I cannot believe 2020 is over and we are already beginning a new year. While the first few months seemed to crawl by (especially those first months in quarantine), these last 6 have flown! Never did I think this year would turn out the way that it did, and what a year to begin this 365 project.
If you have never heard of a 365 project, it simply is this: take one picture, every day, each day of the year. To be correct I really should call this a 366 project since 2020 was a leap year (my kids have corrected me on this several times!) More importantly, I wanted to document our year as a family-and boy what a year this was to document! There was no shortage of opportunities to capture my kids since they were literally with me every. single. day. I thought I would share a few takeaways from this project and what I learned this past year from it.
1) My 365 Project Taught Me How to Shoot In All Sorts of Lighting
As a San Diego Photographer, all of my outdoor sessions are scheduled for golden hour, which is 1-2 hours before the sun sets. At this time of day the lighting is even and casts a warm, soft glow on my subjects. It's also very predictable. I know where to position my clients to get the right light on them and create beautiful consistent images for their gallery. With my 365 project, I took photos at all hours of the day in all sorts of locations and light: mid day with harsh bright light, early morning hours with a little bit of light streaming in, and in various parts of my home with all of the overhead lights on. At first it was really hard for me to not want to move my kids into a shady area or turn off all of the lights in my home to create a better lighting situation, but one of my main goals with this project was to grow as a photographer and to learn how to shoot at any time of the day, in any location, and under any situation, and still produce images I loved.
2) My 365 Project Taught Me How to Appreciate The Mundane
This was quite the year to begin this project! When I look back at the moments I captured, most of them include board games, puzzles, and playing in our backyard. With four young kids my home is typically a disaster most of the time and our backyard is on our list of 2021 house projects. Every time I went to snap a picture my first thought was this is not gong to be that great. When I look back, though at the gallery as a whole, I see so much beauty in these sweet simple moments of my kids: board games, card games, riding bikes, playing kickball, reading books, homeschooling, baking,.... the list goes on and on. This project showed me how many memories were made and how much time was spent as a family this past year. So many moments I'm grateful for.
3) My 365 Project Allowed Me to See The Growth in My Kids and Document Our Travels
It's crazy to look back and see how much younger my kids were just a year ago. My littlest had a pacifier and sill slept in a crib (cue the tears). My daughter learned how to ride a bike and I got to capture the joy on her face as she proudly showed off her accomplishment. We traveled to Sedona and the Grand Canyon, went beach camping and hiked numerous trails. My kids all learned how to surf and my middle two can ride a skateboard like a boss! I know I will treasure these images that document the most unforgettable year of our lives-well, maybe a year we would really like to forget parts of.
4) My 365 Project Challenged Me to Be More Creative
I have to be honest, taking pictures of my kids playing board games and putting together puzzles got pretty boring after awhile! For most of the year parks were closed, sporting events were cancelled, and our two favorite spots-the San Diego Zoo and Seaworld- were shut down. We spent the majority of our time this year at home, as did most of the world. To keep this project interesting and my gallery from feeling like it was all the same picture, I tried to shoot from different angles and be more creative in my composition.
5. My 365 Project Reminded Me That My Kids Really Do Love Each Other
My house is loud and it often feels like I'm putting out a fight every 5 minutes (or less!). We've all had to adjust to being together 24/7 and it's easy to focus on the negative parts of the day rather than zoom out to all of the beauty it held. These photos-most of them candids that were simply caught in the moment-reminded me that my kids really really love each other.
So, will I do another 365 project next year?
YES! The answer to that question is a no-brainer. I absolutely plan to continue this project for the unforeseeable future. It was such a fun and creative outlet for me as a mom and photographer. It helped me grow in my craft and gave me a way to be creative outside of my photography sessions. However, there are a few changes I will make to ensure that it goes a little bit more smoothly this next year.
1) I will use a separate memory card specifically for my 365 project
At the beginning of the year, I was really diligent at using one particular memory card for my 365 project. I used separate memory cards for sessions I did and remembered to switch them out when I photographed my family. As the year went on and my sessions increased, I often forgot to change memory cards and my personal photos got mixed in with family sessions, newborn sessions, or weddings. When it came time to update my 365 album I had to sift through previous sessions in order to find my personal images. This year I want to be more consistent with using one memory card solely for this project.
2) I will download, edit, and update my 365 gallery once a week
In the beginning of the year I was committed to staying-up-to-date with this project. Fellow photographer friends whose work inspires me on the daily, recommended downloading and editing your 365 images every 4-5 days. This year I want to set aside one day a week (Fridays, which are our family days and non-work days for me) to download, edit, and update my 365 gallery.
3) I will break out of my comfort zone and focus on composition more
While I mentioned before that this project helped me learn how to shoot in all sorts of lighting, one thing I want to focus more on this year is composition. I had a few images that I shot from a different angle, but often I just quickly snapped a photo of my kids playing or riding their bikes, just to get the shot for the day. This year I want to focus my creative efforts on composition-shooting through trees, bushes, new angles, etc. I truly believe creatively practicing with my own family will help me be more creative in my family and newborn sessions this next year.