“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard
1,095...the number of days in the past three years...the number of days that I have picked up my camera in the past three years.
I started my first 365 project in 2013 with the goal of improving my photography. As it turned out, photography has become a way of life for me. It is my daily practice for my pursuit of mindfulness and being fully present in my own life. And here I am...1,095 days later, still taking a photograph everyday.
As each of the previous three years has drawn to a close, it's always the same question...is daily photography something I want to continue? Is it helpful? Is it worth the time and energy? Do I have anything left to say, photographically speaking?
As in previous years, this year my answer to the question was yes.
In the case that you have decided to take on a photo 365 (+1 for leap year) this year, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts and insights that I have gained from the past three years. Because, like all new endeavors, it's easy feel inspired and motivated in the beginning. But as with any year-long project, there will always be bumps in the road. And, for me, January is a big one.
The short days of January are my achilles heel, and so to combat the problem, I usually try to take my photo in the morning. But on this morning I was running late and decided that I would do later. Except that I had to work late and it was dark by the time I got home. So this was my shot for January 7, 2016. There is nothing spectacular about this photo other than it's sort of homey. But this is my real life and this shot tells that story.
I think this might be the most important piece of advice that I could offer someone embarking on a 365 project...you will take some less than stellar photos and it's best to just go ahead and make peace with that right now. I mean until the day that I can make a livable wage taking pictures of my beside table (kleenex box and all!), my other responsibilities to my family will always come first. It's not that I am not making my photography a priority - because I am! - it's just that I have to be realistic about it. And when unexpected things like this happens, I take the shot and move on.
But when time does allow, I expose different compositions and perspectives. I play with exposure - currently I am experimenting with under-exposing my shots a tiny amount. Loving the deeper, richer tones and moody shadows.
More than anything though - more than camera settings or post-processing - the skill I am working on the most is my vision...my creative vision. Learning to see things in a new way.
And I think that is why I continue to take photos everyday...because there always so much room for growth here.
So if you have embarked on a 365 (+1) project this year, don't get intimidated by the number. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. All you have to do is pick up your camera and take a picture. There is no 365 police judging your work. There is no one to answer to... just your heart and desire to capture the magic and wonder in your life. And this year we have 366 opportunities to do so.
Until next time,
P.S. In case you didn't know, we have a special Flickr group just for photo 365 projects. There you will find thousands of inspiring images taken by the talented members of our community.