In 2008 I completed my first ‘One photo a day’ for a year project. I found it quite a struggle and it almost drove me a little crazy at times. When I was finished I felt very burnt out for photography and it took me quite a while to get my mojo back. I tried fairly hard to get good, arty shots each day and possibly got a bit frustrated and upset if I didn’t get what I was after. When I finished, dazed as I was, I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment.
For this years project I went into it with a whole different attitude. This time I told myself that it would be more of a photo journal rather than an art project and I gave myself full licence to take ‘cop-out’ shots where necessary. With work and kids there are enough stresses in my life so I also said that if it got a bit much that I would just give it up. The fact that I’d already notched up one before helped here.
How did it go?
With all those pre-conditions I actually found it fairly easy this time, I certainly can’t remember a time that I felt pressured or in a tizzy about it. I more or less took my Canon 5D around with me everywhere, despite it’s bulk. It was therefore fairly straightforward to get a shot somewhere in the day. Equipment-wise this year, I had a better camera in the 5D rather than my old 20D but no macro lens as I’d sold it to get my iPhone. I remember relying on the macro quite a bit in 2008 to get those shots indoors at night. In a way I’m glad it wasn’t an option this time as I took more pictures of scenes rather than objects which suited the photo journal approach better.
The big issue this year was not so much taking the pictures, it was uploading them to Flickr. It’s interesting to note that since i’ve had a smartphone where I can take a picture, edit it if necessary and upload it within seconds or minutes it now seems an imposition if it takes longer. The knock-on effect of this has been that I now resent having to take out my memory card, plug it into the card reader and input the photos into Lightroom before editing and uploading. At first I would upload my photo each day but by the end I was doing it every 5-6 days.
Projects within the project
I had two main mini-projects to help me along during the year. The first was to document my cycle route to work which for a while was giving me 1 or 2 pictures a week. The other was an (overly) ambitious project called ’52 Portraits’. The idea was for me to take one portrait a week for the whole year. I loved the idea of this but I think i should have planned it a whole lot better as I kind of ran out of people willing to have their picture taken after about 20 weeks. Still as long as it lasted it gave me another day each week that I could include in the overall 365 project. Despite neither of these mini-projects quite coming off I’m glad I had a go as they gave me a bit of focus early on. They are also topics that i can easily pick up later if I want to.
Am I a better photographer?
My own self assessment is that I’m a much more rounded photographer this time around than I was in 2008 and the equipment that I’m using is a lot better. On the other hand I think I’ve also become a lot more accepting of snapshots and less worried about ‘arty’ shots than i was. In a sense my photography has come full circle. I’ve gone through being irritated by people being in my pictures and the desire to get the perfect framing and exposure. I’m a lot more interested these days in just recording what I’m seeing. I certainly take a lot more pictures of the family than I used to. I therefore wouldn’t say that I’ve got much better technically but I have got a lot more comfortable in my picture taking.
I completed my first 365 (actually 366) in 2008 and this one in 2011 which makes me due another one in 2014? As I rely on taking so many of these pictures on my way to work I don’t think i could face doing it again till I work (or live) somewhere else. I have no immediate plans to move by then but you never know what will be happening?
A less stressful and angst ridden project this time but also slightly less fulfilling one somehow. That said, I’m glad I did it and would consider doing it again one day. Not in 2012 though.