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How I Take My Daily Photo

Photo by Tammy Strobel

On January 1, 2018, I’ll start the 6th year of my daily photography project—My Morning View. I’ve been taking a snapshot of my morning view for the past five years, and I have a book by the same name.

If you haven’t followed my photography series, below is the backstory behind the project:

After my step-dad, Mahlon, died in June 2012, I decided to focus on a creative project to honor Mahlon’s memory. I began a daily photography project called My Morning View: An iPhone Photography Project about Gratitude, Grief & Good Coffee on January 1, 2013.

Since then, I’ve been taking a daily photo of my morning view with my coffee cup in the frame. My daily photography project gave meaning to the grief I experienced, and it’s fostered creative self-discipline, optimism, joy, and a sense of adventure in my everyday life.

Recently, a reader asked: “How do you shoot your daily photo? Can you share your creative process on the blog?”

When I read the question, I got excited because I love talking about this project. Taking my daily photo is one of the best parts of my morning routine because it’s fostered creative self-discipline and it’s part of my gratitude practice. In some ways, I think I’m better at expressing myself through photos rather than words.

When I started this project in 2013, I took a photo of my morning view right after my first cup of coffee. After so many years of working on this project, I’ve learned to be flexible with my schedule. Sometimes I take my photo early in the morning and sometimes I take it later in the day.

On average, I spend 15 to 30 minutes a day on my photography project. The amount of time I put into the project depends on how much time I have in the morning, the length of my caption, and the editing process.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

For example, I went to Ashland, OR a few weeks ago, and before I left the house, I decided to take my daily photo in Ashland. Here’s what my creative process looked like on that particular day:

  1. I walked into RAW—a lovely restaurant in Ashland—and ordered a late breakfast. I sat down at a table and began writing a to-do list. A few minutes later my order arrived—the PCT Oatmeal and a cappuccino with RAW’s signature nut milk.
  2. I loved the presentation of the oatmeal and cappuccino and decided to take a photo of the dish. I wanted to capture the soft morning light, the texture of the table, and the shapes of RAW’s bowls and plates.
  3. I took about ten photos of the scene, decided which photo I wanted to share online, and then deleted the rest of the images from my phone.
  4. Most of the time, I use Evernote to write the caption that I pair with the photograph.
  5. Since the caption was longer than normal, I uploaded it to Grammarly to check for grammar and spelling errors.
  6. Then, I edit my image in VSCO or Snapseed on my iPhone. I keep my edits simple. For example, I adjust the exposure and temperature of the image, and I might apply a filter to the photo.
  7. Finally, I upload the image to social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr). As a side note, Tumblr serves as my project portfolio.

Photo by Tammy Strobel

Also, I have two side notes to share. These tips keep me grounded and focused on the aim of my project because I’m easily distracted by social media.

  • Sharing images and connecting with fellow photographers and bloggers online is a gift. However, I don’t have to spend hours on social media to connect with people. Also, spending too much time on Instagram isn’t the goal of my daily photography project.
  • My project is not about the “likes” or gaining “followers.” It’s about gratitude, improving my photography skills, and honoring my dad’s memory.

There you have it! If you’ve got additional questions about my daily photography project—or general photography related questions—leave a comment on the blog.

Also, if you need help starting a daily photography project, read this essay—How to Start a 365-Day Photography Project. I wrote this piece for Flow Magazine’s blog back in 2015.

With gratitude,
Tammy

PS: A Simple Year begins on January 2nd. Join my colleague Courtney Carver on November 2, 2017 for a Q & A webinar and program overview. Details here.

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