Photographer Mike Deal set himself a pretty big challenge: to take 2,013 portraits in the year 2013. And he succeeded. 

Towards the end of December, 2012, the Winnipeg Free Press employee had been contemplating embarking on a year-long project that would help him become a better newspaper photographer.

"One of the things that I always have trouble with is walking up to strangers and just introducing myself and saying, 'Hey I want to take your picture,'" he said. "As a reporter, just getting out there and meeting people is half the job."

Deal said it was pretty tough at first. He went through long stretches, especially during the winter months, where he didn't take any portraits at all, then other days where he would take 50. "It was hard to force yourself to get out there and talk to people."

But it definitely got easier along the way. He particularly enjoyed taking photos for two days straight at the Winnipeg Folk Festival where he took what he considers his best portrait, of a mother with her newborn baby.

"When I looked at it after the fact, that one just stood out -- just the way she had smiled, it was almost like a Mona Lisa-type smile. There was a look in her eye," he said.

Deal feels there is a big handful of portraits that really stand out for him. "Shooting 2,013 portraits, you're going to get a few good ones," he quipped. "Ultimately I'd say that I got 50 that I really like, that stand out to me. That made it totally worthwhile."

Deal is a friend and colleague of David Lipnowski who had a similar idea, his 365 Portrait Project. But unlike Lipnowski, who took a photo each day and spent time with each subject using professional lighting and backgrounds, Deal decided on a simpler approach. All of his portraits were taken using the hipstamatic app on his iPhone, so there's a simple, raw appeal to his photos. He also decided not to name his subjects. He wanted to keep it anonymous, so each picture is just given a number.