I first heard of a 365 project a few years ago. A 365 is where a person commits themselves to take at least 1 photograph per day, every day, no exceptions, for 1 whole year. The concept, while always admirable, never felt do-able for me. I always felt way too busy to take on such a commitment, and I just couldn’t picture where it would fit in with my already really busy schedule. I also battled depression on and off over the years, and I couldn’t imagine trying to take a photograph while in the midst of feelings of despair. Just thinking about doing that made me feel vulnerable. I simply was not ready.
This year is different. I have grown and healed a lot over the years, yet I am currently in the thick of what I feel like will be one of my most difficult life chapters: I am a newly single mom to my 5 amazing children. This, while difficult, is a blessing because we are now out of a toxic situation. But, life feels uncertain at this time.
During times of uncertainty, I know from past experience that I have to have an outlet, lest I fall into another cycle of depression. I am determined not to go there. I have come into this new year with an overwhelming urge coming from some place deep within me to do more of the one thing that has always felt certain for me: photography. Photography runs much deeper than simply taking a picture and capturing a moment for me. Photography is my dance partner that pulls me out of my comfort zones and pushes me to break barriers and strive to look at everything in new ways. When nothing else in my life feels certain, photography reminds me that nothing in life is certain, and this is the way it is supposed to be, and then photography guides me to where the hope and love is in every single ever changing day. Then, photography, being the insightful and flowing dance partner that she is, leaves me with her gifts: memories, and the ability to always look back while nurturing the drive to keep pushing forward.
So this year, I decided to put my doubts to sleep and take the leap to finally start and commit to my very own 365 project. No matter what is happening in my personal life – busy days, sad days, hard days, I will have my camera within arms reach to capture our life as we live it – or – to do something creative and/or express myself. I am giving myself no expectations other than to take at least one photograph a day, and there is no need to be perfect.
I am one month in now, and I’ve stuck by my commitment to myself by taking at least one photograph every single day. I have no intentions on stopping. If anything, this practice is fueling me and healing me. While it was at first difficult to get used to bringing my camera with me everywhere, it’s now becoming a habit for me to grab it along with my purse and my keys and my cell phone – like second nature. I absolutely love always having it within my grasp whenever a moment arrives that is worth capturing (with 5 children, there are a LOT of little moments worth capturing every single day!) Not only am I healing myself through my new habit of daily photographing, I am also documenting so much more of my children’s lives, which I know they will love to look back on some day, just as I love looking back on my childhood memories through photography.
Here are some of my favorites from January:
Looking back, I realize that I was the biggest obstacle standing in my own way of committing to a 365 project in the past. I thought that putting the pressure on myself to create one perfect photograph every single day for one year straight would surely do me in – especially during my struggling days. Today however, I see now that to create one portfolio worthy image every day would be enormous pressure for many people, and it would be missing the point of 365 entirely: to shoot more, learn, and grow as a photographer. It doesn’t matter if I take an excellent photograph or a “bad” one. All that matters is that I am making the effort every single day to push myself and to create. It’s all in the effort, and I believe that this project is helping me hone in on my own personal style and voice. I look forward to every day!
And just so you know, it doesn’t have to be January 1st for you to start a 365 project. You can start any time! Have you done a 365? Would you try it? I would love to know your thoughts!
Don’t forget to follow along the blog circle! Melissa Hunt, a Charleston family photographer, captured a gorgeous family session that is a must see!