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Photo a day projects

Last year I attempted a project where I committed to taking a photo a day for 365 days. If you look at my Flickr page dedicated to this project you will notice there are not 365 photos for you to look at. Some sceptics (including myself) would not be surprised by this. I still haven’t updated the site with all the photos I did take. I have hundreds of photos sitting here on my computer, and my external hard drive, waiting for something to happen to them. I managed to write reflections on about two months worth of photos and I have copious notes written about others that I have never published. I got behind. I let the days, turn into weeks and then it got harder to catch up. I made it difficult by setting unrealistic expectations for myself. I got carried away with my reflections. I agonised over whether or not what I had written was worthy of being posted on my blog. I allowed everything else to become more important. This project became a burden and yet it was energising and incredibly exciting.

Technically you could say my Project 365 was a failure, yet this couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality this project has had a profound impact on me and my life. It has opened my eyes and my mind to a world that I was amazingly oblivious to before. Everything is now different. I notice things. I stop and enjoy them. I never go anywhere without my camera and a journal. This project has been the impetus for me to make profound changes in my life like changing jobs and even beginning a new career. I also discovered new passions – photography, writing, and poetry – as I learnt how to ‘see’ with my whole being.

Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again, and you will grow stronger until you have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with perhaps, but one you’ll be glad to remember.
Anne Sullivan

I want to try again and see if I can actually achieve a photo a day for a year, or even longer. To me this is a goal worth pursuing and I am trying to work out how I can make this work for me. Taking the photo was the easy part. I discovered that writing the reflection on what I had seen through my camera lens was the most time consuming aspect yet this was the icing on the cake – it made the photo, and the experience of seeing, meaningful. How do I fit all this into my hectic days where I often don’t take lunch hours and I come home exhausted and feeling brain dead? I need to make changes or work out how to fit this project into ‘me’ time on a daily basis. This is about my health and well being after all.

I am not quite ready to begin my second attempt at Project 365 but that time is drawing ever closer. After reading about Jamie Livingston’s project where he took a Polaroid photograph a day from 31 March 1979 through to the day of his death on 25 October 1997 I am feeling even more inspired.

When that itch surfaces to revisit all the big moments in our lives (the proms, weddings, births, European vacations), we naturally reach for the photo album. But where are all those other days — that Tuesday in March, say, when, as far as we can recall, nothing happened? The New York–based cinematographer Jamie Livingston found something worth photographing that day, and the next, as he meticulously (and miraculously) chronicled twenty years of his life in Polaroids before succumbing to cancer in 1997, on his 41st birthday.

Photo of the Day is the beautifully sad website erected by Livingston’s friends to catalogue his prodigious output, with 6,697 captured moments ranging from the mundane to the sublime.

Source: Jamie Livingston Polaroid-A-Day on Very Short List, Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn

Look at this photo taken by Tom Boettcher in October 2007 of one wall of Jamie’s photos from an exhibition organised by his friends.

Jamie Livingston exhibition, October 2007. Photo by Tom Boettcher

Photo source: Osbeefeel2001

This is so incredible. When you look at the individual photos they seem so ordinary and yet they talk to me. I don’t know the man behind the camera but I do connect with these images. They turn the ordinary into something extraordinary. All that effort is worth it. I need to remember this. I feel that second attempt is going to begin sooner rather than later!

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One Response to “Photo a day projects”

  1. on 06 Jun 2008 at 12:38 pm margoconnell


    This is a lovely post, thank you! You hit the button for me here in thinking about projects generally and how we have a tendency to lock ourselves into the project outcome (‘Are we getting there?’) rather than looking at the process as being organic and changing with the changing needs of projects.

    I’ve thought on this recently as we’ve picked up about 8 flexible learning projects to be developed and completed by early December. There’s a ‘deliverable’, a timeline and a contract to sign to ensure the deliverable is completed and is on time!

    The objectives of the projects overall (with variations of this in each project) is to produce some sort of e-learning approach and/or content to share with the broader e-learning community across the country, as it relates to training and education programs, etc!

    Sure, there’s nothing wrong with this and I’m sure you’ve been involved in many a project that stipulates similar needs…BUT…why is it that this is predominantly the view of projects?

    I like the emergent approach both the project design and to work practices (including practice-based research particularly). I’ve blogged about emergence in the past and it’s something I’m also trying to discuss with my team and warm them to this process, so that there’s more of a balance between doing the project (in terms of logistics) and letting other factors (usually serendipitous learnings) unfold and bring these thoughtfully into the project too – often this drops off and remains intangible or not acknowledged as being a valued part of the project.

    So you’ve brought this again to the fore for me – I’ll keep thinking on this (as I’m also writing an essay about similar issues including networked learning!).

    Hope you’re well and keep the thoughts coming! :o)

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