Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Photo A Day 365

This year, 2014  is the third time I have done 365. I had a break last year, 2013, but did 2011 and 2012, and I have to say that this is probably the last time I'll do one of these! It's become a little addictive, almost, in a way, stressful. Don't get me wrong,  I have, overall, found it a very rewarding, and I would encourage anyone who has thought about doing it, to give it a go. Many people will ask, and indeed, have asked, why?! What do you take, just anything? What are you going to do with them all? What do you get out of it?

Well, for starters, it's an exercise in self - discipline. It would be so easy, when the going gets difficult, to just not bother. It's a good way to learn how to look around you, to see everything from sweeping landscapes to the most mundane objects and capture them in different ways. You can end up with something both very personal and accessible to others.
A project like this hones your technical skills too. Constant handling of cameras means the equipment is that much more familiar to you. Photo editing skills improve. And, not least, it forces you to face the issue of safely storing a huge amount of data! 

For me, it all started back, in 2010, when a few of my colleagues at work and I, tried just a month's worth of daily images. Though it has to be said, and I don't remember why now, but I missed the very first day! After that though, I never missed a day, always taking the shot, even if I couldn't post it up to Flickr. I found I quite enjoyed it, and I did 5 MONTHS in the end, a month on and a month off from April onwards, then straight into 2011 and 2012.

From the start, I decided not to go with any particular theme in mind. There would be the occasional series of related images like the "Things on my shelves" in 2011, or "Doorways" this year. As it happens, 2011 was an eventful and quite emotional year for me. I moved away from my secluded hilltop dwelling which I had inhabited for nearly 25 years, and The Lovely came into my life. Looking back, I think this project was a great help in keeping me stable, quite therapeutic. It is a superb record of a key year in my life, but at the time, all I was doing was "getting my shot of the day". It was only afterwards, when I looked back at the whole sequence that I could see it's real worth. And I think that has happened every year - I struggle to get through it at times, but at the end, I'm rather pleased with it all.

Technically, I wasn't always that worried about hitting a high standard of image quality in every shot. It seemed to me that an image was an image and that I got what I got. I used my DSLR, compact cameras, and even my phone. A few years ago, the cameras on most phones didn't produce the best of images, but I got to quite like the lo-fi approach, depending on the subject. I think sometimes we get a bit hung up on pure image quality and too often throw out an image by judging the quality over the content. Though, as I have already mentioned, your technical skills improve immensely over these years, so you end up with more and more technically good images.

But, what about the "What do you do with them all?" question?  Although it's all out there in Cyberland,  I must say that it feels like I'm not making the most of such a huge body of work. I am drawn towards producing photobooks. The cost will be quite high, but I think it's the only thing to do. I really feel that I should bring those digital, virtual images back into the real, analogue world. I work with photo archives, many of which are in the form of photo albums, some dating back to the very earliest days of photography. There is still something wonderful about the physicality of a photo album, or prints in general really. Producing and mounting 365 prints in an old fashioned album is pretty impractical, whereas, the photobook offers a little more flexibility in layout etc.

So what will I do this year, without this project? Well, find something different is the answer! I'm sure I will continue to take photos on most days. I may return to some kind of video project. In 2012, as well as doing the 365 photo, I also did a 3 SECONDS A DAY video challenge... But that's a whole different story.....

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