Sitting here in front of the computer having just come off an 8-day assignment, I’m struggling to come up with an opening to this post. Beginnings are often the hardest part of any venture and this seems to be no exception. I have a pretty good idea of what the substance of this post will be, just not how to begin it. Glancing over some previous guest blogs, there seems to be two different approaches to the opening – either dive right into the main topic or start off slowly with a thank you. The second option sounds like it’s as good a way as any, so let me firstly thank Scott, Brad and the team here for the opportunity to contribute a guest blog. It is indeed an honor to be here amongst so many talented, creative photographers.

Introductions are probably in order about now, so I should mention that I’m not the funny guy on TV. We share a name but that’s as far as the similarities go. What I am is an Asia (Taiwan to be specific) based travel, cultural and environmental photographer. I actually come from Australia but it’s been close to a decade since I’ve called it home.

In late 2009, I started giving some thought to a long term project that would promise to be a test of patience and discipline. Initially I was thinking along the lines of a 365 photo a day type project but it didn’t really gel in my mind. My aim was to start something on January 1st 2010 and have it run for a year. A 365 fits perfectly but I felt that the idea of such wasn’t right. I needed something more and so hit on the idea of putting together a daily phototip series. A bit of Googling suggested that no one had started and finished something so strictly defined although plenty of people have certainly posted more than 365 tutorials over time. It excited me from the outset, and promised to be a bit more of a challenge than just creating a daily photograph. I promised myself that I’d try to offer more substance than a simple one or two sentence tip. It would be quite easy to simply write something like “obey the rule of thirds” or “when shooting portraits, shoot wide open to create a nice bokeh” and pass that off as a phototip. More of a challenge would be to explain why it’s useful to do these things, and expand on those basics. And so it began. The first week of 2010 saw tips concerning creative white balance, metadata presets in Lightroom, off-center portrait composition, sunsets, vintage filter effects, access and leading lines.

The aim was to mix things up. I wanted the phototip series to appeal to photographers of all levels and abilities. For every entry-level tip such as sunny 16 and basic workflow, I tried to balance it with advice that’d be of use to working photographers with things such as copyright, business resources and shooting for your book.

For the first few months, coming up with a daily tip was fairly easy. In the weeks prior to starting the project, I made a list of as many areas to cover as I could think of, and then slowly worked my way through them. Ideas were jotted down in notebooks while riding in taxis, or recorded in Evernote on my phone and synced back to my computer. Others came up almost spontaneously as I sat down to write. Some stemmed from workshops I gave and classes I taught while others came from workshops I attended (thank you Joe McNally) and books or blogs I read.

That was the first few months. Then it got harder and a lot more time consuming. By the end of the year, it got to the point where I was spending 2-3 hours a day trying to think up and write a tip. Trying not to repeat myself, and also to keep it interesting for readers became a real challenge. I was determined however not to give up. My progress was marked in 50’s. I’d only look that far ahead which allowed myself to think “only 30 (20, 10 etc) to go. Once I reached a 50, I’d start again. It made it seem a lot more achievable than if I’d thought “250 to go”. The final month though ended up being perhaps the easiest of the lot. I had leftover ideas that had been jotted down earlier in the year that needed covering, as well as ideas that were fitting for end of year tips with topics like fireworks photography and best-of roundups. I actually managed to draft the final 15 phototips in a flurry of activity in mid-December which meant that all I had to do during those last two weeks was upload a photo and post the tip.

When embarking on a project of this nature, it was encouraging to see the level of support I got from the photographic community. The wonderful team at Black Rapid sent me a couple of R-Straps to use as giveaways in a competition, I was invited to become a beta-tester for IGVP (International Guild of Visual Peacemakers), the guys at Phottix sent me prototype flash triggers to test and review, and photographers everywhere shared, linked, Tweeted and Liked the phototip posts.

In carrying out the phototip project, I had to learn a lot myself. At some point, I wanted to cover video and although I’d bought a 5D Mark II soon after its release, other than learning which buttons to press for video, I hadn’t used it for anything other than stills. To teach is to learn, and learn I did, throwing together a behind the scenes video shot during a group photoshoot. Whether it’s any good or not is probably not something I can tell you but feel free to watch it yourself and see.

Ultimately this ended up becoming an immensely rewarding project. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend other photographers who want to try something similar and in fact, if you do, let me know and I’ll check it out. Thank you.

You can see more of Craig’s work at CraigFergusonImages.com, become his friend on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, and check out his photo tips here.

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36 Comments

  1. Craig, I have never done a 365 but my rule is not to go more than 2 days without shooting. The photo at the top is freaking awesome…..wait, it’s cool and kick butt! Thanks for post.
    Ken

  2. I am currently doing a 365 and I have to admit it is the hardest thing I have ever done. Just finding time to shoot everyday can be problematic when also trying to get in networking, blogging (is that a word?), and all the other aspects of being a working photographer not to mention trying to be a husband and father.

    However even though I don’t get to shoot every day, I do at least try to post daily with pictures I’ve taken during that week. Its been a lot of fun and a real eye opener on how crazy difficult it can be to do the simplest thing.

  3. Great post Craig! I love the light rays! I’m working on a 52 week project, it’s not quite as grueling, but it’s forced me to be on the lookout for more opportunities.

  4. Craig, excellent post. I can just imagine how challenging it would have become about the half way mark. Congratulations for persevering and succeeding!

    Scott, is something broken in your rss? Google reader is only picking up the first sentence or two, now.

  5. Craig, your images make me homesick for Taiwan! I worked there for two years, and absolutely love that place. You’ve really done a good job sharing the beauty of both the place and the people with your images. Thanks, too for the excellent post, and prolific store of knowledge in your tips. I’ll be sharing this with my photo club and all my students.

    And when you need an assistant, I’m your man!

    Levi

  6. WTF hapened with RSS feed?

  7. Craig… Don’t even know where to start. Amazing photographs, and great project, I’ll make sure to check them all out!

    Would you be able to share the location and the story (and maybe the specs) behind the seccond photo? I just love it!! I love structures carved in stone, and gosh, you captured the feeling perfectly! I can almost feel like if I’m there.

    Thanks for the awesome post.

    Pedro

  8. Hi Scott,

    I noticed the RSS feed setting has changed to show only partial content. Is this intentional? I have nothing against the change if it is intentional, but just wanted to be sure this is not a mistake.

    Thanks,

    hurworld

  9. I agree with Ken, that picture with the rays of light is awesome! Thanks for the guest blog Craig!

  10. Hey great post Craig. I agree with the other comments, Rays of Light is a wonderful image. I’ve been thinking over a few projects myself, reading about your project has given me fresh impetus to get cracking!

    Hey Scott, did something weird happen to your blog in the last 36hrs? I read it using Google Reader and I saw about 12 unread posts. When I looked they were all spam. Now before I used to see all your post in google reader, now I only see the intro and need to visit you actual blog address directly to see images and the rest of the post. Thought I’d let you know.

  11. Something has happened to the RSS feed (Google Reader). Suddenly I’m getting comment delivered as if they were blog posts. Sorry for posting this comment here, but I didn’t know where else to put it.

  12. First of all @Craig this was a great guest blog, catching up on your blog will keep me busy for quite awhile. The really crazy thing is I have been reading Scott’s blog for over a year and I started researching 365 projects this week for ideas. So this post was really timely for me. I don’t plan to be as ambitious as you were but all your tips will come in handy.

    @Scott what happened to part two of David Ziser’s guest blog from last week? Did it get missed? Will it be next week? next month? on his blog? Just wondering part one was a great read and I am looking forward to part two, I was just wondering if I missed it somewhere or if it was still coming.

  13. Definitely not as funny as the TV’s own Craig Ferguson, but some really awesome photos. Your year-long photo tips sounds like a difficult, but worthwhile project.

  14. Beautiful work. Bravo for having the commitment and guts to stick a year-long project. You have to be so diligent and consistent that it seems a lot of people fail somewhere, but it’s good to know there are still people out there challenging and pushing themselves in different ways.

  15. A truly impressive achievement, Craig! And the photos you shared with us are just as impressive. The cave temple photo is stunning (I’m sure you must have made that into a big print!), but I loved your portrait photos, as well. Excellent color and textures.

    I’ll be sure to check out your photo tips and your blog. Thanks for sharing!!!

    –John

  16. Craig, I’m eager to read through your tip blog from last year. I started a 365 photo project almost 6 months ago as a way to get myself interested in and educated about photography. I didn’t know anything when I started. I couldn’t even take my P&S out of a programmed mode and know what to do with it. I started with taking shots on my iPhone, moved up to my P&S in aperture priority, and now I have a 60D that I’m enjoying. Looking back I can see I’ve come a long way, and I know I have a long way to go. I hope your tips help me on my journey.

  17. Craig,

    I gotta’ say all the images in your post are awesome, each in it’s own way. I really enjoyed viewing them.

    That was quite an ambitious project. Don’t know if I’d want to take it on, but I congratulate you on not only taking it on, but completing it.

    Thanks for your post. I really enjoyed reading it and thanks again for sharing your wonderful images.

    Tom

  18. Wow! Amanzing Pictures! Rays of Light is my Favorit!
    Thanks!

  19. Great post Craig, but wasn’t David Ziser supposed to do part 2 of his post?

  20. Craig, fantastic post. Once I finished, I immediately went to your website and started reading all of the photo tips. I see I have a lot of material to go through, but I’m really enjoying it.

  21. I’ve personally enjoyed working with Craig. As he mentioned in the post, he beta tested with us before launching the International Guild of Visual Peacemakers.

    Since then, he’s managed to be one of our biggest supporters and facilitates photo critiques in our forums–truly an asset to the photographic community. His focus to help others. Always an excellent strategy and passion. Thanks, Craig!

    Mario Mattei
    visualpeacemakers.org
    co-founder IGVP

  22. Please give us the full RSS feed!!

  23. Great post on a great blog. Really enjoyed the video! Thanks for sharing.

  24. Wow! Go Craig. What an honor to be featured here on this blog and I love the images that you selected for this post. Great post.

    Also, nice job on the behind the scenes video. Rarely have I seen one where it is at such a location–usually such videos are within studio confines.

    Fascinating work and keep doing great things. :)

  25. Great job Craig. I am proud to call you friend and to cite you as a true inspiration and mentor.

    I don’t know how you managed to make/find the time for all those tips!

  26. Craig,

    I really enjoyed the article and the tip-a-day is a great idea.

    I just finished a 365 project in January but mine had a little twist: All photos had to be taken and edited with my iPhone 3GS.

    I decided I didn’t want to rely on my expensive DSLR equipment as the reason my photos were good or interesting. It was an extremely tough challenge to complete and I almost gave up many times. I am quite proud of some of the photos and the project as a whole.

    I’ll share a link to the gallery if you (or anyone) is interested in looking at the photos.

    Let me know…

    Scott

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