As I reflect on my 365 Project, I wanted to share a few things I learned and did and why it was the best personal project I’ve ever committed to. I could write a lot and go on an emotional rant, but it’s my family, it’s super personal. Instead of doing that, I’m sparing my readers and narrowing it down to the top 12 things I learned, followed by the collection of photos in (almost) months. I wanted them to still be semi visible so I grouped them the best I could to facilitate that.
1 – there are no rules
Except one. Take one photo a day for an entire year. I didn’t want to limit myself by setting other rules. It didn’t have to be my kids (although it mostly was and that’s ok), it didn’t have to be outside, it didn’t have to be a certain lens. It was usually whatever lens had been on the camera from a previous session but sometimes I’d change it up. I edited all types of ways, which helped me grow in my knowledge of photoshop and if I felt like a black and white then that’s what I did. I set absolutely no limits other than taking a photo a day.
2- sometimes focus is off
Let’s be honest. I have two small children. It was not realistic for me to take 20 plus photos a day of things. Often times I grabbed the camera off the desk in a quick second hoping to capture whatever it was I noticed they were doing. Sometimes I tried to snap before I had the best settings, some of the photos/days this was hard to accept but some days I loved what I got… it’s the moment that matters most.
3- it’s real life and I forgot the camera a lot
I did my best to try to take the camera places with us. I was not very good at this. Lugging a baby carrier, a diaper bag, the knick knacks my son wants to take everyone, AND a heavy camera seemed daunting some days. It’s real life. Lots of photos were taken on walks and at home. If I was going to do it again, I would strive to take the camera everywhere we went. There was even one time that I left the camera at my parents and I made my husband turn the car around to get it so I could post my daily photo. I did a great job actually posting a photo a day for the first 6 months. After that a bit of reality moved in with the baby being mobile and I tended to go 3-9 days without uploading and had to upload online all at once. I still took the photos each day.
4- my kids are still kids and not models
God love my children who completely went through this with me. There were definitely days of my talking Sterling into letting me take a photo of him. Maybe some bribes with York Peppermint Patties, his favorite. Some days they were more like models when I didn’t have to convince them. Those were awesome days.
5- it was hard
It is so hard to do this project. It just is. It’s a day in, day out commitment. Now if only I could commit to the gym like that.
6- it’s an entire year
Which is awesome. I have an entire year of photos of my family’s day to day moments and life. When I see all the photos together in a collage, you could literally point to any one and I could tell you what was happening that day or what was going on at that moment. That is one of my favorite things. Like they say, a picture tells a thousand words.
7-you have to find balance
Ohhh balance. Why are you so hard? There were times when I had work that prioritized over my personal project. There were days I wanted to edit my own photos and enjoy that, but I love my job and I had to back burner this in terms of uploading and sharing a few times. I had to find the balance of not shoving my camera in my kids faces at moments when I really wanted to take a photo. I had to be present in their lives without my camera.
8- i never took more than about 10 photos a day and I liked that.
I just didn’t. Living in the digital age, it’s hard not to get carried away with trying it again, and again, and again. It wasn’t going to be worth it to me, and honestly, I wasn’t really wanting to put that kind of wear on my camera bodies. There were some days when I literally only took one photo. Some days I took 10 and wanted to share 5 of them.
9. I wish I had done more
I wish I had done more to get the photos I had in my head. Since I will not be doing the 365 this year, my goal is to shoot more of what I want to shoot on a personal level. Perhaps a few larger projects.
10. Just do it
Around days 40-70, and with the arrival of a new baby, the reality set in. This was a make or break portion of my project. I’m so glad I stuck it out and I encourage you to do the same. A photo a day. What could you capture? What moment will you never get back but be able to remember with your children in 10 or 20 years?
11. Supportive family and friends
I definitely could not have accomplished this without the support of my friends and family. The likes, the comments, the messages saying, “where is your photo for today?!?” Thank you to everyone who encouraged me and looked forward to seeing my life.
12. It was the best thing I ever did for my children.
This is a slight repeat of #10, but this is true. I have sooo many things to talk to my children about down the road. Not only did I document the first 9 months of Palmer’s life, but I also was able to document Sterling and all the growing up he did with the arrival of a new little sister. It has been an amazing year and I love that I will have these photos forever. I look forward to ordering an album and I will share that when it arrives!!!
Now, get your camera out and start taking photos of your life!
Elizabeth Seidel, Virginia wedding photographer and portrait photographer located in Lynchburg, VA serving the greater Virginia area including Hampton Roads, Richmond, Roanoke and beyond.