Emerging Talent: Interview with 17-Year-Old Alex Stoddard on his 365 Project

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock, we’ve all heard of the 365 day projects – where a photographer takes a photo of something in their life every day for a year. (You might also have been living under a rock if you missed my new “Emerging Talent” series announcement…). With 365 projects – not unlike new years resolutions – many start, few finish. One photographer, a young fellow named Alex Stoddard, not only finished the project BUT is just 17 years old and has created a remarkable body of work in the process. Think you don’t have anything to learn from a 17 year old photographer? Think again. And take a minute now to check out his work via the image tabs above…

Also, I was intrigued by his work, so we asked him a few questions…

CJ: Your 365 days project is really remarkable as 1) you actually finished it and 2) each photo is of a remarkably high quality, with obvious thought, dedication, and passion put into them (especially relative to some other 365’s I’ve seen…). What inspired you to begin this daunting project in the first place?

AS: I had been taking photographs for only a couple of months before I had begun my 365 project, and I wasn’t seeing a difference each time I would go out to shoot. I wanted more than anything to improve and to improve quickly, and I had seen several others embark upon their own 365 projects – most notably Rosie Hardy – and witnessed the growth from their first photo in the set to their last. I wanted that growth for myself, and so I started taking a photo each day. Another part of it was this almost subconscious need for completion. I’d never finished anything in my life up to that point. I’d always given up when things became too difficult. I wanted to be able to prove to myself that I was capable of finishing something I started.

CJ: What was the biggest challenge in completing it?

AS: Finding the time to take a photograph every day. I took on the project during my junior year of high school, which ate up a lot of my time, and I had a part-time job at a restaurant four-five days a week as well. It was definitely difficult to manage my time, and I neglected my sleep and social life completely to dedicate myself to my 365 project.

CJ: Tell us a little bit about your creative process, both during shooting and in post.<

AS: I don’t think my process is terribly different than the standard. Sometimes I will think of a concept or idea for a photo and develop it until I am ready to shoot it, but more often than not, I end up winging it. Often I will gather up a variety of props and outfits and head out to a location, hoping to become inspired on the spot. That’s a completely hit-and-miss method. Presently, I spend more time in the planning stages, but I can remember during my 365, walking around in the woods for hours on end, in active pursuit of inspiration. In post processing, I usually have an idea of how I’d like my image to look in the end, and thus I’ll go about using different tools to achieve that. None of my images are processed in the same way. Processing is based entirely upon the unique photograph.

CJ: And do you have any advice for other people who want to embark on the 365 days project?

AS: Start now! If you are even considering the 365 project or wish to become a better photographer, go out today and snap the first photograph in your series. There is no point in waiting for a better time. None is better than the present. That said, I would also encourage these photographers to put their best efforts into each day and to strive for improvement. Don’t fall into the trap of shooting the same thing every day, because that will lead nowhere. Do the things that scare you. Take risks.

CJ: What’s your favorite piece from your project?

AS: This piece is my favorite, here.

Check out Alex Stoddard’s flickr here, and again make sure to click through the photos above to see more examples of his work.

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