Lofty ambition for 2009: Take a photograph every day
Number of daily photographs taken: 253
A brief re-imagined diary of the project:
January. I can do this! I am armed with my little point-and-shoot camera, ready to find something picture worthy every day. A little vacation to my hometown provides fodder for plenty of photographs. Memories. These are beautiful, beautiful memories.
February. If I don’t take a photo first thing in the morning, or perhaps when I come home for lunch, I am scrambling around to beat the sunset. I need the natural light! Too many crappy photos taken just because I need to take one.
March. Oh my gosh! My camera isn’t working. What am I going to do? I want a DSLR, but we’re saving for the baby. What to do? What to do?
March (later). Big sigh. Somehow the camera started working again. Forge ahead.
April. Baby is due this month. I bought a disposable camera and packed lots of batteries just in case the camera stops working at the big moment.
May 1. Welcome, baby Lily! The camera works.
May and June. Camera died for real this time. We bought a cheap point-and-shoot, but I’m too tired to take photographs. I spend a lot of time sleeping and staring at my daughter.
July. I am seriously considering abandoning the project. Taking care of an infant is work enough. But I rifled through the photos I’ve taken and found that it’s more than I thought. Many photos of the same little face, and many more days lost.
August. Vacation at the beach with family. Lots to capture. I returned to teaching part-time, and I feel like I’m working all the time. The camera is idle.
September and October. Working is too much. The sun never shines. I may never get out of bed again. I started a project called 30 Days of Happiness in an attempt to relieve my funk. My husband buys me a DSLR for my birthday – some relief. The project is a burden. Photography is a burden. Everything is a burden.
November. The holiday season begins and the semester ends. Light at the end of the tunnel.
December. I finally figured out the manual settings on my camera. Somehow I still lost two days this month. The project is complete, and I am deeply satisfied.
What I learned
Don’t give up! Persevere to the end, even if it’s not perfect, even if many, many days are lost. In spite of losing a hundred or so days, I still have a year’s worth of photographs and memories. And in none of them do I see the darkness I felt for a significant part of the year. All I saw was what’s beautiful in my life – the simple, ordinary, lovely things I have that have sustained me through this year’s ups and downs. Most importantly I saw two faces that give me security and purpose and more love that I could ever hope.
Carry your camera with you. If you have a point-and-shoot or a camera phone, you’re all set. Both are portable. Digital SLRs take better photos, but they are bulky and expensive and completely unnecessary for this project.
Don’t be embarrassed to snap a picture of a table. Or a lampshade or your messy kitchen or a tomato. Some of the best photographs aren’t of people’s faces. Faces are important and worth documenting (especially when they are tiny and seem to change every other day), but ordinary things are beautiful, too.
Taking a photograph every day will make you a better photographer. I look back at the photos I snapped at the beginning of last year and the ones I take now, and I’ve come a long way. Inherently you’ll learn about composition and lighting by trial and error. Don’t be afraid to try different things. Take lots and lots of photos. Be thankful for digital photography.
This project changed my life, or at least the way I see my life. And it helped rekindle my passion for art and creative pursuits. Even though we’re already into a new year, I recommend giving the 365 project a shot (pun intended). Start now! Carry your camera with you and photograph your beautiful life.