows you to tag images so you can easily find and reference back to them later, for example all of last years 365 photo project images of Liana were tagged #projectLiana365. Instagram is a social media community of photography enthusiasts and you can find friends, or follow people who’s images inspire you and like and comment on their photos if you like, and it also allows you to link those images to your twitter or Facebook feed.  Although I don’t have Facebook installed on my phone, the images from my 365 photo projects copy across to Facebook via my Instagram account for those who wish to view/comment/like them on Facebook…
You can also create yourself a blog if you wish to share your photos that way, you can skip Instagram and just upload the images straight to Facebook, or you can store them all on your computer and keep them private.

For 2014 I plan to share my images on Instagram as I take them, and then blog here monthly.

instagram renee_bell, renee bell photographer, little girls with great big dreams


Start your own 365 photo project

What exactly do I take photos of?
Short answer – what ever you like! You can take a photo a day of your child [see details of my 2013 project liana 365 photo a day here], your puppy dog or the view from your morning walk.

You can take photos of what you ate for lunch, a new recipe you created in the kitchen, the clouds, a sunset [or a sunrise if you are one of those ‘morning people’], your new hairstyle, the book you are currently reading, treasures you find when walking through the bush, or the patterns the shadows make on the footpath in front of you…

You can spend the year focusing on gratitude and do a 365 grateful project, taking a photo every day of something that you are grateful for. You can read more about 365 Grateful by Hailey and Andrew Bartholemew here,
If you are feeling stuck for inspiration and need some prompts for each day then you can follow along with one of the many photo a day projects found online that will give you daily word prompts, like the FMS photo a day shown here:


365 gratefuls Hailey and Andrew Bartholomew

 How do I store, save and print my images?
I will share more on this later, but absolutely make sure you BACK UP your photos. Save them to your computer, to a hard drive, and to a cloud storage service somewhere… Ideally do all three.  After capturing so many memories the worst thing that could happen is you lose your iPhone and as a result, all the images also. I am working on a book design for my 2013 images so will share details of that soon, as well as my printing tips.


I don’t know if I have time, what if I forget to take a photo and miss a day?
There were times throughout 2013 where I missed photos of Liana [usually due to one of us being away]. Decide yourself how strict you want to be, either skipping those days, or taking two the next day. Usually I would do one morning and one night to catch up. There were also times through out the year where I decided it was all too hard and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to complete the project. Now, looking back is SO incredibly glad I persisted!

I’d love to do a photo a day of my child, but they hate having their photo taken…
Practice, practice, practice. If you aren’t trying to keep the background of your photo consistent then sometimes they don’t even need to know that you are taking the photos of them… Take a shot of them curled up sleeping, intently colouring, running in the park, a close up of their toes. Let them do a funny face. Ask them to show you happy face, sad face, crazy face, serious face, happy face, angry face – take loads of pics and then choose your favorite, or collage a few of them together. Have them get their favorite toy and hold it for the photos. [More tips on taking pics of your children coming soon!]

project liana 365, childrens photography, photo a day

the grateful heart project


little girls with great big dreams, hearts


I hope this blog post has answered some of your questions and if you have more, please ask in the comments below, or on our little girls with great big dreams facebook page here. I sincerely hope that this post has encouraged you to start your own 365 photo project [yes, the first step is to start… worry about if you will finish later!] and I would love, love, LOVE to hear from all of you that are starting, or continuing for 2014. The messages that I have been getting via facebook the last few days are so wonderful to read. Also – the thing that would make me happiest – please tell your friends how awesome it would be if they do this project by sharing this post!

Do you have questions re iPhone photography and grateful projects? I would love to hear from you in the comments below, and I will aim to answer as many of your questions as I can in future blog posts…

Also, for those sharing their 365 grateful photos and wanting to use a hashtag – tag #littlegirlsbigdreams365 and I can check out all your images!

Renee xx


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