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.
David duChemin's book: The Visual Toolbox: 60 Lessons for Stronger Photography
Great Video E-courses