365(366)

Sometimes late is better than never.

I’m here with the final recap of my 365 photo project… which finished, oh you know, a month ago.

Life has been in the way. I wanted to get this recap written and on the blog, but I was not motivated. In the past month I’ve done things like buy a house, move in, begin painting and all sorts of other little things related to home ownership. I’ve worked on finishing up a major component of my graduate program and moving on to the next piece of that (never ending it feels right now) process. So I have many excuses. But perhaps the biggest one has been a lack of wanting to sit, reflect, and write. Those three critical pieces of blog writing have eluded me of late.

But enough on that for now! On to the recap.

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I loved this project.

Not everyday mind you, but when I go through the photos and reflect on the past year of my life… it is amazing to have a photo for everyday of it. Well several photos really, since I always took more than one photo a day. Yes some days trying to take an interesting photo, or remember to take a photo was just a little bit tedious, but in the end I am so glad I have the visuals to go with all my memories, or to even spark memories I’d forgotten. So much happened for me this year, and I had a lot of fun (a few tears, a couple trials…) and to have it marked by a photo project is just icing on the cake. When I started this project, I wrote about how I thought 28 would be a good year, and it really was (self-fulfilling prophecy perhaps?) . I’d done a lot of inner work in the past few yeas, and I feel like in 28 some of it paid off (though to be honest I don`t think the inner work piece of living and growing and changing with time ever goes away).

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In terms of having a year long project, this one was pretty easy. With smartphones we can easily take so many pictures. With apps like Instagram we can make those photos look pretty stellar without purchasing expensive photo editing software. In the past few years I really avoided goals, but this was a nice, easy and different, way for me to start having goals in my life again. In the past my goals would focus so much on health and wellness, (interpreted as healthy eating and exercise) that I’d burnt myself out. That was a familiar way for me to goal set, and a familiar part of life for me to focus on. Returning to my roots (so to speak) has offered me new terrain to consider. Art, writing, non-food and non-fitness related activities are something that used to be so important to me, but took a back burner after high school and the focus on being thin, and “healthy” took over. It has been nice to reconnect to that. But it has also been a reminder that I have been connected to that all along; I began painting during my time on the North Island. I have been writing (journals) since high school. I have never really stopped, but I am focusing on those things again, as an essential part of my being.

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Now that the project is over, I’ve been waffling on what comes next. Earlier in this post I mentioned why I have not written in some time; life is busy. What most amazes me, reflecting back, is how much this project acted as a little anchor in my day, pulling me to reflect on what was happening around me, what had happened, and what I wanted the world see (and I mean this in two ways: out of everything in my day, what was the photo-memory worth highlighting? And as social media was the medium, what did I feel comfortable having just any random person see?). So what’s next? Well I have high hopes to use these photos for something – most likely to make some wall collages in my house. People have also voiced interest in a calendar – not something I can see myself having ready for 2017, but maybe 2018.

I wanted to highlight that while this project was amazing, and I loved it despite the days of crap-what-shall-I-photograph, I did have one negative outcome. This project highlighted, and I would say heightened my mindless use of social media. Now I love social media, I have a blog, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest… but this year I found myself mindlessly on those apps a lot. And I don’t like it; to feel a small emotional twitch while not really doing anything and to immediately go on my phone, despite having been on it just moments ago is not how I want to respond to life. The feeling of mindlessly consuming media is something I do that has been irking me for sometime. So how i want to handle this moving forward is something I really want to look at, and (hopefully) change. Many people talk about unplugging; either getting away from screens for certain times daily, or weekly or taking long extended breaks. This appeals to me. But so does making sure my use of social media has meaning and purpose (like writing this blog – useful for me, perhaps interesting or useful for others).

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How do I end this post? Honestly, in the end this is project is just a series of photos, over the course of a year. I can now say for certain that nature is my muse, and I love landscape photography. This is also what I love to paint, so it follows me through all my art forms. I have really enjoyed photography as an art medium, and while this year was more of a “quantity over quality” kind of year, as the year progressed I thought more about making sure my pictures were more focused and better quality then I did earlier on in the project (I took a lot of crooked photos early on…).

So, here it is, a month late, and well into my 29th year, but the final recap of a year in photos (366, this was a leap year after all). You can find the other quarterly recaps here, here, and here. If you follow me on Instagram I hope you enjoyed what you saw. I hope if you are doing a similar project you will let me know. And may this year be just as good as last year.

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273.75 (and a little bit more)

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Well here it is, the final quarter of my 365 photo project. I’ve recapped the first two quarters, and now I’ll recap and reflect on the third as I move ever closer to the end (and my 29th birthday).

I am not going to lie: taking a photo a day is getting a bit old now. While it mostly feels like a habit (what will I do when I no longer need to consider what to photograph in my day?!), it is also a tedious habit.

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Don’t get me wrong, I love that I am noticing and paying attention to what is going on in my day. I love finding bits of beauty in the every day, but there is still the occasional evening where it’s 10pm and I’m like crap what am I going to post!? This is often solved by going back to older photos from previous days. So does this make it not count? I made the decision early on that I could use photos from other days, and while I try to not do it very often I’m glad that was a “loophole” I agreed to. Mostly because some days I can’t find the beauty, but I can look back at photos I took even the day before and suddenly like a photo I passed by while going “meh”. This is the amazing thing about reflecting: sometimes we can find beauty where we didn’t see any the day before.

So many of my photos reflect nature, either beautiful views, flowers or just general outdoor scenes. I’ve also realized how much adventure there is in my life. I think I shared when I started this project that I always had a feeling that 28 would be awesome and that I always looked forward to entering the later stages of my twenties, and this year has not disappointed. I can’t say it has necessarily been more adventuresome than other years in my life, but I’ve certainly enjoyed all the adventures a lot, and finding and reflecting on the beautiful parts has left me with more of the happy-moment memories than the sad/bad/that-didn’t-workout-as-planned-moment memories.

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I’ll be honest I worried a lot that friends would be annoyed by the traffic jam of my photos filling up their Facebook feeds, but for the most part people have been really supportive. Friends who don’t comment directly on the photos will often say in person how much they enjoy my photos, which I really appreciate. I don’t know if this is everyone’s default but I often assume that people have mean and judgemental thoughts towards others and their creative projects so I’m always happy when people are  supportive and say nice things. I know writing that out loud sounds terrible, and I honestly don’t know where it comes from because no one has ever actually fulfilled that dark prophecy of human behaviour.

Looking forward (I am now on day 295) I can honestly say I’m very excited for this project to be done. Yet I’m sure it will feel like something is missing once I’m finished. I’ll also be honest and say I feel like I’ve spent far too much time on Instagram and Facebook with this project and I’m sure whatever goal or project I think of following this one will not involve social media in any way, in fact maybe the goal will be to truly start consuming less and spend more time on what really matters (or other things I actually enjoy that don’t involve a screen). At the same time doing this through social media provided a means and frame (ie I must choose one and filter it through Instagram) and has kept me accountable. I’m excited to see what unfolds over the last 70 or so days of my project and my time as a 28-year-old.

182.5

Tonight I sat down and read the post I wrote three months ago, where I discussed what it was like to be one quarter of the way through my 365 Day Photo Challenge. At that point the challenge was going well, I was still exploring, still taking lots and lots of photos and really enjoying the effort it took daily to find pictures and post them.

So how is it going now that I am half way through this project?

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I’ve surprised myself by keeping to the project very well. This is an accomplishment for me because in the past few years I’ve had a bad case of the start-with-no-finishing habit when it comes to projects and goals. I think I’ve had maybe one day where I forgot to post – and even that was a case of having it all set to go then getting distracted and forgetting to hit “upload”. Overall though I haven’t felt as focused on this. I do not set out to find pictures daily in quite the same way I did before. My daily lunch time walks have waned in recent weeks (being instead replaced by a slight thrift store shopping addiction I’m trying to clamp down on) so i haven’t collected photos in that way. But my weekend adventuring has increased, particularly as training for the West Coast Trail has increased. This has resulted in nearly every weekend providing me with fresh scenes, new trails, trees, skies and seas to photograph. I cannot believe how much I love this place i call home.

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I think many photographers and artists like to use similar subjects or mediums, and mine would be nature (ok and Marina but can you blame me? She is just the cutest thing!). After 182.5 (ok 183, and actually at this point I’m nearing 200) photos however I am feeling a little on the repetitive side. While this is normal, and I think even reflects how repetitive every day life can be, doing the project through social media does make me want to change it up more, find more challenging subjects to photograph or even focus my daily photos on something specific.

I’ve also noticed myself using excuses such as “flash back Friday” or “throw back Thursday” more often to showcase photos from my weekend adventures. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I do sometimes feel like a cop-out when I resort to this rather than challenging myself to take a photo representing a highlight (or simply a normal boring piece) of my day. Yet, when I consider the greater circumstances going on in my life right now, I have to say things are wildly more busy in the past couple months than they ever were in the first quarter bit of my project. Now this is good, because for the last few years I felt seriously under stimulated, but it also means my focus has been off on a lot of things (hello delayed literature review for my graduate program!). So the lack in daily photo focus could simply be a window of time into what is going on now in my life.

Reflecting on this half way point, I think I can say that I’d like to recommit myself to the second half of this journey. To remember daily photos, to be mindful of what is happening in my day and post accordingly. And not be shy about it… so what if someone thinks selfies are silly or that my life might not be one high crazy adventure after another? Or that it’s too adventurous or whatever criticism someone might have. Everything is a risk in the realm of the creative – especially when we do it on the web so openly. Especially when those creative endeavours are us putting our ideas, our lives, our lived experiences and our truth out there. And I for one always feel better when I accept the challenge of being more vulnerable and honest about who I am than when I hide and go with the safe choice.

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PS I post original photos on the post that then became project photos. Mostly because while I’m a week bit tech savvy I cannot figure out instagram > my blog transfer… oh well, one day!