It’s the new year and you may have set yourself some photography goals like embarking on a 365 project or perhaps the less intimidating 52 week project, like I have. (Oh crap just realised I need to take a photo by tomorrow!). John is a regular on the RAW Live Facebook group and last year successfully completely a 365 project. This year he is embarking on another one so for a bit of inspiration have a read of how he tackles the mammoth task.
Tell us a little about yourself?
My name is John D. Kittles. I’m originally from the Atlanta Georgia area but I currently hang my hat outside of Eunice, Louisiana, a small town in between Lafayette and Lake Charles Louisiana. I’ve been married to my wife Melody since April of 1994. I have three children, my son Noah is 16 years old and two daughters, Shiloh who is 11 and Rowan who is 8. I’ve used my family for some of my photography shoots or just catching my kids playing around. I retired after 20 years in the US Air Force. I’m currently working for a local company installing wireless internet in people’s houses and taking pictures everyday.
What inspired you to get into photography?
Storms is what inspired me to get into photography. I love trying to catch lightning. It’s probably my favorite thing to catch. The challenge of it especially daytime lightning is fun.
What made you take on the massive task of the 365 project?
After retiring from the Air Force back in 2008, we moved back to Louisiana so I could go to school. I bought a Canon Rebel XS dSLR because film developing was expensive and my income was cut drastically. After a while, I put my camera down and didn’t really use. I was going to school full time and didn’t make the time for photography. Well, for some reason, in September 2011, I picked my camera back up. I guess I needed a hobby to occupy myself. I joined some photography groups on Facebook to learn some stuff. Once I got into it, I remembered how much I really loved photography. As the end of December 2011 came around, other photographers were talking about doing a year long project, a 366 Project. I figured the best way to improve is jump right in and take on a year long project. And it started and I haven’t stopped since.
What’s the best thing you learnt throughout the whole 365 project?
A couple of things – the more you shoot, the better you get. I’m proof of that. Seeing things differently than before. I look at things creatively now. I don’t just look at something, I see the potential it has. How I’m going to portray that picture to the rest of the world. I would have never done that a couple of years ago.
You’ve just started another 365 project this year, are you nuts???
Why, yes. Yes I am. I’m addicted. I love absolutely love shooting. You aren’t the first person to think I’m nuts doing another year long project.
What do you plan on doing differently this year than you did last year?
I’m hoping to shoot more people other than family and friends. I’m not a people person. I would be totally out of my comfort zone if I started shooting people. I want to do more trick and night photography. I might even break down and get an OCF and learn that.
How do you deal with photographers block?
I walk around my yard and my next door neighbours yard (they are my in-laws) and find stuff. When it’s not wet to walk around, I have access to 40 acres of property, rice bins which has a 20 foot ladder so I can get some nice perspective shots of the area. There is plenty around here for me to shoot, it’s really hard to get photographers block.
What gear are you using?
Canon Rebel XS I bought back in 2009. 18-55mm kit lens, 28-90mm kit lens, 75-300mm lens. A screw on Macro lens for the 18-55mm and 28-90mm lenses when doing my Macro shots. A tripod I got for a present last year and a window mount for my car to catch lightning shots so I can get out pretty quickly when the weather gets bad. Nothing fancy for gear. A four year old camera that Canon doesn’t make anymore. That’s pretty much it.
What post processing tool do you use the most?
I use Lightroom for the initial post processing and Photoshop to finish it up.
What’s your favourite photography accessory other than your camera?
My remote release. If I didn’t have my remote release, I wouldn’t have been able to get some of the star trails and lightning shots I got last year.
Any advice for people undertaking a 365 or 52 week project this year?
Yes. Get out and shoot. If it’s 5 pictures from your front door or 100 pictures while on the road, get that camera in your hand and shoot. There were days last year when I took 10 shots. There were days when I took 300 shots (not counting the star trail shots). Find a technique you have never tried before, whether it be HDR, Star trails, Macro, Storm shots and practice. If you want to learn, if you want to grow, the only way to do that is to shoot.