Monday, July 27, 2015

The Gap Year


It has been almost a year since I finished my first, and what I vowed to be my last, 365 photography project.


I feel like when I started that project on September 1, 2013, I was not a particularly good photographer. Looking back through my 365 album for that project confirmed, at least in my mind, that conclusion. It wasn't a total bust, there was a good one here and there, but that was mostly due to pure luck, not skill. Most days I was taking a picture of something, anything, just to cross that action off of my to-do list for the day.


The thing I was missing the most that year though wasn't skill, it was intention. I rarely had a plan, I mostly just pressed the shutter and called it good.


In this gap year, I have learned a lot. I have learned a lot about photography from endless reading, and video e-course watching, but mostly I have learned from practicing, still almost daily practice, but practice with intention.


I have brought my composition skills to new heights, following the rule of thirds almost religiously. I did a 100 day project on Instagram showcasing leading lines. It is amazing what you can see when you look with intention.


I still have so much to learn about post-processing, but it is only with daily practice that that skill will continue to improve. I am currently in a black and white phase, and I am working on mastering converting my images myself instead of relying on a preset. Somedays, as beautiful as some of those presets are, they just can't give me what the photograph is asking for.


In the last half of this gap year, I have been learning a lot about myself. For the first four months of 2015, I pursued writing whole-heartedly, only to learn that my passion truly is photography. Sometimes you have to take the longest route possible to find your way home.


Since February, I have been intentionally immersing myself in self-portraiture work. I have learned so much about light and shadow, angle and movement, about myself and my camera since beginning this self-portrait adventure. I see my own unique style starting to develop, I know where I want to take my style, but as Ira Glass says in his famed You Tube interview "there is still that gap" from where my work is and where I want it to go.


All that being said, my next project has found me. On Saturday, August 1st, I am going to start a 365 project of self-portraiture. The project idea found me this past Wednesday, and by Thursday I had almost talked myself out of the project, thinking this is a crazy idea that I will never stick with for a whole year. What was talking was fear. I am reading David duChemin's book The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photographs and I came across this quote as I was reading "Courage is not the absence of fear; it's the act of will to act in the presence of fear. So, to be blunt, either work up the courage to do it, or don't. For most of us our fear is strongest where we have the most to lose, so hold it lightly."


No matter what, I am going to come out of this next year stronger, and hopefully a better photographer, but I will never be either of those things if I don't at least try.

Inspiration Sources



Great Video E-courses


24 comments:

  1. Looking forward to following your new project.

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  2. Can't wait to see it unfold. Isn't that DuChemin book wonderful?

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  3. Sarah you truly are an inspiration and I love your persistence to carve your photography path! Thank you for the excellent quote...it has more meaning to me today for a big reason. Also thank you for the references. I'll read through them this week. Good luck with your 365 project.

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  4. Looking forward to catching glimpses of your 365 day journey, 2015-16.

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  5. Sarah both of us are starting new journeys, I so look forward to following your adventures. I hope you won't completely give up on chronicles I love them so much. David DuChemin is such a great teacher and photography philosopher. Check out his ebook THE VISION-DRIVEN PHOTOGRAPHER on Craft and Vision I loved it...Here's to another year...

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  6. I love looking back over the last few years of your photography! You are an inspiration as you keep trying new avenues and growing. Looking forward to your new project. I hope you continue to post some on your blog as I don't use IG. Wishing you the best!

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  7. Sarah, you continue to inspire me with the way you set goals for yourself and carry them out. Your gap year has served you well! The improvement in your photography AND your writing is demonstrated in this post. It's valuable to have discovered you're a photographer who writes, rather than a writer who takes photos, yet you're clearly finding your voice as well as your eye. I'm excited about your self-portrait 365 project!

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  8. You go girl!
    I share so many of the same feelings that you've expressed here and understand in my heart what you are talking about.
    I look forward to this next project of yours - watching & learning right along with you as you move forward with this project. Maybe I'll even join you on this journey??

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  9. Kudos to you Sarah for taking such an intentional approach to improving your photography. It had yielded great results as evidenced by the great images here! That is my goal too, although I don't always manage to stay on track as I'm not as disciplined as you ;-) ! Look forward to your next big challenge. Yes, that one does take courage. But you'll do it, I know!

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  10. It is wonderful when we realize what brings us true joy. I can see how your new project will bring you a lot of happiness.

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  11. Way to go! You've learned so much - I don't ever remember your photography not being good - but I have seen some changes that have been really fantastic! Your dedication and practice shows! :-)

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  12. What a wonderful post this is, Sarah, and I think that your images are equally wonderful.
    A 365 is such a good way to see your work evolve.

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  13. You already have a great start in this forte and I eagerly look forward to how you advance an already enviable skill.

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  14. Sarah, Your reflections over the last year are helpful to you - and to me. I wholeheartedly agree - we must step out and try, despite our fears. And sometimes the answer or direction is different than we might have anticipated or expected. I'm happy for you that you continue to be curious, creative, and open - me, too! Looking back over your pictures, not with a critical eye, but with an eye for learning, is so helpful. I can see your growth and your path is changing with pictures that are rooted in the stories of your life. I've been doing much the same. In looking over my Instagram photos, I can see that I am a different person these days . . . not content to stay inside, happy for adventure, more open to self-reflection, looking for the pictures of a lifetime. Can't wait to follow you on your next adventure!

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  15. Sarah, Your reflections over the last year are helpful to you - and to me. I wholeheartedly agree - we must step out and try, despite our fears. And sometimes the answer or direction is different than we might have anticipated or expected. I'm happy for you that you continue to be curious, creative, and open - me, too! Looking back over your pictures, not with a critical eye, but with an eye for learning, is so helpful. I can see your growth and your path is changing with pictures that are rooted in the stories of your life. I've been doing much the same. In looking over my Instagram photos, I can see that I am a different person these days . . . not content to stay inside, happy for adventure, more open to self-reflection, looking for the pictures of a lifetime. Can't wait to follow you on your next adventure!

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  16. Love the idea of intention Sarah. It's a simple one, but so important. You've made me think this morning!! That's good. If you remember one of your blog posts or ideas motivated me to spend time learning graphic design. Well, in three weeks I start a year long certificate program at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I too have a daily practice learning new skills in this area of study. My intention was to learn so I can get a job to pay for my kids school. While I think this is great, I'm thinking that I need to rethink this.....thanks for the spark! Can't wait to see your new project.

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  17. This resonated so much to me, Sarah. I have struggled somewhat in delving into something deeper with my photography since Kim Klassen has pretty much gone the "still life" route. I have to say I have done so much in the past two years on memory keeping, but my blog and photography seem to have it a stagnant place. Thanks for the links...I may take the composition course. Looking for good places to invest my money with a good return as far as courses and learning is concerned. Keep growing and stretching. I hope to follow your lead!

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  18. I admire your ability and determination to continuing learning and practicing thru books, videos, yourself. I have definitely seen a change in your style and focus in the past couple of years. Congrats on your 365's....you have much more stick to it ness than I do. Tried twice, failed twice. I did order that book when Dotti talked about it, now I need to read it!!

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  19. Yay for you! Being your beloved or in my term, being your own best friend, is a real gift and I find God right there. I'll love watching your 365 project!

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  20. swoon….that water scene…..be still my heart!!! and as photographers, i feel that all we do is try our best while learning constantly in the process….wait, that goes basically for everything in life, right :) serendipity when i write my thoughts like that and they come out to surprise me!

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  21. Always love seeing all of your amazing energy and growth in all that you attempt with this. You are inspiring! Will look forward to seeing this new 365 day project.

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  22. Thanks for sharing those resources. Your commitment to your craft is admirable.

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  23. I am always inspired when I visit with you. I love your determination and willingness to continue trying new techniques and it really shows in your photographs. Intention, just what I needed to hear. I am so on and off with my photography that I am encouraged to dig deeper inside myself and not let the fear keep me from doing something I really enjoy.....I look forward to your new project....

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  24. that is great you have started another 365 and especially a self portrait one, well done!! I like continuing on this journey of photography discovery too.

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)