My 365 Days photography project: reflections and lessons learned

This post is overdue, but I still think it needs to be written.

Starting on 2009-01-02 and ending back about a month ago or so, I did a 365 Days self-portraits photography project. I still have about two months’ worth of pictures that need posting on Flickr, and I still intend to post them. Most of them will not be edited, and a lot of them only qualify as self-portraits because of the presence of a finger or other body part.

My original goal was a perfect 365. That is, one picture every day for 365 consecutive days winding up on 2010-01-01. I believe I gave it the best I had to offer. I try not to think of my 365 Days project as a failure. Some may call it that because I didn’t finish, but I think this is a mistake, because I learned a great deal from what I did.

I know enough about taking self-portraits now that for about 90% of the times I need a picture of myself taken I will have no issues whipping out the old Nikon Coolpix L18 (or its replacement, or whatever DSLR I finally get when–not if–that day comes) and a tripod, and doing the time-honored self-timer routine. Unless of course, I have a remote. Oh, the number of shots that would have been so much easier with a remote…

I learned some days I’m just not as photogenic as I’d like to be. There were days I was pretty sad. In fact, the final two weeks or so of my 365 Days project, there were personal, emotional, mental struggles that pretty much ensured I was crying every day at some point. Most of those pictures will show only a body part. Amazingly I felt good enough about myself in the middle of that to try to take at least one last decent face shot in Hermann Park. At that point my tripod finally gave out, so then body part shots (sometimes as little as a finger) were really all I could do.

I learned life is about the journey, not the destination. I think it is actually better for me personally to learn the lessons I learned from not completing the 365 Days project, than to have tried to complete it. Maybe it’s because I had no idea, by the halfway point, what completing the project would actually symbolize for me.

I learned a day is pretty short, a year is a long time, yet apparently a year or even a decade isn’t long enough for some things.

Am I unhappy about not reaching the goal I set for myself, completing all 365 days? In a way, yes. It’s never good to set a goal and fall short of reaching it. It’s yet another goal I’ve set and not reached during my life. But in a broader sense, this is something I can at least analyze and learn from my mistakes.

There are other situations where I probably will never know enough to know exactly what I screwed up. Just that I did screw up. Once, I can deal with. But twice, or three, four, five times? It really tests my ability to just pick up the pieces and try to move on.

I’d like to offer my thanks to my loyal readers, especially those I know well enough to consider friends, who have stuck around through the best and worst of times. I have no idea who has stuck around since the beginning. Most people start a blog with a circle of friends that read it every day and it kind of grows from there. I just kind of started mine when Twitter’s 140-character limit got burdensome.

I intend to leave the pictures I took online indefinitely. No true artist is ashamed of his art. I believe those who impose shame on others for their art, in whatever form, simply do not understand it. I have seen my share of art that I find revolting, but never once have I criticized an artist’s willingness to make a statement in whatever media he/she felt most appropriate.

I probably will try again. At the very least, I will try a 52 project (one picture per week) if I decide another 365 is not in the cards.

I will probably do a lot more self-reflecting in the future. It’s probably time to shift my focus away from current events a little bit, as even I am finding some of the topics repetitive. At the very least I’m looking at ways to keep it fresh.

I am allowing comments on this post, however due to its nature there may be some I simply cannot approve or that I feel more appropriate not to discuss further in a public forum.