Sometimes the most marvelous journeys are the ones that take you to places you didn't expect to go.
364 days ago, I began a project that I thought would take me in a certain direction. I started a 365 day photo project -- one picture each day (at least) for the entire year. I imagined my photos getting better and better. I thought I would learn to look at life differently. I thought I would gain new perspectives.
I thought that, by the end of the year, I would have tapped into some cosmic vibe, and I would be taking pictures so stunning that the world would be beating a path to my door step (okay, I didn't REALLY think that...)
I missed two days, though the record will show that I missed three (I lost the pictures I took the Thursday after Thanksgiving), and mostly the pictures I took are of the mundane variety, but the real treat - the payoff -- is to look back now, at the year that was -- 2009, which was so brutal in some ways -- and realize, like George Bailey, that I have a wonderful life.
And it all began with a stack of pancakes, on January 1, 2009.
Pancakes are a staple at our house on Saturday mornings, and I make the best pancakes (from scratch) in the world. Trust me.
Day 23: The day I almost stopped. This is a picture of my shirt -- the blackest thing I could find.
This was the day that changed our year, our family and our lives.
This was the day that my wife's doctor said "Cancer."
Day 77: Coping. In a year of upheaval, I found solace and comfort on the basketball court, with my son. We didn't keep score, we just shot hoops, and talked. Turns out I really like that kid.
Day 100: Weeds. At the beginning of this kind of project you think your mind is really going to expand, and that you're going to find inspiration everywhere you look.
That ain't necessarily so.
About day 100, you start looking at the weeds in the cracks of the sidewalks, and the dandelions in the grass. 2009 is, by far, my greatest year for weed documentation.
Day 129: Disneyland. After the hellacious start to the year, by the time May rolled around, with the cancer surgery and recovery (mostly) behind us, we felt that we deserved a vacation. And we took one -- our first full blown, we're the grown ups here, paid for it ourselves and took the kids along for several days vacation.
It was a SMASHING success!
Day 171: I just love this shot -- it encapsulates the relationship between Emma and Matt perfectly: she, going anywhere he'll let her go, and he, putting his arm around her (so to speak), and taking her -- no complaints.
Day 211: Yeah, it was THAT kind of year.
Incidentally, I do have another daughter, and I did take plenty of pictures of her this year too...
Day 231: My wife's birthday. The only thing more beautiful than this surreal scene, was having Sharon there to see it with me.
Five months earlier, I didn't know if we would see this day.
Day 263: I caught a lightning strike, how could I NOT include that shot?
Day 291: Andrew and Michelle. This is my brother-in-law, and his, at the time, almost-officially-engaged-to girlfriend. At this point, I knew that I would soon be out of a job, and thought I had better get serious about this photography thing.
I love shooting couples -- especially couples who REALLY like each other.
Day 307: The day I had been waiting for/dreading for nearly ten years -- the day I was laid off/released from a job I hated. Just in time for the holidays. Just in time for the job market to hit it's lowest point. I gave this company ten years of faithful service (my need to support my family suppressed my dignity), and in the end, they decided I made too much money, and they'd try to make it with their minimum wage employees. I wish them luck, and I wash my hands of them.
Desperation is sometimes a blessing, and because of what happened above, my life heads down a new path:
Day 347: The wedding.
The first wedding I had shot in a couple of years, capped a month of photography-for-hire jobs. I know I'm supposed to do this now. It may not be something I can do full time at this point, but I know that what I have to offer this world, is in my head, and my eye, and my pen.
Which brings us to the end of this journey, which brought me, somewhat unexpectedly, back to where it all began:
Day 365: Pancakes.
And as I sit here, thinking of all the times I cursed myself over the last year for taking on this project, of how I longed for the end to come, of how I looked forward to the time that I could set my camera down for a day or two, without feeling guilty (or panicked), I find myself smiling. You see, tomorrow is January first...
And I'm going to do it again.
Happy New Year!