A year is 365 days

You’d be surprised at how little time that is.

That’s it. I finished my 365. I should explain that I cheated with my last day because I didn’t have enough time to take a picture on 31/12/2013, we had a barbecue thing going on and I was stressed enough as it is, I didn’t want to end my 365 with a hastily snapped photo of the fire light or chicks. I wanted to sit down, doodle out a concept, and put it in motion, and spend 1 hour+ trying to get a right picture and spend time on photoshop putting it together. I wanted to put effort and feel good about what I spend hours doing. Exactly a year ago, I started the project on New Years Eve, technically New Years Day because the clock striked 12, thinking I could handle a small commitment – a photo a day, how hard can that be? – hah-HAH-HAH. Yesterday, the 31st of December, marks the 365th photo of my daily photo year project. If you didn’t think I was going to make a blogpost trying to justify the whole project you’re wrong, this is obligatory.

The first few days were tough, I struggled with ideas to come up with for photos but they all fell flat and some slightly awkward. Looking back at them I feel like they were beginner photos of someone who just picked up a camera and wanted to go all the way with concepts but hadn’t a clue what they were doing. After the first week I had a grasp of what I was doing, I would sometimes stew over an idea in my head and get really excited, adding more bits and pieces of what could fit in the shoot. My first solid concept was ‘in an inhuman race’, which I gleaned from listening to too much Phantom of the Opera on repeat. I spent countless hours on the post processing of it, effort was part of the process which made me proud of it. Later on I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked some of my friends to model for me, sometimes someone would drop by and I’d ask her to lie in the garden, other times we should plan shoots.

I started to handmake more props and buy weird things that I could ‘use for a photo’, my room is filled with fabric, string, the occasional dried flowers, and I have a little miniature cardboard TARDIS I made for one of my favourite TV shows. The first 3 months were good to me because it was summer break, I had all the time in the world to dally with. Then uni started and I started lagging with the concepts and sneaking in more snapshots. Some days I’d make the effort to plan concepts, but life happens. It’s really hard to make sure you can have smooth sailing 365 days without any gap of inspiration in between unless you’re taking a gap year or really really have nothing else to do. Life happens! In early July I transferred over to Melbourne, Australia for my degree, where I thought I would burst with endless ideas for things because beauty! place! cold country! wow! But apparently not. I think I need familiarity with places to get comfortable to make things work. I hadn’t realised how weird I was before I went overseas. Most of the time I’d take late night walks with my friends and snap a few. One thing I love about Melbourne is its city and streets though. And sights. And many things I love about Melbourne and I wish I could make them all work in my 365s but I lacked the motivation and courage to carry them out. Some of my worse snapshots (some even almost repeating) were taken at 11.52p or near-ish, of the view from my residence hall room window. You know the one. When I came back to Malaysia for summer, it seemed I’d taken that lazy effort with me because I didn’t really make the effort to find time for photos. In the end I’d barely manage to squeeze one or two hastily snapped shots and I’d call it a day.

Ultimately, I feel that the main point of a 365 is self-discipline, exercising trigger fingers (or remotes in my case), documenting daily life, and just keeping up. You could take the same photo of the usual sunrise or flower for three hundred and sixty-five days, sure it’s still called a 365 day project but it depends on what you’d like to be improving. For me, I wanted to break out of my rusty artist’s block I had in 2012 where I barely picked up the camera except to occasionally take photos of the constantly changing dyed colour of my hair, and I did.

When I started this project I made a promise I would never give it up. I would never, never ever stop halfway. So I stuck by it, and it was sheer stubbornness (and fear of disappointing myself) that kept me going all the way till day 365. Which brings me to a few things I have to ‘fess up to:

  • I didn’t expect so many hasty snapshots in this 365, slight disappointment over there
  • in the beginning I set myself a strict deadline that photos are to be taken, edited, and posted on the day before 12 midnight, obviously that didn’t work out
  • I used to religiously post photos everyday, sometimes 2 or 3 in a day because I was travelling without a laptop, but the most bulk photos I had was about 2 weeks plus (shame, shame, laze)
  • the order of my 365 is slightly messed up because of the above point ^ word of advice, if you’re planning to start a 365, try not to bulk upload, whatever you do. I did it twice and it was enough to slop up my orderly daily photos.

Some cons about taking a picture everyday for a year:

  • you have to make sure you take a picture everyday for a whole year
  • stress
  • worrying
  • life happens life gets in the way nuff said

Now for the good parts! This project didn’t just help me break out of my artist’s block, it opened up a number of new opportunities for me too, bullet point:

  • an exhibition overseas in Nottingham, UK, at CropUp Gallery
  • I sold a piece of work at said gallery
  • a second Daily Deviation on deviantART
  • motivation to code my portfolio website
  • an excuse to bring my camera everywhere I go
  • more people (friends) know I take pictures now
  • commissioned to photograph a garden party
  • + a bonus of recording every single day in a year and realising how quickly time passes by.

I know it sounds cheesy and sometimes people say it in a mocking or joking way but I am really thankful for all the support I’ve had during these 365 days. Especially my friends who encouraged me and gave my photos meaningful words and made me look at them a different way so I wouldn’t think they were just ‘snapshots’. And people. And family who took a long time to realise but are proud of my photography. Ahhh. Ahhhhhh. THANK.

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