Many of us have looked at means to keep our photography fresh throughout the year, particularly those of us who suffer from one or more of the following symptoms:
- not enough hours in the day
- perfectionism, perfectionism, perfectionism
- chasing the ideal shot
and many other maladies that get in the way of what we might term our creative muse. Of course, most of these are self-inflicted, except, possibly, needing more than 24 hours to accomplish everything that we would like to do. All of these are a matter of priorities, some of which you may say are outside the sphere of our control.
One of the crutches that many of us photographers will use is to undertake a longer-term, simple project to give us at least the feeling that we’re accomplishing something along the lines of our craft (dear reader, there is a hint of sarcasm there….more on that later). Two years ago, I made the decision to grab a crutch and start a 365 day project, which went pretty well for a while, until I missed a day. The project was to simply take a photo every day, which seems simple enough, but wasn’t simple enough for me to complete; I think I lasted about 4 or so months.
Of course, the failure to complete this project had the opposite effect of the intended one: I was disappointed that I couldn’t complete something this simple; the cause of this failure was not my inability to perform simple tasks, but rather my failure to plan ahead, or, to be more precise for this case, to set the right criteria for success.
Nearly all of us enjoy the accomplishment of reaching a goal that we have set for ourselves or that we have accepted as a challenge from someone else. That being the case, why do so many of us fail to reach goals that we set for ourselves? I’ll admit freely that this is not the first ‘self-imposed’ photography project that I failed to complete (there are even some non-photography projects on this list).
The good part that came from this failure is that I spent a little bit of time mulling over the reasons that I didn’t complete this project; a little time, but not much, as there were other shiny objects to attract my attention in due time. Before I really understood the cause of my lack of success, I started another 365 Day project on January 1, 2013.
This project had a slightly different scope than my previous attempt; rather than leaving the project without any constraints, I decided to take a slight different strategy by setting the following constraints:
- Each image was to be taken and posted on the day it was due
- Each image was to be an Instagram
I will grant you that this is not very different from the previous attempt, as there was no constraint on subject matter, so the resultant images started all over the place, raining from items on my desk to flowers, cows, display cases, landscapes, what have you!
The initial foray into the 2013 project ranged from mildly inspired to uninspired photography, but at least lived up to the constraints that I set. Clearly, uninspired photography is not what the goal is of a 365-day project, but it often comes with the territory, as we don’t always see things that inspire us in our daily journey through life.
What was different this time around, is that I started recognizing that there were opportunities for some inspired photography along the way, as I started seeing things in ways that I had not before both in terms of noticing items and being forced to think in a square format. The other side effect is that I was reminded that there is a particular set of subjects in photography, for which my eye has a natural affection and I tend to photograph pretty well (even, if I say so myself – of course, we tend to be tough self-critics, which is one of the other things I learned to let go.
You can guess that there is a happy finish to this tale; I completed the 2013 365-day Instagram project with enough images of sufficient quality that I am putting them together in an 8×8 book (more on this in a future post), and, on the heels of rampant success, I have started my 2014 365-day project: 365 Skies. What you will see posted for the year in this project are all Instagrams, but I am also taking the same scene with my DSLR, so that I can produce high-resolution HDR images of each day’s sky. The reason for this is that I want to build my own library of skies to use in images in another series that I am slowly putting together: Surreal Tales (yes, you guessed it….there will be a future post about this).
My apologies for this long-winded post, which I hope you enjoyed. If this reminds you of something that has been challenging for you, I’d love to hear about your experiences.