Thursday, December 20, 2007

Project 365: a whole new view of my life

I started posting a photo a day over on Julie Unplugged 365 last year the day after Christmas. I'm now a few days away from the end of a year's worth of photos. There are many more than the 365 a year represents on that blog. There were days I couldn't contain myself and posted more than one. Of course, later in the year, I found it harder to keep up and perhaps missed a day or two and then made up for them later. I'm proud of the fact that I stuck with it regardless, and continued to post pictures even when I got bored of my own world and uploading photos.

When I began the project, I worried that I couldn't sustain a year long daily project. Peer pressure in the kindest form drove me to the commitment anyway. All my online buddies were 365-ing so I wanted to join them. It's been amazing to see their worlds through photos after only knowing most of them through words for the last seven years. I also met a whole new bunch of bloggers through 365: Scrivener, Jo(e), Jayfish, Ianqui, Billie, and Overread. I learned a LOT from their photos. Clearly this was a crowd who knew a thing or two about photography. I spent a lot of time studying their pictures.

I devoted myself to my camera. It went with me in my purse, backpack, pocket or car. It popped out into my hands at a moment's notice. The kids got to the point where they were suggesting subjects in the grocery store or along the side of the road. I have leapt from the car into traffic, have climbed trees, tables and chairs, have scooched down under bushes, behind walls and in between rock crevices and I've boldly taken photos of perfect strangers! I got much more interested in angles, shapes, shadows, above and below points of view as well as the much touted "bokeh." :)

Everyone says that using a camera with that much regularity will change how you see. And naturally I expected to "see differently" by the end of a year. But I don't think I really grasped what that would mean when I began. For instance, today I'm absolutely fascinated with reflections. I can sit by myself looking at windows, the sides of cars, puddles, shiny table tops, rearview mirrors, stainless steel coffee makers, brass door knobs, tire rims, sunglasses, and on and on... totally entertained, without doing anything else. I enjoy the way colors change and shapes shift. I found myself staring at Jon's glasses and not his eyes just yesterday, enjoying the way the Christmas lights danced on the lenses.

In a philosophical way, it's utterly cool how reflection changes my perception of things I take for granted. I love that. Plus, I'm hooked on the shiny.

I didn't expect photo-taking to change how I see my family. But it has. I'm much more aware of the delightful facial expressions, the stuff they do that is important and insignificant that really captures their personalities and my memories of them. I wish I had known this earlier in their lives! My favorite photo of Caitrin, for instance, is one where she is eating at Chipotle (a scene I'd never have thought to shoot before).

I also got hooked on macro shots. I think seeing things right up close in a way you don't when you are living with them makes me appreciate ordinary objects more. Even something as simple as the silver ring at the end of a notebook or the way my blind looked from the side view all rolled up - these were delightful surprises this year. I was thrilled that I could see!

This year was also filled with Big Events in our lives. Johannah's theater, prom, graduation, and departure to college, my education and graduation, Noah's first year of college, Jacob's marching band, his broken arm, Caitrin sewing, Liam's lacrosse. I've been to California, South Carolina and Chicago.

It's great to have records of all these that are more than posed shots of people standing together! That's what's changed. I take more photos that give a feel of an experience, not just snapshots of people I want to remember. Still, it's been a demanding year in terms of pictures.

I'm glad that the daily-ness of it is coming to a close. I've been obsessed for most of the year and my energy level for uploading, editing and selecting photos has suddenly come to a halt! I have other things to do on the computer and that extra effort to get the photos off the camera, onto the computer, edited and posted feels like work now.

But I always love having the photos so it's rewarding. In fact, just creating this post and finding the photos to include has reminded me of the really amazing spectrum of experiences, color and moments that I'm glad I have on record!

It seems fitting that at the end of a post about a year's worth of photos, that I'd link to my favorite one. Ironically, I don't have to. My banner for winter is my favorite photo of my 365 experience. But since it is cropped in the header, let me post it in full here.

P.S. If you participated in Project 365 and would care to share what you've gotten from it, I'd love to hear it in the comments or with a link to your blog where you post your thoughts.


Drew said...

Thanks for posting the whole winter banner photo. You can appreciate the depth of field in it when you see the whole exposure!

I need to take a camera with me as well. But the one we have goes where the kids go so I stopped paying attention to the details. I should get a good point and shoot (those Canon power shots are fantastic) and take it with me. The difference between looking at life through a lens is like a drop of water versus the stream that we usually see. It's nice to capture the still moments that make life such a blur sometimes!

Drew said...

PS... Kudos on getting to 365+!

jo(e) said...

I can't believe it's been a whole year already.

I've loved getting glimpses of your life through your photos.

Nicole Rae Studio said...

I've loved seeing your year too. Your end of the year photo is spectacular. You are in my reader so I hadn't seen the banner. What a great shot.

I'm planning on posting my own year in review next week. It's hard to believe it has gone this quickly. What a fantastic experience.

Scrivener said...

I'm feeling really sad that this year of 365 photos is coming to an end. I'll miss the daily viewing and commenting on your photos. I'm planning to do it again, but the self-portrait version, in 2008. I don't know if I'll be able to manage it though. I will write a post sometime before the end of they year, I hope, on what I've gotten out of the experience.

Congratulations on making it through the entire year!

Cloudscome said...

I enjoyed reading this review too. It really is amazing how much this experience has changed us, isn't it? I am planning to keep going to push myself a little farther. Happy New Year!