13 Film 365 and 52 Project Questions: Answered

I have received unbelievable responses and incredible interests after my last blog post, 7 tips to a Successful 365 Project on Film. I am super excited to be leading the very first 365 Film Project on Little Bellows.  As I am typing out this blog post, I have already ended my 2015 and started my 2016 365 Project on Christmas Day, and I can't tell you how much this project has changed my photography in the last year (you can see my 2015 365 project on film through my Instagram @joycekang_ig) .  Whether you will be doing a 365 or a 52 project on film,  please join me by using the hashtag #LBfilm365 or #LBfilm52 on Instagram or Facebook so we can be each other's accountability partners. The only rule: the image MUST be shot on film!

So now,  I would like to answer all of the questions I have received thus far.  If you have a question I didn't answer here, please feel to ask in the comment box below.  In addition, I have recruited my 365 Film Project accountability partners, Heather and Jen, and Emily, a 365 film project veteran, to share tips on how they successfully completely their 365 projects!  

1. Question:  "I don't get how you do 365 on film.  How do you handle the lag time between sending in film for process and getting film scans back from the lab?"

Answer: It is what it is.  The lag time is inevitable when working a 365 project on film.  It takes at least 3 weeks for the first batch of film scans to arrive in your inbox.  However, if you are disciplined to send in batches of exposed film rolls in 2 to 3 week intervals, the only lag time you will have is during the first month of your project.

2. Q: "I have started a few 365 and 52 project previously and never finished any one of them.  I get uninspired and unmotivated quickly.  Any advise on how I can keep 'the fire burning'?"

A: The best way to keep the "inspiration fire burning" is recruiting a few accountability buddies who have the same interests and same goals.  I couldn't have finished my film 365 in 2015 without my project partners, Heather Chang and Jen Golay.  

3. Q: "I'm stuck on if my project should have a theme? Or just shoot anything?"

A: A 365 project is a personal project...which means it is personal...it's yours and yours alone.  You can have a theme, or none at all.  When I started my film 365 in 2015, I knew I wanted to work on several specific techniques, such as manual focus a moving subject (my boys), composition, and improve my street/travel photography, along with documenting my everyday.  I combined all of these into my 365 project!

4. Q: "Is it cheating if I create several images a day and pick one?"

A: No way!  I do that all the time!!  If your budget allows shooting several frames a day, do it!  There is no rule on limiting just one frame per day.  Some days I shoot just one frame due to lack of inspiration, and some days I would shoot the entire roll!

5. Q: "Is it necessary to have a premeditated subject or a theme every day? For example: movement or self portrait."

A: The answer to this one is: it's up to you!  Yes, it's really that simple.  My subjects have only been my kids and family since I stopped taking on clients.  Check out photography website or Facebook page such as Clickin Moms that offers daily prompts and weekly themes if you need a little push during the "down times".

6. Q: "How can I do a 365 or 52 project that leaves me feeling inspired without feeling stressed about fitting it in or lackluster about what I'm able to create in my day-to-day life?"

A: A 365 or 52 project should never feel like a burden.  If it does, you may not be doing it for the right reasons.  A 365 project should be free flowing. Don't get stuck on the "shoulds", "musts" and "have-tos".  Allow yourself to embrace your day-to-day imperfections.  It's fine if every day life is not "pretty" like a styled shoot!  It's when I let go all of the restrains and controls, I gain new insights into my creativity.    

7. Q: "What if I used a disposable or an instant camera?  Any suggestion on what camera to use?"

A: If the disposable camera uses film, yep use it!  Fuji Instax camera is my favorite while waiting for film scans.  My suggestion is to use the camera that you are most likely to carry with you at all times, even to the grocery store or the doctor's appointments.    I can't tell you how many times my kids' pediatrician walked in on me holding a camera to my face!

8. Q: "I'm always tempted to do a 365. I'm hesitating again because anytime I introduce an obligation to shoot, some of the joy and spontaneity of photography goes away. I see the benefits and want to want to do one."

A: To ensure the longevity and success of your 365 project is to "shoot because you enjoy it", not because it's a chore.  It should never be an obligation!  Always keep a camera loaded and within reach no matter where you are; so when inspiration comes, it's there for you.  I shoot everywhere and anywhere!  I let my inspiration takes the lead.  Don't forget to give yourself grace on days when you simply don't feel like it (see 7 Tips to a Successful 365 Project on Film).

9. Q: "I think for film 52 project is much more doable IMO. I really want to do one. I just think I would feel overwhelmed with a 365 I might even be prone to cheating not saying anyone else would!" 

"What about more of a 52 project? lol I have a full time day job now so the thought of trying to take photos between 6 and 7am or 5 and 6pm...while also figuring out dinner sounds stressful."

A: Pick one that fits your lifestyle, or one that you will most likely succeed!  If a weekly film project seems more doable, then I highly recommend you to give it a try first. Remember: Don't over-commit and keep it simple!

10. Q: "Am I the only one that has rolls of undeveloped film always piling up on my counter?! I shoot mostly b/w and develop and scan on my own - digitizing my photos is my last step and I'm always behind. Any suggestions on how to organize my workflow so that I can share in an online project would be great."

A: How about developing some on your own and sending some to the lab?  Do you get stressed out when you start to fall behind on your project?  Personally speaking, I get easily overwhelmed when falling behind.  Let's say organization is not my forte!  When this happens, I am likely to quit or give up on the project.  I think divide up the film developing and scanning between you and the lab can smooth out the workflow so that you can share in a more timely manner.

11. Q: "How do you shoot daily when weather doesn't cooperate?  For example, for exterior low light situation especially when it's cloudy and your Fuji film craves light."

A: As I mentioned in my article,  7 Tips to a Successful 365 Project on Film,  I have a few camera bodies loaded with different film stocks so I can shoot under different weather conditions.  If you only have one film camera bodies to use for the project, you can combat low light condition in two ways:

 use a film stock that has better latitude with overexposure and underexposure, and be sure to rate it at an ISO that allows you to shoot the entire roll under most light conditions.

use an artificial light source such as a flash such as speedlight or a studio strobe.  If you don't how to use these, you can make it a part of your 365 project to learn how.  And guess what?  You are in luck!  Sandra have written several tutorials on how to use strobe with film on this website!

12. Q: "How do you keep it organized? Do you take notes on what you shoot? I can just see myself shooting the first couple weeks, going somewhere and using up the rest of the roll, then starting a new one and loosing track of which days are which. because it will be a couple weeks before you even see the photos."

A: If you are particular about keeping all images chronologically organized, taking good notes is a must.  There is an app you can download to keep notes frame by frame, such as PhotoExif.  If you prefer an actual notebook, Analog Book comes in either 35mm or 120 format.  

Here is MY way to keep it "some-what" in order...ish (let's just say I don't stress over being organized):

I use a sharpie and write down start and end dates on the outside of the film roll (or canister if using a 35mm).  I also add a few notes about what was shot on it, if I can remember them.  Further more,  whenever I send in my film for developing and scanning, I keep a copy of the lab order and transcribe my notes from each roll onto the copied lab order.  

When I get my scans back from the lab, I first import the images into Lightroom, a photo editing software, using keywords (keywords are  created from the notes I transcribed on the lab order).  Then, I create a Lightroom Collection where I keep all of the project images.   

13. Q: "How many rolls do you typically shoot per week or per month?  I can see how expensive it can be when all of the developing costs are added up!"

A:  This will depends on your budget.  For me, I don't set a limit on how many rolls I shoot per week or per month.  Some days, I shoot just one frame a day, and some days I shoot an entire roll.  If there is a special event or outing, I most likely would shoot a lot more on that day.  I would say I average 3-6 rolls of film per month.

The MOST important thing to remember is to have fun and reward yourself at the end of the project.  My reward is to print a "Year Book" for my family.  My children's laughter when they flip through the pages makes it all worth it!

xox, Joyce


Valuable Tips from 365 Project Veteran, Heather Chang

  1. It's helpful to have more than one camera loaded with film at one time, preferably with different film speeds, to have more options for shooting in different light from day to day.  
  2. If you miss a day, or a few, don't consider it a failure, just keep shooting when you are able.  Allow yourself to use an extra image to fill in the missed day.  At the end of the year, when you see all those images together, I promise you won't mind that you "cheated".
  3. Have a work flow for shooting and posting at the beginning of the year and change as needed.  I synced the collection to LR mobile and could access them on my phone to post to IG!!
  4. Set small goals.  Commit to something smaller at first: shoot a picture every day for the first 2 weeks , a month, or the first 100 days.  Reevaluate at the end and decide if you can tack on another small goal, then add another 2 weeks, a month or 100 days! Remember, a partial 365 is an accomplishment!  30 daily images are 30 more images you wouldn't have normally had, and that's 30 more days you practiced your photography.
  5. Find a group of people that are doing a similar project.  You need a group of people who are going to be just as excited and encouraging about your "Picture of the Day" on day 273 as they were on day 1.  Also, involving your family and friends can be really helpful.
  6. Ultimately, it's your project, so it's your rules.  Want to shoot one image a day and post that image only, do it.  Want to shoot 5 days a week but still post a daily image, do that.  Want to shoot a daily theme, no theme, all film, hybrid, post weekly, or monthly,  do that.  Make up your own rules, so that the project is doable, FOR YOU.  And when you break your own rules, don't beat yourself up!  Just keep shooting!

Follow Heather on WebsiteInstagram | Facebook

Valuable Tips from 365 Project Veteran, Jen Golay

  1. Devote at least one camera to the 365 project. Two cameras can be nice as well--one for indoors and one for outdoors. Keep film in the camera at all times.
  2. It's okay not to shoot every day. Some days will produce more images than others. Just try to share every day.
  3. Choose something to work on. Still life, documentary or lifestyle, portraits, a certain type of light.
  4. Try new film. Try a new camera. Don't forget toy cameras and instant cameras.
  5. Pick a theme to follow for a while--architecture, strangers, food. Or only shoot with one camera and/or one lens for a week or two.
  6. Try pushing a roll of film. Ektar 100 shot in good light can look amazing pushed two stops.
  7. Don't forget the mundane. Looking back over my images from last year, some of my favorites are of the boys just sitting in front of the computer playing games together or doing their homework. The days may be long, but the years are short, and I am glad to have those moments from our daily lives.

Follow Jen Website | Instagram | Facebook

Valuable Tips from 365 Project Veteran, Emily McCann:

"On the hard days, I remind myself over and over how much I will regret it if I quit.  On many of those days, once I actually start shooting, I feel a spark of joy and curiosity (what would be the scene look like from this angle instead of that?).  But even on the days where that spark doesn't come, I am always glad afterwards that I have picked up my camera.  I remind myself of these things over and over.  Also, Letting go of perfection has been the key (to success)."  

Follow Emily Website | Instagram | Facebook