Holy crap, I did it!
I’m not sure that I was convinced, back when I launched this project a year ago, that I really expected to actually finish it. And I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned.
A year ago, I was using my Nikon dSLR mostly in the program modes. I didn’t know what bokeh was, and I’d never heard of TtV photography. I had a passing understanding of the basics of photography — shutter speed vs aperture vs ISO, depth of field, rule of thirds, exposure compensation, etc etc etc — but I rarely consciously employed them and even more rarely pushed their boundaries or deliberately ignored them in wondering what the result would be. I never mucked about with my camera settings. I thought using Photoshop made images less “true” and never post-processed any of my images save to correct egregious errors. I was shy about pointing my camera at anything but the most obvious photographic subjects in public, and would never dreamed of approaching a stranger and asking them if I could photograph them. I’d never shot in RAW and posted all my images in straight-out-of-the-camera colour. I didn’t know what EXIF data, rear-curtain shutter, tilt-shifting, hot shoes, photoshop actions or vignetting were. I could count on one hand the number of times I’d posted a photo to a group on Flicrk, or made a comment, or received a comment.
I’ve come a long way, baby! I’ve had more than a dozen photos “Explored” by Flickr, I’ve had a photo featured as the “Photo of the Day” by a large group, and I’ve been asked for permission to use my images on a few websites. My 365 project was featured on CBC Radio at the half-way point last July, and I’ve even sold some of my images. Who woulda guessed it?! Mostly, though? I learned to love taking pictures. And, damn, I think I’ve gotten pretty good at it!
When I started the 365 project, I had only the vaguest idea of what I wanted from it. I imagined I’d take a snapshot every day of the boys, or things around the house, or the places I went during the day, and every couple of days I’d throw them up on Flickr and that would be it. I had no idea that within a month or two, I’d have raised my own personal bar so high that I would drive myself crazy for the rest of the year trying to live up to it. A snapshot would simply not suffice. Not content to take just any picture, suddenly I had to take a good picture — and the definition of “good” was a sliding scale. I blame and thank the members of the 365 Community almost exclusively for this. More than just a place to dump pictures, the 365 Community is an amazing collection of really first-rate photographers and super-nice people, and had I not been welcomed into the group early in the project, I imagine things would have turned out much differently. Not only did they support and encourage me with comments and feedback, but they inspired me to do better each time I perused their photostreams.
And then, of course, there’s you, my bloggy peeps. I can’t tell you how pleased I am to know that a few of you started your own version of a 365 project because of me, and the comments and e-mails I received from people who said they were inspired to pick up a camera because of my pictures — dozens of them, over the year — is truly an honour.
If you’re considering starting your own 365 project, here’s my advice for you: go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose (except maybe a few hundred hours) and everything to gain. I had no idea how hard it would be, but I also had no idea how rewarding it would be. I knew I would get a few pictures I loved and would capture in pictures the minutiae that I love to capture in words on the blog, but I had no idea I’d learn so much, meet such amazing people, and have such an amazing body of work to look back upon.
The best and worst part about a 365 project is that no matter how awful your picture of the day might be, in your own estimation, there’s always tomorrow. And no matter how worth of a National Geographic cover you may think your latest image, you’ve got to start over again the next day.
Out of more than 16,000 shutter clicks (!!) since January 20, 2009, here are my top ten favourites:
I think this is my fave of the year. I love everything about this picture — the hand, the way the pear seems to be reaching for Lucas, the reflection in the table, the depth of field, the back lighting.
Fun and silly, but eye-catching. I like the story I was telling as much as the image: “Deep in the Orion Nebula, baby stars grow in translucent eggs until they are ready to hatch and float away…”
The beginning of my obsession with fingers and toes.
Multi-Mom, my cloning experiment. Turns out photoshop is a lot of fun!
Not even an official 365 picture, but representative of all the images of the boys I’ve learned to take this year. This picture makes me smile every time I look at it, and isn’t that the whole point?
Because I developed a love of vintage cameras — and typewriters! — during my 365 project. Besides, you had to know a TtV shot would make the top 10.
A perfect example of the things I might never have noticed, let alone photographed, before my 365 project.
What on earth would make me take my camera into the stairwell at the office to take a picture of the people walking in the rain seven stories below? Only Project 365, I assure you.
And I never would have thought to pull off the road and creep around a park in the pre-dawn gloaming (at minus 2C, no less) poking around for worthwhile images if I weren’t looking for something worthy of the photo challenge I was in — and eventually won!
Okay, so maybe I had some photographic knowledge and instincts before I started the 365 project. This one of Lucas and I reflected in the collandar was taken on Day 5 of the project, and remains one of my favourites.
There’s a lot (really? a lot!) of mediocre shots in the project, too, and a very few that I outright dislike. On the whole, though, I love how they capture the world as I saw it this past year, and how evocative each of them is of the time and place I took them.
So, you might ask, what’s next? I
agonized over toyed with a few ideas over the last couple of months, including a TtV 365, a 52×7 (seven pictures a week but not one each day), and a couple of other variants on the theme. Much as I like the challenge of finding new ways to see the world each day, I have to admit it’s become a little tedious recently. You know how much I love my new job, but the industrial park where it’s located is far from the rich milieu of photographic opportunities I had when I was working smack dab in the middle of the Market, the Canal and Parliament Hill, which you’ve seen was a massive source of fodder and inspiration this year. I might yet set my sights on something like a thousand picture project, but one with no time constraints. We’ll see!
Mostly, though, I’ve set out what I wanted to do. I’m sure I’ll continue to take way too many pictures, and if you want me to, I’ll continue to talk about them here. In fact, I kind of hope to keep taking at least one picture every day. But on those days when it’s somehow gotten to 8 pm and I still have lunches to make and the swiffer to be run and a load of laundry to fold and no photo? It will be one less thing to worry about.
And so, here it is — the last picture. Almost from the start of the project, I thought about what this image might be. At various points in the last little while, I’d imagined it would be the old Underwood manual typewriter, with the words “365:365 THE END” typed on the piece of paper, or maybe a close-up of the boys with the numbers 3 6 5 written on each of their cheeks. This one came to me yesterday, though, and evolved from the idea of a high shot looking down at me looking through my pictures to this:
(Whatever you do, don’t tell Beloved I suspended the Nikon from the chandelier with a gorillapod and some duct tape during the baby’s nap, or this may well be the last picture you ever see me take!)
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