This week we have the great pleasure of another post from our 365ers series, where we highlight members of the 365 project community. I'd like to say a big thank you to Teresa for taking our questions and giving us her unique insight to her 365 project.
What made you decide to take on the 365 Project?To be honest I can't quite remember... I think I saw a friend on facebook who was posting a '365 days project' photo every day, so I Googled '365 days project', found 365project.org, and it looked interesting, so I signed up! I guess I joined too because I'd purchased my DSLR a few months before, and wanted to use it more regularly, and I was in the midst of some pretty intensive study - so I needed something to balance that out. Did you have much photography experience before you started?
Not really! Prior to getting my DSLR I had relied on my phone camera, then my parents got me a pretty nifty point-and-shoot for my birthday one year, and we also took a month-long family trip to Italy where I used a JVC photo/video camera to capture our trip - that's when I started getting hooked to the shutter! I found taking photos fun and a nice diversion, but I only really got into it proper when I got my DSLR and discovered the absolutely amazing capabilities and got to use different lenses to achieve different things!
How did the project expand your knowledge, and teach you new things?The better question would be "how didn’t it?"! I could never have anticipated the amount of photographic knowledge I'd pick up from this community. The thing about this project is that it brings together people from all over the world, people with different skills in and styles of photography. I started off by following those whose work I admired - often because it was so different to mine! - and I'd learn through observation (that 'Exif info' button is a godsend!), and occasionally by asking questions - and people here are so generous with their knowledge! Through this project, I have learned pretty much all I know about photography so far - the basics of aperture, shutter speed, ISO and how they relate to one another... HDR, panorama, long exposure, macro photography, nighttime photography, bokeh, portraits, landscapes, polarising filters, ND filters, bokeh filters, focal length, sensor size, white balance, post-processing, depth of field, depth of focus (which are different things, as I learned!)... It encouraged me to seek out more knowledge (via our good friend Google!), to get into the nitty-gritty of my camera settings, tweak one thing and see what happens, make the gradual transition from Auto to Manual (and to know which situation is best for which setting)...
What kind of camera did you use, and would you recommend it?My camera, my loyal partner in crime, is my Canon EOS 500D. I bought it originally with the twin lens kit (18-55mm and 55-250mm). I still use the 18-55mm for landscapes, but the 55-250mm has taken a backseat now that I have a 70-300mm.Canon has released a number of models since then - I still think it's a fantastic camera and a really great starting point if you're looking to make the leap from point-and-shoot to DSLR, also because it's so cheap to buy now.
I see that you enjoy using a variety of lenses – do you have a favourite?Oh, this is a no-brainer!... Rewind to my birthday, 2011. I blow out my birthday candles (they were sparklers, actually!). My family hands me a suspiciously lens-shaped box. I open it...It's the Canon 50mm f/1.4.This is an amazing lens, I honestly don't know what I would do with out it. It's sharp, quiet and creates the most dreamy, soft images one could imagine. And you can use it in super-low light because it so ridiculously fast. It has changed the way I approach photography.
Is there a particular aesthetic you enjoy capturing the most?I love creating images that are dreamy, hazy, soft, that make you feel like you've fallen asleep and woken up somewhere wonderful and peaceful. :)I also love shooting macro (via using a reversing ring with my 18-55mm). If I'm ever in a photographic rut, I force myself to put on my reversing ring and head outside - you never know what you'll find! It's wonderful to see the world so close-up, in far more detail than the naked eye could ever perceive. And I love shooting long-exposures (daytime or nighttime). They're so fun! You never quite know how the photo will turn out until the exposure has finished - how the light trails will end up, what sorts of misty patterns the cresting waves on the beach will make. It's a totally different style of photography - utterly surreal and otherworldly.
Some people find it very challenging to keep taking a photo a day, what kept you going throughout the first year of your project and beyond?I think it's out of habit mainly! Up until now, I'd been studying throughout my project, I'd have to take a break - I'd grab my camera and head outside, get a bit of sun, and feel refreshed when I got back to hitting the books. So at points it was a necessity!Taking a photo every day has become second-nature, a part of my life now - wherever I go I'm always looking for photo opportunities. I'm also forgiving of myself if I miss a day (like last week when I had a stomach bug and could barely move for 3 days!). I'm not in the project to necessarily document my daily life (although inevitably it does that) - I'm here to continue to further and expand my photography, to keep me pressing the shutter (pretty much) every day, because I believe the only way to get better at taking photos is to keep taking photos. :)And of course, had this community not been so supportive and encouraging, I doubt I would have stuck with it this far!
You have had quite a few of your photos in the Official Top 20 and have featured a lot in the theme vote – are these your favourite shots, or do you have some others to share with us?It's often the way that photos into which you put a lot of thought and effort don't get the best response, and yet other photos where you shoot lazily and hope for the best are the ones that people tend to love. I'd say my favourites and the community's favourites overlap roughly half the time.
Now you have uploaded over 1,000 photos to your project is there any thing or any person you would still like to capture on camera?Oh goodness yes. There are so many things I want to try! In no particular order - liquid crowns, smoke photography, HDR, panning, street photography/portraits, star trails, that cool effect you get when you take a photo of something through a water droplet, better daytime & nighttime long. As for things I want to capture - a snowy landscape at sunset/sunrise, the Northern Lights, a surfer mid-wave, Stonehenge, Ayers Rock, a revisit of Italy, a lady beetle on a leaf, a bee mid-flight, a dimly-lit movie theatre with the audience's faces subtly lit, a real close-up macro of a spider's face, lightning forking across the sky... All the ideas are up here! *taps head*
Do you have any advice for budding 365ers?Do not stop taking photos! Regardless of how bad you think they are, every time you hit that shutter you are growing and learning and furthering your skills. Challenge yourself - try a setting you've never used before, or force yourself to only shoot with a specific lens for a day. If you see something that inspires you, try it yourself. If you don't know what something means, Google it! Read tutorials and reviews, browse forums, ask questions, be open to new things, new concepts, new words, check out others' work. But most of all, have photography at the back of your mind. Actively look out for photos, even if you don't have your camera on you. Train your eye to see photo opportunities, and they will come a lot more easily.
And finally... What next? What do you think you will be doing in 5 years time?Well as of 12 months ago, I started shooting "professionally" (i.e. getting paid to do what I love!) so in five years I hope to be doing many more photo shoots, and I'd really like to expand into weddings and couple/engagement shoots and baby portraits! I'd love to take my photography travelling - being a student meant being poor so I haven't travelled much yet. In 5 years I hope that I'd have captured some beautiful parts of the world. :)I have also built my own photography website - teresasimonetti.com, which I've set up to sell prints. I'd love to establish it a bit more, and perhaps have exhibitions and stalls where I can put my work on show.
If you'd like to check out more of my work, feel free to visit my facebook page (facebook.com/teresa.simonetti.photography) or my website (teresasimonetti.com).
I'd also like to mention those who have inspired me throughout my project -
Brenda Ashley (@liipgloss) - for her astounding and flawless landscapes and long exposures. Her images are always so vibrant and full of colour and pretty much every photo of hers transports me.
Lauren (@lauren211) - she hasn't updated in a while but she was one of the first people I followed! I love her beautifully dreamy captures of nature and animals. They have that beautiful hazy tonal quality that I love!
Amy Spada (@aspada) - she always has such an interesting and unique take on the composition of a scene. A very creative eye!
Kattiany Lima (@kattianylima) - a newcomer to the project, her shots are enchanting and soft and I look forward to her posts each day :)
Jesse Hurler (@luvthyclassics) - creative, emotive and moving shots. Her project involves quite a few selfies which I really admire - and she executes them beautifully.
Alison Tomlin (@fueast) - beautiful, striking, dramatic landscapes! Always inspirational to pay her project a visit. :)
Alexis Birkill (@abirkill) - his project is full of sharp, breathtaking images with superior technical prowess, and he is also kind enough to take the time to answer in detail the many questions he is asked!
Grace (@gracej) - her work is so straightforward, simple and honest, especially her portraits! Love her work :)
Rich Tyson (@rich_t) - for his entertaining and superb streetscapes and street portraiture! A great mix - sometimes amusing, and other times beautiful, intimate and moving.
Jill Montes (@jillmontesphotography) - one of my earliest inspirers! Her shots have a beautiful quality about them and such a fine attention to detail. And her kids are gorgeous. :)
Onyx (@onyx) - epic, crazy shots, really dramatic and cool - makes me wish I could take photos like that!
Jani (@janim) - for his quirky and unique take on the world! Love the geometry and composition of his shots - always creative and outside-the-box (so to speak). :)
Allison (@snippets) - she has since completed her project, but I really enjoyed following her work! She made the square crop work (which is notoriously difficult), and her photos were a balance of technical skill using soft, dreamy tones to create a beautiful space.
Mart (@corinthiantheunwise) - his photos are true explorations into the fringes of what's possible - bold and strong and dramatic.