It was during one of the countless days of lockdown that I thought - hey - if I put as much time thinking about infections, cases, lockdowns, and lost jobs that I do into a photography project, wow, I could maybe get through this thing with something to show for it.
So in mid 2020, I started a year long photography project, for the second time.
(* all these images were shot digitally)
The first time I did this project, I was a young whipper snapper with a brand new camera in my hand. I had gotten my first REAL camera on my 18th birthday, a Nikon D80. It was an incredible upgrade from my Kodak EasyShare - a whole 4 mega pixels, but hey, I sure used that thing to it's fullest.
Side note. My parents, and my family took a note for my love of photography, and it's doesn't go past me the cost of buying some 18 year old rascal a fancy Nikon camera back then. But they believed in me. And that belief gave me a lot of confidence. I was so excited when I opened that present, it took me a few seconds to be able to touch it. It was too nice.
With that as the start, I knew I had to do something big. So I took a photo (or several photos) every day for 365 days, and chose one photo to represent each day. Apparently, I also felt the need to add some text to each photo. To say that I learned something about photography that year is an understatement of the last decade. For the first time, I learned through trial and error and more trial and more error; lighting, composition, storytelling, and how to actually use an SLR camera.
Here are a few from that project circa 2009-2010.
About 10 years later, I embarked on that project again. This time, to remind myself why I ever picked up a camera in the first place. Since that first project, I learned how make a photography business, but forgot how to do personal work. I forgot how to take photos for fun. I forgot that I fell in love with photography not to make money, but to make art.
So, I put myself in a position that I've told many people over the years to do themselves. When someone asks me "How do I take better photos? I tell them, "You take photos". You intentionally take photos over and over and over again. Not in the same way that you whip out your phone to capture those baby racoons climbing up the tree in your neighbourhood. That's different. That's not intentionally taking photos. You're not reviewing the photo afterward to see how you could have changed the composition, or shot it with a different aperture. In fact, you'll probably never look at that photo again.
I'm talking about taking photos to take photos. To go out to search for something. To find it, and then dissect it, so next time you can extract even more out of that moment.
To go and pick up your camera and to try. To allow yourself to take bad photos, sometimes embarrassingly bad photos in the name of trying an idea. To try to make something different, something exciting. Something that resonates with who you are.
Something that makes you do a little dance when you hit export.
That surprises you a few weeks later.
" I shot that? Wow."
Running a photography business, you learn how to be safe.
You learn how to get the things your clients need. That's really good.
But the artist, on the other side of that lens needs fuel.
And what do artists do?
They experiment. And laugh. They shake their head, they cry. They muster the courage to try again, and again, and again, and again, and again, and again.
They don't make content. They put their heart on the screen.
And this past year...
I think I learned,
how to be an artist again.