365 x 2

Brushed-Metal

 

On January 5th, I will complete my second 365 Project – a commitment to take one photograph a day for a year, two years running.

I did not reach perfection in my attempt. There were missed days throughout these 23 months – days when life intervened, when inspiration deserted me, when the camera was no longer my friend. It is hard for me to admit “failure”, being the perfectionist that I am. Especially in a public forum.

But, for me, it was always the intention that mattered – the internal commitment that photography was a critical, and yes, necessary, part of my creative life. And so, I will be gentle with myself. When a day is missed, the important thing is picking up the camera on the day that follows. And I have learned that I really can survive achieving less than 100%.

I have gained so much from this undertaking. Daily practice has been integral to my growth, both technically and creatively. It has challenged me to keep searching, to find new subjects and to see old subjects in new ways. My photographic series were born from within this project. Even on the days when shooting was a chore, a drudgery – especially on those difficult days – the work was always worthwhile. Sometimes surprising. And amazing. And magical.

Like the image above. Taken in the lobby of the movie theatre, of a shiny, brushed metal column. Taken because I had my camera with me. Because I was searching for an opportunity to shoot my daily image;  to fulfill my project commitment. Without that, I may have walked by that column without a second glance. And missed the opportunity to create a piece of gleaming wonder.

As the new year approaches, I am considering my creative goals for 2012. The key question: should I begin another 365 Project? On the one hand, I know I respond well to assignments, to meeting internal expectations, to self-motivation. Dedicating myself to this goal keeps photography at the forefront of my consciousness.

But at the same time, I never want to resent photography. I never want to feel like it is a “should” in my life. I want it to come from a place of curiosity and joy and wonder – not a place of “I-must-because-I-made-this-commitment”. When is a goal a challenge toward growth and when does it become a yoke, binding us to duty or obligation?

You see, I’m afraid that if I don’t have this goal, this daily structure, to guide me, I may let photography slip to the sidelines of my life. That I will let it fade in importance. That I will grow lazy about my craft.

So, I imagine I will kick off 2012 with my third 365 Project. With a commitment to every day creativity. To embed photography ever more deeply into my daily lifestyle and routine until it becomes synonomous with who I am. And who I want to become.

Until every year is a 365 Project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on December 2, 2011, in Photography and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. I’ve been doing this now for 4 1/2 years. Barely a day goes by without my capturing something in it. All I can offer is encouragement to keep at it…that the prize is in the process!!!

    And – what a wonderful abstract image. Amazing what we find..when we look and see!!!

  2. Gorgeous image, Brenda! I agree that having a daily practice is important, giving us the structure we need to make something part of our lives. I may try this 365 project in 2012 –I am ready to do more photography.

  3. Daily practice for me has been key. Being gentle with myself has been necessary…life happens. The desire and goal is often what keeps me focused even when life spins down an unexpected path for a time period. You have caused me to pause and realize that it is time, once again, to examine where I am at now and where I want to be a year from now.

  4. Well, Brenda, you’ve done it again. Every time I go to your blog, my mouth drops open and all I can say is “WOW!” Today’s stunning image is no exception.
    And…you are inspiring me to consider a 365 project for myself. I’m a little scared of the commitment, but I’m sure it would be good for me both photographically and personally. I have a feeling that 2012 will be an interesting year, though perhaps not an easy one. I shall continue thinking about it!

    • Lee,
      I can’t think of a greater gift to me as a blogger than to know that I may have inspired another photographer in such a way. I encourage you to consider taking this on – with the caveat that you will be gentle with yourself, as I have had to be, when and if a day comes where no photo is forthcoming. Again, I think the whole point is to make the commitment because good things will come regardless of whether your hit 100% or 10%. I try not to think of it as a success/failure proposition but more as an intention – a way to say to myself “this is important to me”.

  5. Your photos are helping me find new subjects to photograph. I was especially inspired by your windows series.

    Congratulations on 2 years of daily photos (even if a few days were missed).

    I have found that being committed to posting on my blog keeps me focused and growing in my photography. I used to post every day. I now post every other day. The reason for the change is that I am not spending more time in post-processing.

    Thank you.

  6. Lovely image and post Brenda. It is great to hear you admit that you were not perfect, yet you kept going. I’ve seen so many people start and then stop when they miss. You allow others to do the same, to pick back up and keep going. I think you should be even more proud of that, than being perfect.

  7. I think that it’s always good to have a project. My interest in photography started with a ‘365 reasons to be grateful’ project which I did *most* days. I stopped that when I started my blog which gives me plenty of motivation to take photos at least once a week, usually more.
    I think if you’ve found a pattern that works for you- stick with it. And it’s good to have some flexibility in that too- if you miss a day or two there’s no pressure.

  8. “When a day is missed, the important thing is picking up the camera on the day that follows. And I have learned that I really can survive achieving less than 100%.”
    You are now officially my artistic mentor. I give myself SUCH a hard time if I miss a day of writing. I love what you write about jumping back into the next day and moving forward, even when — in my perfectionist mind — that “less than 100%” feels like 0%.
    What you’ve written here about goals and obligations resonates so well with me too. I’ve been so focused on trying to get published, with all of those frustrations, that sometimes I forgot (often, I forget) that I write because it’s who I am. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Lisa,
      Oh, this has been a VERY hard lesson for me, as one perfectionist to another, to learn. And I still struggle with defining failure as anything that is not 100%. Instead of celebrating the overwhelming majority of days when I did meet my goal, why do I concentrate on the handful when I didn’t? But I am learning, even though it seems as if the lesson must be re-learned each day. But that’s okay. Each day is day one.

  9. Hi Brenda, your images never cease to amaze me. This is stunning, and something that most people pass by and never notice. I don’t think you will ever resent photography because there is no scarcity of wonder in this world.

    I did a 365 day project in 2007 and am planning to do it again in 2012.

  10. Oh Brenda, another beautiful post. We perfectionists are so hard on ourselves, aren’t we? I too have learned similar lessons in regards to my creative practice this past year. It’s a relief to reframe perspective from the negative and allow ourselves to feel pleased about all the hard work already accomplished. And man alive, woman have you ever done so much in so little time!

    I started a 365 project a year and a half ago, stopped after 3 months. That said, I still do take pics several times a week. However, you’ve inspired me to try another daily photo challenge – seems like January is the time to start again.

    So glad you’re sharing your gifts with us.

  11. Hey Brenda-
    I did a one year 365 August 2010-August 2011-never missing a day with the exception of July 5 when I accidently deleted my images on the morning of the 6th before downloading. I found the daily practice wonderful and since I stopped have been tryihg to dream up a different kind of challenge….
    I too worried about photography slipping, but it hasn’t. I don’t shoot everyday, but I’m still getting out there nearly every other day, sometimes more. I still take my camera with me almost always and I enjoy giving myself permission to skip when the mood is forced rather than a “want to”. I imagine you’d find you did the same. When I was finished I was really ready for a little down time….maybe you are too. Nothing says you have to start on Jan 1-you could start anytime.
    Lately I’ve been playing with black and whites and wonder if a B & W 365 might be next, I also thought about doing new “themes” every month, or doing a 7/52 where I still have 365 images, but don’t have to shoot everyday or can choose several “winners” from an inpsired day and leave the monotonous blah images out of the 365 honor role. Another idea was to have a mixed bag…. 1 B & W. 1 textured, 1 people shot, 1 abstract etc.per week, so that each week had a variety.
    So….there are my thoughts on your 365 and you didn’t even ask me. Sorry. I know whatever you do it will be wonderful. The other day Lee and I went out shooting together and I took (and announced to Lee I was doing so) a few “Brenda” shots. You’ve made both Lee and I look at things a new way.
    Have a great day, and if you’re interested in a 365 partner, I might be able to be convinced.

I greatly appreciate your comments!

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