the bright-side to being uncomfortable | by Kristen Ryan


When I first dove into my photography, I did it on my own. I researched and learned everything I could on as many topics as I could. I taught myself to use manual mode, I took classes on compositions. I took pictures like crazy. I found a passion and I wanted to learn how to take pictures like those artists I admired on all the websites I was learning from. Then I read an article about doing a 365 project. I kept seeing how many people said it changed their work dramatically for the better and I knew I wanted to start one. However I knew myself, I knew there was a strong chance that when I lost interest or got bored with it that I wouldn’t finish it. I honestly started the project KNOWING I wouldn’t finish it.  


After a couple weeks into my project, I came across a post in a photography forum asking if anyone was interested in joining a 365 group. Now let me just say, at this time in my life I was (and really still am) very much an introvert, even online. I am generally a quiet person who doesn’t talk much and the thought of having to socialize with people I didn’t know really brought the anxiety. So I  passed by the post and went on with my project. A day or so later I was feeling brave and I knew if I had someone keeping me accountable I would be more likely to complete this project. I was already seeing how hard it was going to be. I mean how on earth was I going to come up with a picture EVERY SINGLE DAY.  So I put my information in. Within 15-minutes my anxiety set in and I went back to delete my information.  However, it was too late, they added me to the group and off we started.  


This was probably the best thing that has ever happened to my photography journey. Maybe it was a mix of luck, fate, hard work, dedication. When our group first started we were all surprisingly in the same ballpark of our photography journeys. This was our first attempts at a 365 project. We quickly challenged each other and encouraged one another in our quest. We required that each of us commented on the others works to stay apart of the group and post regularly. This was tough in the beginning, but the encouragement I was received and the critiques I was learning from made me want to continue posting and continue my path.

We saw each others lives play out in photos on a daily basis. We built a friendship with one another. Women from all over the world sharing a single passion. I had never been apart of such a community. It was inspiring. They pushed me to put myself and my work out for the world to see; something I know I would not have done on my own. I second guessed myself too much. I told myself my family and friends were "just being nice" (which I know now is not true.) I knew this group would be honest and I was encouraged by seeing the growth in their own work. I pushed myself and challenged myself and I am well beyond the point I ever thought I could be. I wholeheartedly believe it started from that fantastic bunch of women.


Four years later we are still apart of each others lives, many of them have gotten to meet one another and go on occasional photowalks together. We follow along as others start new projects and help each other when we have questions. I am very grateful for my Clickin 365 ladies. I hope if you come across the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone and try something new that you take it. You never know what could come next.