Saturday, January 2, 2010

365: Everything you need to know

So, it's the new year, and you're full of ambition, and excitement. The world is your oyster. There is nothing that you can't do.

"I think," you say to yourself, "that I'm going to take a picture, every day, for the entire year."

What's wrong with you!?

I'm kidding, I'm sure you were just born that way.

Ha ha, really, I'm just kidding. I applaud you for taking on this challenge, it's going to be a very rewarding experience. But, there are some things you need to know...

First and foremost you should understand, this is going to take a YEAR! You know how it seems like the older you get, the faster the years go by? Well, that's absolutely true in all aspects of your life...except this one. Actually, though the year can really drag, the days and hours will fly by -- you will take more than one picture at 11:59 pm. You may even resort to some wishful thinking/time zone manipulation ("it's still Friday in Hawaii"). By February (or maybe the second week of January) you're going to feel overwhelmed, but stay true. You CAN do this.




Second: You will not take 365 award winning pictures. You will not take sixty-five award winning pictures. You will take a LOT of mundane shots. You will take a fair amount of GOOD shots. You will take a respectable number of extraordinary shots. And you will take a handful of take-your-breath-away-blow-the-doors-off-stand-in-wide-eyed-amazement-this-is-why-I-started-taking-pictures-in-the-first-place-my-neighbor-WISHES-she-could-take-pictures-like-this shots. That's the pay off -- part of it anyway.

Tips

1. Take your camera with you. EVERYWHERE. Never put your camera away. Leave it by the door, or your car keys. I hang mine on the stair railing, by the front door.




If you ever forget your camera -- snap something with your cell phone camera. You can just lump that picture in the "mundane" category.

2. Take pictures. Duh.




But seriously folks, take pictures. There are going to be days -- many days-- when you feel uninspired. Don't wait for your muse -- she has a notoriously bad sense of direction, and is frequently lost. Something magical happens when you place your eye up to the view finder -- the more you try to create, the greater your capacity TO create will grow. I truly believe that. Shoot something. In fact...

3. Shoot 'em all!




Shoot ANYTHING that catches your eye: lines, shapes, smiles, tears, clouds, weeds, messes, cars, hands, fences, shadows, cookies, household appliances...well, you get the idea. You may find something better later on. Actually, I can't count the number of times in the last year that I worked, painstakingly, for a shot -- shooting several dozen pictures to get the right image -- only to stumble, serendipitously, upon something better later on that day. Taking A picture relieves the pressure of that day's obligation, and opens up your senses to find and take THE picture.

4. Most importantly, if you miss a day, do NOT stop. Last year, I shot faithfully everyday until mid-April. Then one Friday I forgot.

I just forgot.




I was watching a marathon of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives, on the Food Network, fell asleep on the couch, and woke up a failure. I did it again in August. I blame Guy Fieri.

Don't think of this as a project to take one picture per day for 365 days, think of it as a year long project to document your life in pictures. If you miss a day, pick up and start again. The great pay-off in the end is not the sense of accomplishment at surviving, but the amazing documentation of your life's journey over the previous 365 days.

5. Share your pictures on a regular basis (I recommend weekly) -- it's easier to stay committed once you know people are planning on dropping by to see your pictures.




6. Know that I am here for you! If you feel like dropping by, and berating me for talking you into this project, that's okay -- as long as you keep taking pictures. And not just me -- others will find your pictures, and you will meet new and wonderful people.




Good Luck!



Maybe it would have been more helpful to post this on December 31...

17 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

I'm almost convinced! :)

Mom24 said...

Thanks. I think I'm going to give it a try.

Robyn said...

You make a good case....Maybe 362.

Avtcoach said...

Hey Chris, This was a great "advice column" for how to survive the project. I smiled through it thinking that no matter the project this advice works. Whether its training for a marathon, blogging or writing I think the advice works. Stick to it even when its tough, don't worry about perfection, if you fall get back up and at the end of it you will have learned more about yourself and have a really great story to tell! I'm impressed you did it! I took some long breaks in 2009 from blogging but I am going to be more regular in 2010. I find I have missed the commitment for all of the same reasons you gave in your advice post. Happy New Year and I look forward to visiting more!

kris... said...

But doesn't it count if I promise to take at least one DECENT picture a week rather than one random picture a day? I think I can do a decent one a week... maybe...

Corey~living and loving said...

This post rocks the partay!!!! do I say that alot? I'm so old....and not cool.
Great post though. wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing it.

Kelli @ Gohn Crazy said...

I've been thinking about it for the reason that you were able to look back over your year and have a better sense of it. I'm in no way great at taking pictures, but we'll see. I'm making sure to take one every day until I figure out if I'm really taking this on or not. I think the biggest reason is how few pictures I've been taking... well for nearly my son's life so far. I need to stop missing things.

imbeingheldhostage said...

yes, you should've said something earlier, you could've stopped me...

You did come up with some fabulous shots and I know some of those sprang from desperation, you're an inspiration in many ways (this is what I say now, come April I may be using your name in not so flowery sentences) ;-)

kaye said...

let's see . . . my track record on resolutions is about two weeks. But I have blogged nearly every day for a year. I love keeping histories and making scrapbooks. I'm not sure how this will turn out--but I'm giving it a try. Thanks for the encouragement

Terri said...

Great advice from my favorite quotidian photographer. I'm on board for 2010. And part of my intent is to write more too, so doing some mini-stories about the photos will be a good habit for me to cultivate.

Think I'll post mine on Sunday evenings each week. I'm excited about it. Now.

Alex said...

I've started mine! Check it out: http://alex365project.blogspot.com

TuTu's Bliss said...

I'm not going to let you suck me in. I'm going into photography rehab. Hold on while I take a picture of me officially in Photography rehab...OOPS!! Oh well, I tried. :)

Heidi said...

I will be that one person that will take over 1000 pictures over the next year and come up with nothing extraordinary. But that's ok, because I'm starting this project with failure in mind. Just Kidding! I hope I come out in the end with at least one great shot and a reminder of what happened through the year.
And I am so glad that someone else carries their camera with them WHEREVER they go. I even had mine at church yesterday. Yes I have a problem.
Thanks for the invitation to join, I think I'm excited.

Emily said...

You totally crack me up...but I still don't believe that you've ever taken a bad picture...I think you're just trying to be modest. :)

Michelle said...

I couldn't have said it any better (really I couldn't have).

Robyn said...

Oh this is GREAT! I'm so glad I stumbled upon this blog : ) I've just started this year doing this project, and when I stop and think of what I've signed up for... I get a little anxious and think, "Oh no... What am I doing?!!".

But I do think it'll be rewarding, and so fun to look back and see a glimpse of what I was doing on each day.

Thanks for this blog again. It just renewed my enthusiasm! : )

MomOf4 said...

This is so neat! Can I join late?