Sam Brown

What I learned sharing daily on Instagram

An account of how I faired with my under the radar Project 365

See all photos on my micro-site:

At the beginning of the year I challenged myself to share more of the content that I was creating. I take a lot of photos, all of them on my iPhone, but I was rarely sharing them. I wanted to change that.

Sitting in Ground Support cafe drinking an iced coffee on New Year’s Day, @becky and I were discussing what we wanted to accomplish in 2016.

For me, one of the things that I wanted to do was share more of the great things we were seeing, places we were going, and experiences that we were having living in New York City.

The easiest format I found to do that was by choosing to share a photo, every single day, publicly on Instagram.

My motivation was primarily to share more, to catalogue with tags, research the items I was shooting, and to create memories of the things we saw, and the places we went.

New York City is packed with stories, full of hidden gems in plain sight, just waiting to be shared.

Why Instagram?

I’ve been an avid Instagram user since the very early days, I loved the square post format, and I loved the early constraints. Remember when you could only post photos taken from within the app itself? I believe that the team at Instagram have done a really fantastic job of staying true to a lot of their original values whilst evolving the product over the years.

The feature set has changed and expanded dramatically, but the pure focus on content first is still inspiring. I considered a few alternatives, but as a daily user, and someone who uses their phone as their primary camera, it made the most sense.

What went well:

  • 97.3% completion rate, I missed 10 days for a couple of sound reasons.
  • I took a lot more photos because of this, different types and styles, and I have a huge library of great photos that I hope to share more of one day.
  • Shooting more photos is the one true way to improve your photography, I definitely noticed that personally.
  • A couple of months in I started shooting a daily one second video as well (using One Second Everyday), these make for a different take on your life, and more so saving precious memories of our daughter growing up.
  • I never really told anyone I was doing this, but many friends would often comment about enjoying seeing all of my photos. I also must thank them for their patience as I’d stop to take a quick snap on our walk to lunch. Worth noting, I shared all of my photos from Instagram to Facebook too.
  • I made it to the end of the year! If you attempt to do this, my best advice that I kept repeating to myself over-and-over, “just take one more photo… and post it, tomorrow it will be easier”.

Interesting things, by the numbers:


Turns out I had chosen a leap year to do what is commonly referred to as “Project 365”. :)


The actual number of days I ended up posting a photo. I purposefully chose not to post on the day of my grandmothers funeral in February, and I missed a few days in November for the birth of our daughter, Effie. (You bet I have photos for those days though!)


Photos shot with my iPhone in 2016, 25% of which were shot after Effie was born! Averages out to around 14 photos per day.


Almost ¾’s of my photos were tagged with a location, I’m surprised it was this high honestly. Admittedly I am biased here, but the Facebook Places location database… really isn’t great. Moving away from the far superior Foursquare places database made sense from a business perspective, but the impact it has had on the user experience makes me sad.


My Instagram User ID. I was an early user, but this really surprised me.


Blocked users. Using hashtags to keep track of the types of photos I was taking had one little downside, lots of “FOLLOW BACK FOR 5K NEW FOLLOWERS” comments. I reported a lot of the spam comments in a fun game of whack-a-mole, and I have to say, Instagram does a really good job handling this. I very often got updated reports in under 24 hours.


Unique hashtags. The main use case here was to catalogue the places and types of photos I was taking. NYC has a lot of great architecture, and I found myself often times taking photos of buildings and places, then doing research into the interesting backgrounds and stories.


You can’t really have enough backup methods, seriously. My setup isn’t perfect by any means, but it works. iCloud Photo Library, Dropbox backed up Photo Library, external HDD versions of all photos, and of late I’ve been using Google Photos too. The latter is an amazing resource for searching back across all of your photos.


Snapseed, VSCO, and Darkroom are my photo editing apps of choice. I’ll oftentimes under-expose my photos (because of direct sunlight or reflections) and Darkroom’s levels feature is absolutely first class. Snapseed, also a Google product, is full of great editing and tweaking features.


iPhone’s used through-out the year, my trusty iPhone 6s for the majority of the time before I upgraded to an iPhone 7+.

The 7+ easily has one of the best camera systems on it that I have ever used. The dual camera lenses are great, the 56mm especially for slight telephoto opportunities, but the best feature in my opinion is the optical image stabilization. It’s worth the price of admission, especially when shooting video.

Portrait mode has also lived up to my high expectations, while slightly gimmicky, I’ve shot some really great photos with it.


Non-square photo posted. I’m sucker for the original true Instagram format.

A project 365 was a fun creative outlet that forced me to explore and discover new places and things. I enjoyed the urge of pushing myself to go out and find something new worthy of capturing, of researching it, and of sharing that story.

It’s rewarding to look back on all of the photos that I’ve taken over the past year, and while my Instagram profile immortalizes these photos reasonably well, I wanted to put together a micro-site to better showcase everything I shot, take a look:

Questions? Drop me a line about anything, anytime:

This article was originally posted on Medium.

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Sam Brown co-founded Iterate, and was previously VP of Design at Foursquare. Based in NYC.