Monday, January 02, 2012

Project365 366: One Year Later

During 2011 in did "Project 365". I took a photo a day, every single day, and sometimes a hundred photos to get one keeper. I organized my work into weekly self assignments. The project was very successful. Not only did I take a picture everyday, but I also posted it to this blog, usually within a day of taking the image. According to Google Analytics I had 1400 unique visitors over the year. My audience was global; Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Australia, India, Germany, France, Mexico, Indonesia, and Italy were my top ten countries. With visitors from 74 countries in total. For a good part of the year the images were cross-posted to Facebook (until they turned off the RSS syndication feature) and also on Google+ . So from a shear numbers perspective, I am under counting. Although numbers are interesting, they are not my measure of success.

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Why did I do "Project 365"? The basic goal was to improve my photography. Without a doubt I have achieved that goal. It may not be obvious by flipping through my years worth of imagery. In part because you can't see what I threw away! I found the structure of a theme useful in order to force me to stretch just that much more. I avoided the "easy out" of taken a picture of my toes before I went to bed. I also used it as an opportunity to focus on and improve some techniques. For example while working on my black and white theme, you only saw one image per day, but I experimented with many. I also combined that with specific reading on various topics, such as Andrew Gibson's "The Magic of Black and White".
I have sure you have all heard of Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hour rule . I certainly did put in 10,000 hours during my year. I didn't keep formal track, but I estimate somewhere between 500 and 1,000 hours invested. David duChemin wrote an article entitled 'Do The Work'.  He cited several quotes that I would like to repeat directly. 
“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” ~Emile Zola
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working.” ~ Picasso
“Just as appetite comes by eating, so work brings inspiration, if inspiration is not discernible at the beginning.” ~ Igor Stravinsky

This whole concept of putting in the time behind the lens, and also the critical evaluation of your work - every day - is a key benefit of Project 365.

There are some limitations that come along with the rigours of daily production, at least for me. I was not able to spin a longer tale. Although the week's work did have some consistency to it, they did not form a cohesive story. Perhaps it can be done, if one were to make it a full time job, or had more established talents. 

Many have asked me, "Are you going to do it again?" My answers is maybe some year, but not 2012. I want to spend this year coming catching up on some of the great images I took in the past year, but didn't have time to deal with and also to work on the larger bodies of work. One such effort will be a book of the years worth of imagery.

I started Project 365 with a self-portrait and for day 366, that is the way I will end it. Happy New Year to all. 

Self Portrait 2012

1/4 f/2.8 70 mm
Canon EOS 40D, EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
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