91.25

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Ok, we can round down to 91. 91 days of photos I have taken and shared with the world. I am officially over one quarter of the way through a year long photo project I started shortly after my twenty-eighth birthday. It was a bit of a spontaneous decision to start it, but something I’d been thinking about doing for some time. I’d seen several bloggers and friends do similar projects, and always thought it might be fun to try.

In the months proceeding my birthday I went through some big changes; starting a graduate school program and moving to a new town. Yup big stuff.

And I’m not sure why, but I’d always looked forward to being twenty-eight; call it wishful thinking, call it being hopeful but I just always had the number twenty-eight as a good age. So when I hit that particular birthday I thought maybe I should see if twenty-eight is as awesome as I’d assumed it would be. So far? Pretty darn good.

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While it wasn’t my intention this project also fits well into aspects of my school program. The program I am in is the St. Francis Xavier Master of Adult Education. At first this might seem like an odd fit for a dietitian, but if you think about it, I spend my day educating adults about food, health and nutrition, so it actually makes sense to have a better understanding of how adults actually learn.

A very prominent part of some of many adult learning theories is critical reflection; when you go through an event or experience you reflect on it to learn and come to new understandings or perhaps reinforce things you already knew. If you don’t reflect on the events, your learnings or your beliefs, you don’t really learn, grow or change. Many of us do some reflecting (I believe) unconsciously, but actually taking time after critical events, major learning evens, your beliefs, thoughts and feelings can be a huge way to grow.

Another theory around adult education is that adults learn much better by doing then by simply learning by rote or being lectured to about a topic. The St. FX program practices what it preaches; so much of program are hands on assignments and not lecture based courses (also? Completely self-directed! LOVE IT!!!). So it is that we have a large critical reflection assignment near the end of the program. And they encourage these to take on a more creative aspect if we wish. It can be a large written assignment, or something else with a brief explanation.

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So will my assignment be a photo project? I don’t know yet, but I can see how this project is making me reflect on each day; on what was a highlight, what was worth creating a memory of on social media. Despite only being 25% of the way through, I can see a shift as I try to have more photographs of nature, and challenge myself to stop on the highway on my daily commute, or take a photograph that makes me feel self-conscious in it’s importance to me.

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I like that I’m more inclined now to get outside and take a walk during my lunch hours to find new scenery and places for photos. I’ve also had to do things I’ve always wanted to do, but feel self-conscious doing, like pulling over on the highway and taking pictures during my commute. Another aspect I’ve reflected on is the fact that I am doing this in the social media world. Does knowing people will see the photos affect what I post? The thought of “will someone like this” definitely passes through my mind, but I try to mostly focus on what I want to take photos of and not what the reaction will be, or how many likes it will get (though I’d be lying if I said those thoughts never cross my mind). I’ve also tried to challenge myself to have fun and experiment with photography a little bit. Most of my photos are taken with my phone, but I do take a few with my DSLR (uploaded to instagram via dropbox). While I feel mostly positive about this experience, there are days when I go oh sh*t what am I going to take a photo of today?!

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Lastly this project has helped me find the little things that make me happy, and has even turned into what you might call a gratitude practice. After all, if I can find one bright spot (even if it’s just my fur baby Marina) on those days where it’s hard to feel any kind of gratitude, it helps remind me that I have a pretty darn good life for the most part.

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I’m curious to see how it progresses and changes as time goes on. I think that it will be very interesting to look back on a year and see all the photos (much like I find it interesting to revisit some of my personal journal entries from time to time).

Have you ever done a photography challenge? Did it make you stop and think or help you get out of your box around what you take photos of?

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