Tuesday, July 2, 2013

How to Not Overthink a Photography 365 Project

by Kelly

A photography 365 project is kind of like brushing your teeth.  And like any good habit that a person tries to maintain, it takes a certain amount of discipline in the beginning, but pretty soon it starts to feel like second nature.  And on the off chance you forget about it, you might sit up in bed to go take picture of your kitchen sink.  Or so I’ve been told.

Anyway, yesterday marked the halfway point in my very first photography 365 project.  I decided to embark on this ‘take a photo everyday for a year’ journey for a couple of different reasons.

  1. I knew that a daily practice would be a great way for me to improve my photography skills.
  2. Because I am a scrapbooker,  I knew it would be a great way to capture my family’s everyday, ordinary life.

And the truth is, it has been very beneficial in both of those aspects.

Anyway, because I am a bit of a homebody, I would say a large majority my 365 shots are taken at home. My kid, family, pets. Things around the house and my garden flowers.  My ordinary life.

As much as I love all these things, I have to confess…there have been times during the past six months that I have been a little bored with taking the same kinds of photos over and over.  Uninspired if you will.  Kind of in a rut.

Well so one morning I was running through one of my nearby neighborhoods and I happened upon a trumpet vine that was in full, glorious bloom.  I thought to myself, “Man that is so pretty!  I should come back a take a picture of it!” And then I started thinking of how I might frame the shot, how I might treat it in post-processing.  I started to get excited to see the final product in my 365 Flickr set.  But then I thought, “Well you can’t put this in your 365 – it’s not your flower.”

Hello my name is Kelly and I am an overthinker.

So I pondered this this inner dialogue the whole rest of the way home.  I hadn't even taken the photo yet mind you.  But I knew I would love it. I could practically see it in my mind.  And then it finally dawned on my that although this beautiful vine wasn't technically in my yard, it was still in my figurative backyard. This neighborhood that I run through every Friday.  My neck of the woods.  And that seemed worthy of documentation.

So that’s what I did. I drove back to the trumpet vine with my dog and camera in tow.  And I spent the next ten minutes or so in complete bliss snapping away. 

I've been thinking about this, and by including it in my photo 365, I think what I have done is incorporate a sense of place…this is where I go…this is what I see.  And since taking that photo, I have done this same thing a couple of other times around my neighborhood.  Quite honestly it has made a big difference in my overall enjoyment of my 365 project and photography in general.

Well so I have to tell you…this new way of thinking about things was just the beginning.  Since my big ‘aha’ moment, I have given myself permission to play.  Freedom to explore and incorporate other types of photography into my 365 project.

So for instance, still life and food photography is something I've always admired in other photographers, but it’s just not something I have felt super comfortable with.  I don’t know…for some reason it has just felt contrived and manipulated whenever I look at my own stuff.  But what I’m starting to see is that so yeah, maybe my family doesn’t eat banana bread off the good china with the freshly cut loaf sitting just so in the background.  But it the thing is…those are my dishes – the ones from our wedding registry. And it’s the banana bread recipe I make from the church cookbook that belonged to my mom.

And maybe in my ordinary life, I don’t have little vignettes set up in my house with vases of zinnias everywhere.  But yet, zinnias are my favorite flower and remind me of my great-grandmother.  And that little white chair…well it’s just made photography all kinds of fun. 

And besides…doesn't that tell a story?  Isn't that just as worthy of documenting? 

I think the lesson here for me has been {gulp} that sometimes, {I can’t believe I am getting ready to say this} change is good. Really. It is. It is learning to see with new eyes. Learning to appreciate things anew.  And by doing so, it makes the ordinary…well... not quite so ordinary.  Which when you think about it, isn't that the whole purpose of a photo 365 project to start with?

So that’s how I learned to stop over-thinking my photo 365 project and feel inspired again.  How about you?  Have you or are you doing a photo-a-day project?  Have you ever felt uninspired? And if so, what are your tips or tricks for getting out of a photography rut. We’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page. 

Oh and did you see Terri’s announcement yesterday?  Focusing on Life is now on Twitter and Pinterest!  And we would just love for you to follow us there and join in the conversation.

Until next time, Kelly


Viv Halliwell said...

I still haven't embarked on a 365 yet because I felt that my life was too ordinary you give me pause for thought thanks

Sarah Huizenga said...

Great post Kelly! I have made attempts at a 365 project at least twice, but I can never make it through even one month. I am more a natural writer as opposed to a photography so if there isn't a story to go with the picture I have a hard time seeing the point of it. That being said this weekend when I had to go to Flickr for a couple of photos from the Creative Commons area I had one of those aha moments when I thought I really should have a variety of stock photos because you just never know when you might need them. Loved your overthinker comment.

AFishGirl said...

I haven't started one yet either but the idea regularly bumps through my mind. I laughed at the "not your flower" part. I used to think you could not move anything or adjust things. In the house or out. Like not even push back tree branches. Baby, we've come a long way....

Peggy said...

We can use our photography to document our unique life. What we see with our eyes is all worthy of a picture. It may seem mundane to us sometimes. We may have seen that lily every day as we passed by it. But stopping to use a camera emphasizes how that beauty affects us. That lily will not always be in bloom. In fact if its like some of my perennials it may not even be there in a few years. Why not freeze this moment to remember?

Dotti said...

Everywhere we go, everything we do, all of that is worth documenting and worthy of a 365, which, after all, is a documentary of our moments ... wherever, whatever they may be. {Coincidentally, I decided to begin a 365 yesterday. More about that in my next post! :-D}

Rosie Grey said...

I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post! Very inspiring! Thanks, Kelly, and yay you, for getting out of your comfort zone!

terriporter said...

Oh, Kelly, if you're an overthinker, than I must be the queen of it! I've done a 365 a couple of times and, although I can't say I 100% finished it, it was a great experience and I love the shots I took. You are right about what the act of daily shooting does to improve your photography! You are making me want to give it another try and see if I can make it all the way through the 365 days this time!

Focusing on Life said...

I tried a 365 last year and made it to the six month point. I found I was getting way too many of those "kitchen sink" pics, remembering that I hadn't taken a photo that day till I was lying in bed for the night! I believe I will do it again, or some version. I do love giving myself photography projects though and now you've got my mind churning....Thanks for sharing this Kelly.

Carol said...

I agree Kelly! I finally decided that the reason to do a 365 is to make your camera an extension of your arm - to learn how to photograph the same things in various lights, and moods, and to practice, as well as to show, your life. I completed a 365 and was happy with it.Now my kitchen table series on IG is my 365, and I have days I feel guilty about because they are uninspired for sure. But the series is supposed to reflect my life - which is sometimes but not every second inspirational! So I try to tell myself - this is the life Im reflecting - sometimes boring sometimes exciting, and a lot in between!

Katie said...

the problem with my 365 is that i forgot to end it at the end of 2011! i may be doing the longest 365 photo project ever! ; )

i love the whole idea of a 365 project (obviously!), but i never had a problem of keeping it close to home/back yard. i've learned to take my camera with me everywhere i go, and if i'm at a stop light and see a cool bumper sticker on the car ahead of me, i grab my camera, pray that it's a really long red light and shoot away. i like the little snippets i get of life around town, or even away, to look back upon.

congrats on your halfway point, and as always, beautiful photos!

Cathy H. said...

Oh, yes, Kelly, add those things you see and do! They're all a little bit of what you love. As I mentioned on your blog, I started a 365 project on my 60th birthday. (this month) I'm concentrating on finding and capturing light. I've done a 365 once before and did enjoy it. I didn't take the kitchen sink, but I did take the microwave clock at 11:59 p.m. It was all I could think of!!

stephmull said...

Such an inspiring post, Kelly! I completed a 365 last year and started one this year, but gave up after day 35. I think I needed to give myself permission to not take a photo every day! But I'm feeling ready to get started up again.

Beautiful photos, as always!

Jeanne said...

Great shots and what a wonderful AHA moment you had. One of the multitude of joys of photography!

CarolHart said...

Great post Kelly. I too am doing a 365 project. Actually have been doing it now for a year and a half, on my phone. I have Project 365 app with an alarm set to remind me to take a picture every day. I have to say though, it never occurred to me to restrict my picture taking to my own property! I actually take lots and lots of pictures every day and at the end of the day I choose one that I think best represents the day. That could be a picture of an event I was at, a picture of a friend I met for lunch, a picture of a flower that I worked on in my various camera apps, etc. So glad you have given yourself permission to document more of your life experiences, where ever you are!

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