Another day, another picture

January 20, 2012

On Jan. 1, 2011, I took a photograph. From then on, I took a photo a day for the entirety of 2011. These photos didn’t have much in common. I didn’t adhere to any specific guidelines. As an aspiring photographer with a consistent college course load, I simply wanted to ensure that I’d set aside a bit of time to pursue photography and would not get buried in the deep, dark hole that academia can be. The 365 photos I took in 2011 range from artsy, well-thought-out conceptual photographs to goofy ones of my friends and family, to crappy ones of my textbooks during miserable lab days. There were a couple of self-portraits scattered in there on days when I decided to experiment with the self-timer. There were also lots (and lots) of photos of food. I posted each photo on my Facebook photography page, along with a brief blurb, quote or sometimes nothing at all; it became a daily routine.

In these 365 days, there were many days when time and inspiration were plentiful. There were other days when the stress, frustration and exhaustion of both school and life, sometimes mixed in with a lack of time and energy, made it terribly difficult to focus on taking that one picture. The support and encouragement I received from friends, family and others, coupled with my own motivation, allowed me to power through it. And I’m so glad I did. I pushed myself; I stretched my mind more than I had thought possible. For example, on those cold, miserable winter nights when I couldn’t bring myself to step outside to take my photo of the day, I would have to find inspiration in my dorm room or somewhere else on my hall. At first it was simple: There was always something that was somewhat interesting to incorporate into the photo. After a point though, there wasn’t. It was through this frustration that I began experimenting with my desk lamp and playing with light ultimately to capture some of my favorite, most interesting photos in the project. Additionally, I continuously experimented with Photoshop and learned how phenomenal of a tool it truly is.

As cliched as this may all sound, I learned an incredible amount from this experience. By consistently taking these photos and learning new editing techniques, I developed a keener eye and became a better and more enthusiastic photographer. I also learned quite a bit about the world around me and life in general, and came to appreciate both more than I had ever before. I mean, there were days when my photos completely sucked. Like picture-of-random-crap-in-my-uninspiring-dorm-room-taken-at-11:59-p.m. terrible. But when it comes down to it, that photo just represents that day. And in one year, there are good and bad days. I had a great year on the whole, but I can’t have expected all 365 pictures to be perfect.

Now, amid my prior jumble of thoughts, I am getting to a point—a different point than I originally intended on making. On the first day of each year, my dad asks me what my New Year’s resolutions are. In my experiences, most of these resolutions I spew out don’t actually get accomplished. They are things that I want to happen but don’t ever really get around to doing. My 365 project was never a firm “resolution” for 2011; it was just kind of a thing I wanted to do. And it was the one thing that I did.

I rang in the new year with my best friends. After I posted my last photo of 2011, even though I was dead exhausted and it was entirely too late, I looked through all of my photos. I clicked through each one on my Facebook page and read my captions and re-remembered the big and little moments, essentially re-living the past year in 15 minutes. In those 365 days I experienced events to which many people can relate: the start of a new semester, really bad movies on Netflix, incredible professors, not so great professors, tragedy, reuniting with best friends from home, the Super Bowl, reuniting with best friends from school, questionable Sherman stir-fry, sibling rivalry, sibling love, cathartic summers, lovely and relaxing holiday seasons, losing touch with old friends, delicious home food, frustrating papers, long nights studying and liberating weekends. Happiness, sadness, joy, guilt, anger, fear, contentment and just about every adjective in front of, at the end of and in between these ones.

My camera became a part of me this year, which sounds completely dramatic, but is true. Through my 365 project, I gained invaluable knowledge and insight into my year and my world. And along the way I figured out that the year (like life) (and like my 365 project) (and like this article) has a way of not going how you originally anticipated it to go. My project started with a camera, some interest and a bunch of ideas. I never thought it could and would make my year so memorable, meaningful and fulfilling.

Seeing as I’m no motivational speaker or life coach, I think it’s best that I stop at that.

 

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