Category Archives: Annual Review

Flash photo a day - 365 photo project

I did it!

I shot a photograph a day in 2014 that utilized lighting (studio lights or flash units). I wanted to learn how to use lighting to make great photos – so this was my solution. I didn’t cheat either. Each day I shot a new photo (excluding 5 days during a family emergency). To see the whole photo project in a pinterest-style layout, check it out here. You can click on any photo to see it larger. As I wrap up this 365 day photo project, I want to recap what made this project a success – and it far exceeds just learning how to use photography lighting. Here are the many ways this photo project helped me grow and get better at my craft.

Create something I’m proud of every single day.

Something that isn’t directed by a client. Something I have full artistic control over. I’m the client! For so many years – literally since I started college and doing design on a professional level, I’ve never put forth a consistent effort to create for me. It forced me to get better because I couldn’t blame the flaws on ‘the pesky client’. I now see the evidence and benefit of having a side project that I have full control of.

Even if I had a day full of ‘minutia’ – I could look forward to the photo a day.

Even if I spent my day making detailed design or coding revisions and replying to endless emails, I could at least create one thing each day that I was proud of.

Think on my feet.

I was forced to think creatively every day. What would I photograph? How would I light it? How do I shoot a photo, edit it and post it when I have a looming deadline on a freelance project or other obligations? These challenges helped me think on my feet and push to create something I was proud of, whether I had 30 minutes or 3 hours to create something.

It made me a better designer and developer.

The act of creating a photo a day with lighting pushed me to be more agile and learn faster and try new things in other ares of my professional life – like web design and development. I would often think, “If I could figure out that lighting problem last night, why I can’t I solve this coding problem on this website?”

In these fresh stages of creativity, we are not affected by financial worries or job obligations—we are simply playing, expressing ourselves, making our soul grow and returning to the essence of creativity. The realizations that we recognize during these activities should be transferred over to our main craft.

Paul Jun

Practice makes perfect.

By doing something every day and trying something different each time, I learned a whole lot about good and bad light and how to use my equipment. Now, I feel that I’m a much better photographer than this time last year. I’m now thinking about how I can utilize this, ‘do something everyday’ concept to other areas of my life: web design/development, learning guitar and harmonica, photos of my daughter? How could I do something for just me in those area that I would learn a lot from and get a lot better?

It revolutionized my productivity.

I work a full-time job, do freelance work, home improvement projects, prepare for a new baby, AND this flash photo project. When I started this project, I was hesitant as to whether I could get everything done each day. Adding this photo project forced me to utilize my time wisely and get my work done first and procrastinate later (oxymoron, right?). What also helped was reading and applying the concepts in the book Getting Things Done

Landscape Photo Project

thank you

In 2012, this blog saw 1,906 unique visitors which is a 38% increase from 2011 and a 99% increase from 2010! 86% of  those 1,906 people were new visitors to the blog! The top three referring websites were digital-photography-school.com, google.com and facebook.com

I’m so grateful to each and every one of you who took a moment to check out my blog this year, ‘like’ it, comment or share the things I post here. Thank you!

Here are the 6 most visited blog posts of 2012:

1. Line and Shape in Nature

A photo project I did where I spent 10 minutes at a location just taking in my surroundings and then the next 5 minutes taking photos that show interesting line, shape, composition, subject matter. This forced me to really take in the environment before putting the camera to my eye.

2. What Widows & Orphans Really Are

This is a post from many years ago where I was responding to a few things online that I read where people had the wrong definition for the typographical elements of widows and orphans.

3. Poster Design

A few examples of posters I had designed during college

4. David Carson style type design

A few example designs that loosely follow the same design style of David Carson.

5. Truman Campus – Winter Sunset

Photos of Truman State University campus during a snowy sunset.

6. GOP Candidates & the Obama Design Aesthetic

This covers the odd similarities between the various Republican presidential candidate’s websites and Obama’s 2008 campaign website.

2012 Year in Review

Personally

  • Officially became free of all credit card debt while paying off 4 large debts using the debt snowball idea from Dave Ramsey
  • Completed numerous house projects – renovated kitchen, refinished shed, shutters, doors, etc.

Photography

  • Learned many new post-processing techniques to use while processing my photographs. Check out my photos here!
  • Became an exclusive contributer at iStockPhoto.com, meaning I no longer sell stock photos at many other websites. Learn more here!
  • Speaking of iStock, my earnings have quadrupled from 2011
  • Cranked out many watercolor raster illustrations which were really popular on iStock. Check them out here!
  • Created 33 stock photos (photos and illustrations combined) in 2012. This is down 300% from the previous year but the new work’s popularity outweighs the previous work’s popularity

Website Design

  • Honed my WordPress, responsive design, and HTML5/CSS3 skills through constant Lynda.com training courses

My business, Creative Improv

  • Worked with 25 clients to create meaningful websites, logos and print collateral. 10 of which were brand new client relationships

What I ‘shipped’ in 2012

In 2010, Seth Godin challenged his readers to think about what they ‘shipped’ the previous year. So here’s goes:

  • Crushed 4 debts
  • Created 33 Stock Photos
  • Crafted 15 Websites
  • Designed 3 Logos
  • Designed 4 Print Pieces
  • Crafted 3 Motion Graphics Pieces
  • Created 4 HTML Emails

2011 brought 1,375 unique visitors to my blog—that is a 61% growth from 2010. I’m grateful to everyone who took a moment to check out my blog this year, ‘like’ a post, comment or share the things I post here. Thank you!

I thought it would be interesting to check out some statistics for what the most popular posts were this year. In order – starting with most popular….

1. What widows and orphans really are

A brief description of what widows and orphans are in terms of typography. I quoted the ‘typography bible’, The Elements of Typographic Style to support my premise.

2. Poster design

A small showcase of a few posters I have designed – from 2008

3. David Carson style type design

A showcase of a few typographic exercises I completed while in college. This post features a David Carson style of design – really pushing the typography. I liked to call it my ‘make my professor happy’ era of designing.

4. Political impact of design on people

Here I discuss how design for politicians and political movements can negatively impact people. I discuss the very old Daisy commercial along with Sarah Palin and Barack Obama’s political design choices.

5. Designers don’t make things look pretty

I discuss the common phrase I hear; “You can make it look all pretty“. The fact is, designers communicate visually, not just make things look pretty.