Imagine a photo project that would make you more creative, improve your editing skills, give you precious time with family, create memories for your children, and help you overcome fears and phobias… hard to believe but this really happened!!
Once our courses finish, we LOVE to help our Grads continue their learning, and part of that includes running regular challenges with mentors and tutorials.
Then last year we started a new regular challenge – a Project 52 with a difference – Grads would choose their own theme in the form of one word, and it would be the same theme for the entire year. In this way it would be a very personal project, and was designed to flex their creative muscles as they were forced to find ways to vary their shots whilst being limited to one single theme.
CLG Grad Becca Lord-Lyon jumped in immediately, and despite being the mother of new baby girl Lenox, and the owner of an actual bricks and mortar retail business, she finished the project!
Read on to learn how embarking on a Project 52 changed Becca’s photography, enriched her family life and helped her overcome a lifelong phobia…
“The Click Love Grow Project 52 is different to any other P52, as its personal to the person who sets out on the journey. I’d not long had my daughter Lenox, so I wanted to focus on her and have 52 photographs to look back on, and create a beautiful album of images.
My husband and I are indoor people, but I want my daughter to experience the outdoors as much as possible during her childhood. So initially I considered ‘Outdoors’ for my theme, as a way to force us out and about. However I knew the unpredictable UK weather could impact my ability to complete the project. So instead I chose the word ‘Seasons’.
When we couldn’t get outdoors, it really forced me to think outside the square to convey this theme indoors! The two weeks that my daughter got sick at Christmas, I set her up in my bed with a blanket and tried out Lou’s technique for creating twinkle light bokeh.
I could easily come up with 52 reasons why everyone should take part in a Project 52, but instead I’ll give you my top 7 reasons why you should start a Project 52 this week!”
The first few weeks were hard, just trying to remember to get an image in time wasn’t always easy. Then suddenly I was 12 weeks in, and I had reclaimed Sundays as a day of adventure and family time!
Soon it became part of our weekly routine as a family, and every Sunday evening I looked forward to going through my images, choosing and editing my favourite. Posting it on Instagram and to the CLG Grad’s P52 album on Facebook was exciting especially when I received feedback on my photos from fellow Grads and CLG instructors.
The word I chose for my theme was specifically to push myself out of my comfort zone. It started as way to get us outside whatever the weather, but then I decided to try and overcome one of my biggest fears – sand.
I had developed a phobia of sand when I was 10 years old and the older I got, the worse it was. Before starting the Project 52, I hadn’t been on the beach in years, let alone walking on sand in bare feet.
But I didn’t want Lenox to ever miss out on anything and so I took my first (closed shoe) steps onto the beach, and managed to capture her standing on the sand only days after she first started walking!
I recently went on holiday to the beach, and Lenox wanted me to sit with her on the sand, so I took my shoes off and I did it! I never ever would have faced my fear without my Project 52. In the back of my mind I wanted to capture my daughter no matter where she was playing and exploring, and I couldn’t do that standing on the road!
Related: How to Take Golden Hour Beach Photos
One of my favourite things about my Project 52 is that I can look back and see how much my daughter has changed, and I can pinpoint exact timeframes where the achieved big milestones.
She sat up by herself during week 2.. she could pull herself up to a standing position by week 9…
I don’t know if it’s an English thing but we love to look back and say ‘it wasn’t this cold last year’ or ‘I definitely wasn’t wearing a coat in September last year’ and now I have the pictures in order to back me up! It’s perfect!
I can really struggle with my photos… one day I will love an image and the next I will see all the flaws and everything it’s not. But when you’re forced to come up with a photo every week on the same theme, you start to see things differently. The way the light hits your sofa or the colour of the trees. Your images evolve over the year as you learn from what you’ve shot and comparing them side by side, and it’s great to look back on the series and see that progress.
When it comes to editing, I love really bright and light photography and I also love really moody and dark editing, but I struggle with where it is that I fit in.
But my editing really evolved over the year. I found by Christmas my photos became very red and I don’t like the way I edited those images. I then decided it must have been the blacks in my images and so by March I had removed shadows, but the images looked quite flat. Someone in the Grad’s group mentioned that maybe I needed to try using the clarity and dehaze tools and things started to look better.
By June I discovered dodge and burn, and now I finally feel like my editing is heading in the right direction. By not deleting the images and having them all together reminds me how far I have come and how much more I understand.
Related: Free Lightroom Class
When I was on both the CLG Enthusiast Photography Course and the Advanced Photography Course I had something to aim for every week with the lesson challenges and I loved getting the instructor feedback. I loved the CLG Creative Workshops for the same reasons.
But between courses, sometimes I’d feel disheartened because the image I wanted to capture didn’t work out, or I’d take a great shot but couldn’t edit it in the way I’d visualised. Add to that life getting in the way and the weather… the weather can ruin all your plans! Times like these, I can be inclined to put my camera away.
I love that my Project 52 gave me no choice in the matter… I couldn’t give in and put my camera away, and I had to find a way to get the shot. And often that meant I didn’t have the luxury to overthink, because it was about the environment that I was in and I had to take a photo for that week whether I was feeling it or not.
But often those images turned out to be my favourite.
And the more you shoot in public, the more confident you become.
Now that I’ve completed a whole year of shooting I feel more confident about taking a photo of my daughter in a location I would not have felt comfortable doing a year ago, for example in the supermarket or in a coffee shop.
This doesn’t just open up a new world of locations… when you stop caring what people think of you and your camera, you take more time to get the shot, rather than just snapping quickly and hoping for the best.
It’s such a liberating feeling and really elevates the photos you take when out in public.
Related: Getting out of a Photography Rut
I completed my Project 52 back in August, and then I had a little break. But I missed it so much I am now 7 weeks into my second Project 52, and my theme this time is ‘Colour’… check them out here!
I really hope you give it a go! I’ve gained so much more than I ever could have dreamed, and as a bonus I now have a year of photos showcasing Lenox’s growth and development, and memories of our family days out to look back on.
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