Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try

Are you bored with your creative routine? This photo project will challenge and inspire you! Fight burnout and push boundaries as you learn: DONE is better than PERFECT. See how Life Unstill photographer Willy Wilson crafted this 10-minutes-a-day exercise EVERY photographer should try!


You shoot the same thing over, and over, and over again. Little ones and Louboutins; family love and love stories; headshots and mini sessions. And while you still enjoy your work, maybe you’re feeling a little… bored.

It’s time to shake off the cobwebs of burnout, and kindle your creativity with a personal photo project.

We’re going to help you design a photo project that will challenge, educate, and inspire you. Most importantly: it’s a photo project you can actually finish.


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Avoid Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


Set A Realistic Photo Project Goal

We’re all about immersive art that requires months to complete and thousands of hours to execute. But most of us don’t have time to read this article, let alone attempt an all-encompassing photo project.

Think of your photo project like exercise: you know you need to do it; you know you’ll feel great if you do; but if you set unrealistic goals for yourself, you’ll experience burnout and it will never happen.


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Avoid Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


100 Days of Ten

Yale professor Michael Beirut developed the 100 Days Project, a workshop in which students repeat a creative process for 100 consecutive days. 

Life Unstill photographer Willy Wilson refined the project and called it 100 Days of Ten. In her iteration, creatives repeat their exercise for 100 consecutive days – but only for ten minutes each day.

“I believe many people fail to complete 100 Days projects because they overcommit, yet most people can realistically come up with ten minutes each day.” – Willy Wilson, Life Unstill

In the past two years, Willy has completed six 100 Days projects. Her most recent is 100 Days of Double Exposure, featured in this very blog post.


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Avoid Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


Plan Your Photo Project

A photo project without a plan is like a meal with no recipe. It may turn out well – especially if you have a lot of experience cooking. But if you’re new to the kitchen, it’s best to have a few guidelines in place before you get started.

What Do You Want To Make?

100 Days of Ten is intended to prevent burnout by only demanding a small amount of your time each day. Choose a photo project that can be developed every day in only ten minutes. Here are some examples:

100 Days of Portraiture. Fine-tune this exercise by defining who you will photograph. Will you make a portrait of your baby every day? Your dog? Yourself? A stranger on the street?

100 Days of Story. Document life with a single photograph each day. Enhance the theme by making each day’s photograph at the same time, or of the same activity (such as a meal).

100 Days of Technique. Grow confidant in a new technique by shooting every day. Double exposures, freelensing, long exposures… When the 100 days is over, you’ll be ready to bring your new skill to your client work!

100 Days of Social Media. Maybe your project isn’t a shooting project; maybe it’s a sharing project. Task yourself with posting to one social media platform every day for 100 days. With efficiency-boosting social-sharing tools, ten minutes is plenty of time to post!


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Avoid Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL

Honor Your Art

When you’re shooting for a client, you’re obligated to take their needs and requests into consideration. Client obligations are excellent for honing your creative consistency and business acumen; but personal photo projects are just that: personal. They’re meant to serve a new purpose, not merely repeat the box-checking of your ongoing client work.

Let go of others’ expectations, and honor the art begging to be released from your deepest, most creative soul.


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Avoid Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


Give Yourself Permission To Experiment

A photo project is your chance to not play it safe. Allow yourself to get weird, wild, and ridiculous as you broach this unfamiliar territory. Willy didn’t hesitate to tackle 100 Days of Double Exposures in an unconventional way:

“Because I create all my double exposures using the Multiple Exposure feature on my Nikon d800, I only have a few seconds to shoot the two images. This is limiting, since I may not have two perfect subjects on hand at the same time every single day. To work around this limitation, I invented a technique where I enlarge a previously-shot image on my computer screen, then photograph that image to create the double exposure.

Sometimes I shoot the first image live, then the second image on my screen; other times I photograph both images on my computer. I still have to guess the alignment and exposure, but now I have more image options. This double exposure technique helps me create the images I can see in my head, but can’t create in only five seconds.” – Willy Wilson, Life Unstill


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Avoid Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


Own Your Sh*t

Photographer and artist Carrie Hilgert attracted the attention of Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert (and her global fanbase) when Carrie illustrated Myrtle, a straight-talking ostrich who gazed through luminous eyes and declared: “Own your sh*t.”

You’ll need this advice as you embark on your first 100 Days photo project. The best photo projects do more than test your technique; they reveal something of your soul.

“What was really revelatory for me in this photo project was learning to let go of my fears about what other people would think of my work. I struggled when posting some of my images, worrying that I would have fewer likes or lose followers because not everything I created was pretty.

A project like this asks you to be vulnerable. Not every day is going to be wonderful, inspirational, or amazing. Some days are going to be sh*t and junk and that’s just part of the project. Ongoing daily projects are about the process, not the outcome. To share that process with the world can be scary and painful.” – Willy Wilson, Life Unstill

Know that attempting something new may feel scary, overwhelming, or frustrating at times; and that’s okay. That means you’re doing it right. You’ll know you’ve found your creative sweet spot when your photo project keeps you on your toes but doesn’t cause burnout!


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Conquer Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


Avoid Burnout With A Supportive Community

The world, your clients, or your mom may not understand your photo project. Or you may choose not to share it for very personal reasons. That’s okay, too!

Whatever your intentions, you need a creative community who can encourage you when you want to give up, provide feedback when you are unsure of how to proceed, and remind you that you are, in fact, AMAZING – especially when you’re feeling anything but.

“I created the 100 Days of Ten Facebook Group so people would have a more private place to share their 100 Days projects, and have discussions about their work. I wanted to create a space occupied by other participants, not the whole world.” – Willy Wilson, Life Unstill 

Look for real-life community in the form of meetups and creative gatherings, or tap into online communities like Willy’s Facebook Group!


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Conquer Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


Done Is Better Than Perfect

“Done is better than perfect.” – Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead 

Many of us artists are also perfectionists. We may have unmade beds or messy kitchens or mismatched socks; but when it comes to our art, we hold ourselves to high standards, and we beat ourselves up when we fail to meet those standards – no matter how absurd the standards are.

100 Days of Ten gives you permission to simply get it done, without getting it “perfect.” Perfection isn’t the goal. Completion is.


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Defeat Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


One Goal, Many Milestones

The end goal of your 100 Days photo project is completion; but along the way, you’ll mark many milestones: new techniques, fresh perspectives, innovative insights. These lessons will inform your next 100 Days project, and hopefully your everyday client work as well!

If you’re experiencing burnout in your paid work, a personal photo project will breathe new life into your creativity.

“I completed a previous double exposure project one year ago, but I felt like my double exposure work was unfinished, so I decided to repeat the photo project again. My first project was consumed by figuring out the mechanics of simply creating double-exposures. This time, I wanted to dig into more thoughtful image creation.” – Willy Wilson, Life Unstill

Eliminate the words “success” and “failure” from your vocabulary as you move through your 100 Days photo project. Replace them both with one word: “milestone.” Some milestones will be hard lessons. Some milestones will be cause for celebration. Every milestone is proof that you haven’t given up on your journey.


Done Is Better Than Perfect: The ONE Photo Project You Need To Try To Defeat Burnout
Photos by LIFE UNSTILL


Share Your Gift

When it’s time – when you’re ready – we’d love to see what you’ve been working on. Share in the comments below! And if you aren’t working on anything special yet, let this be your jumping-off point. We believe in you!


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