You guys, I did it! I finished my 365. May 1 last year I decided to start shooting every single day. I figured a 365 project and posting on Facebook would hold me accountable (ahem, please ignore some of those photos from the beginning), but I didn’t want to wait until January 1 the next year so I didn’t. It kind of felt like starting a diet on a Wednesday afternoon, but I just went with it. When people ask me for tips on shooting I always tell them to start shooting daily. Over the course of the year (a year!) I learned and improved so much more than I could have imagined. Here are a few things that I learned:
1. I learned that I really love shooting the everyday boring stuff. I absolutely love it. I’m an introvert and a homebody. While I have fun meeting new people and going out with friends, my safe spot is at home in my pjs. It makes sense to me that I would also love shooting in my home. I still really like going out and shooting at new places, but I’m drawn to the comfort of the familiar.
2. I learned how to shoot indoors. Shooting indoors can be intimidating with mixed lighting, low lighting, tight places and clutter. I had no idea what I was doing in the beginning, but by picking up my camera everyday and practicing inside our small house, I saw huge improvements.
3. I learned how to tell a story in a single image. Okay this one is also related to a workshop I took last August, but I was already heading in that direction when the class started. By committing to taking ONE photo each day, my focus was usually on getting that ONE image to be as strong as I could make it. I wanted to take and share the single most meaningful image each day and that really pushed me to say what I wanted to say in the fewest words… I mean… images possible.
4. I learned that if I have a safe place to experiment, I will. I had 365 opportunities to try something new for myself. I had 365 days to avoid taking the same, boring photo over and over. If I tried something different and it turned out horribly, I tried it again or I just got fewer Facebook ‘likes’. And speaking of Facebook ‘likes’…
5. I learned that ultimately, I’m shooting for myself. Ah, Facebook. A few times over the year, I would get wrapped up in how many ‘likes’ my images received after I posted them. It only took a few times of feeling bad before I remembered that these are all pictures that I took for my family and myself. Ten years from now I won’t care or even remember how many ‘likes’ a picture got. I will remember what Silas looked like when he laughed his head off or how he was obsessed with a particular toy.
6. I learned that kids have a lot of funny habits that they grow out of quickly. This is probably the main reason why I became so passionate about shooting only storytelling sessions for clients. When I look back at the pictures from this past year, I am reminded of so many ridiculously cute things that Silas did. What surprised me was how many things I didn’t remember until I saw a particular picture. Silas changes weekly and I would never have been able to remember all of the things he did that made me stop and smile if I didn’t have these pictures. They mean so much to me already!
7. I learned that some days just suck. Creatively and as a parent. Several times I had to force myself to pick up my camera and even more times, I skipped a day. Yep. I skipped days. Never more than one or two, but it happened. The first time it happened, I had to really think about why I was doing a 365. The important thing for me was to shoot often. I wanted to improve and I wanted to document Silas’ life. I decided that if I ended the year with 365 different photos and picked up my camera mostly daily, then I’d count it as a win. Some days I was sick or Silas was sick. Some days I had no inspiration and I hated the thought of having to take one more picture in our house. Thankfully, those days passed quickly and I finished the year with mostly good days.
8. I learned that I’m a reactive photographer. Before I started this project, I hadn’t really thought about the type of photographer I was. I’ve realized though, that I’m not all that creative or original. Everyday that I’d wake up, I would have no idea what my picture for the day would look like. The same goes for client sessions. There is no amount of planning or dreaming up shots that I can do that will help. In fact, I rarely have an idea for a shot until I have the camera up to my eye, which is also why I don’t shoot traditional portrait sessions. Realizing that I’m the type of photographer who doesn’t see an image until right before or as it’s happening (and still being fast enough to capture it) was such a relief. Instead of worrying about posing and planning, I focused my energy on being able to predict how a scene would unfold and becoming comfortable with reacting and shooting quickly.
9. I learned that I still have so much to learn! More than anything, this project taught me how vast the photography world is. There will never be a point where I will feel like I’ve learned all there is to learn.
I started my project right after I started my Facebook business page and before I officially went into business. Finishing my 365 has forced me to stop and look back at what I have done in this past year and how far I have come. In a year, a single year, I decided to go for it. I decided to learn as much as I could and practice as often as possible and I’m proud of where that got me. I had no idea when I started that I would learn so much; I didn’t even think I had that much to learn.