Sunday, September 9, 2018

A Year with the Lensbaby Velvet 56

"It's easy to look at what is achievable in a single day and always come up short. But it is just as easy to underestimate what you can accomplish in a year."
                                                                               ~ Christina Rosalie, a field guide to NOW 

I began my 365 photography project purely on a whim. I took one picture that moved me deeply for no explainable reason on September 3, 2017. A year of heart-moving photographs seemed like the personal growth project I needed.

I chose the constraint of the Lensbaby Velvet 56 Lens for the project. The soft dreamy feel that the Velvet 56 gives images was perfect for what I hoped the project would become. I am a big fan of prime lenses, preferring to move myself instead of the lens. Also, having to manually set the aperture and focus, allowed me to compose better within the frame.

I had grand plans of being a different photographer these 365 days, one who photographed the people in her life on a regular basis, capturing special moments and daily life. And for a while I did good, of the 365 photos, 42 photographs have people. Half of those 42 were from my self-portrait photography phase. Only 14 photos were strictly of Findley, the granddog, which is pretty good, since he is a willing poser. That still leaves over 300 photos that were no different than the other 30,000 that have made me the photographer I have always been.

What I realized doing this 365 project, is that I spent too much time focused on getting the best possible shot for the day. How many little things did I miss? The bird songs in the air, the waves lapping on the beach, the ducks swimming with their babies in the channel. How many shots on my camera card did I dismiss because they weren't the very best shot that day?

Recently, I turned down the opportunity to go to Tuscany next May for a photography workshop. I woke up the morning after I had convinced my husband that it would be great idea, and said, "Don't worry, we aren't going to Tuscany." What I realized while I was sleeping is that I didn't want to spend our vacation solely focused on photography. I had just spent the last 365 days getting up every morning and thinking about getting a photo, I didn't want to spend our first trip to Italy with that same thought process.

Some people take adventures strictly so they can photograph. I am one who loves adventure for the sake of adventure, and I'll take some photos along the way to help tell the story. That doesn't mean that I don't strive for the best possible photos while telling the story. I would just prefer to stumble upon the shots than have to be hunting them every single day.

So in the end, I really am the same photographer that I was when I started. What this project showed me is that I love being that photographer.

I am experiencing some withdrawal from this daily shooting, wandering around in the morning not knowing what to do with myself. So, instead of doing short walks carrying a heavy camera, I am leaving the gear at home and taking longer hikes in the woods. This is especially appealing now that the temperature at night is getting down into the 50's. The mornings are pleasantly cool and bug free. Not everything needs to be photographed, some of life just needs to be lived.


  1. I so agree with you. I have enjoyed seeing your photographs though. Have a wonderful time in Tuscany!

  2. It is introspective to know yourself and what would make you the happiest. I know you will still find amazing things and take those shots but with the abandonment of knowing you aren’t constrained and forced. I bought the lens baby but must confess that I have not taken the time to really use it. I have let my photography take a back seat to other activities this summer. I need a tutorial on using it.

  3. Loving this reflection Sarah . . .
    On to just living . . .and . . .
    When You Least Expect . . .

  4. So are you going to tuscany?? without the class? Tuscany is lovely, and as you know I was just there. I did bring my camera gear, however, at 100 plus degrees, with steep cobblestone hills everywhere, I very soon forgot the camera and used my phone. First time ever. Love your lens baby shots. I have one of those which i loved, but have hardly used it for quite awhile. Maybe i am inspired to get it out again. Your projects are always so fun

  5. Couldn't have said it better! I am in much the same place - and better for the journey.

  6. I agree, stumbling upon something that moves me to snap a picture feels more genuine somehow than frantically searching out 'the best shot of the day'. And some things should just be felt with the heart because a picture couldn't even begin to show the depth of the moment. It sounds like you are a changed photographer to me and I bet you have more than 30,000 photos. :)

  7. Lovely simple shots of your everyday life. Yes, there has to be times without photography too. Sometimes we just need to enjoy the moment without wanting to record it all. Serene happiness is in the 'being' and not always in the doing. A thoughtful blog entry, Sarah!

  8. Your last sentence is so true.
    You are a great photographer, Sarah, your images are inspiring and I enjoy every single one of them. I think you made the right decision about the photo workshop - Tuscany is so beautiful, it would be sad if you were focused solely on photography. By now I often only walking with my cell phone, taking the risk of missing a great shot, but instead I'm using all my senses to experience fully what I'm doing. If I find something that is worth coming back with my big camera, I will do that. It took me a while to get there, though.

  9. Congratulations on finishing your year long project. I know you have many, many wonderful photos to remember this year by. You may have felt forced taking the BEST picture each day, but the ones I saw didn't feel that way. I saw of lot of you and your feelings in this project. And you ended with a great conclusion that you are an amazing photographer!

  10. And you are a truly wonderful photographer! Everything you see becomes art. I am going to Tuscany next year - if our plans hold. But I am going for the whole experience. Photography on those trips does not consume me otherwise I would be divorced.

  11. #1 - I'm incredibly impressed that you did a 365 day project!!! Yay, you! #2 It is also incredibly impressive that you learned so, so much! Your photos from this project are awesome, and whether your realize it or not, you did grow as a photographer and not just in understanding the type of photographer that you are and want to be - although that is awesome, too. I agree with you on not always wanting photography to be the focus of exploring and experiences. This is one of the main reasons that I so rarely take photos at family gatherings. I really just want to be there. I love taking photos and capturing things that move me, but I also enjoy just experiencing things.

  12. Hello, I went by to say hello, since I've been disconnected from everything for a long time. As always I love your work. That I still think that they are not chapucillas, but great works. A kiss.


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