Dust on My Lens: 17 Days into a 365 Photo Project

I admit I slacked off last year. Other things in my life took priority over photographs. This happens to everyone at some point. Family, work, and other extracurricular activities consume so much time that the camera stays on the shelf. Well, in that vein, my camera's been collecting dust lately, and I've hated myself for it.

"What you need, Suzanne," I said to myself, "is a good kick in the pants. Something to spark your interest again, get you going outdoors, searching for that one photograph."
And that gave me an idea.

Now, I'm not big on making resolutions. My mother taught me to promise only what I can fully deliver. So my idea of a New Year's resolution is avoiding watermelon. (I hate watermelon.) Or eating more chocolate. (Conversely, I love chocolate.) Both of those promises I can keep with myself. But in this case I was desperate, and desperate times call for desperate measures.

Day 1

I had heard of the 365 project before. This is the idea to make one photograph each day for an entire year and post them in an album together. It sounded like the perfect cure, and I'd considered doing it in past years. But frankly, I'm generally too lazy, and knowing this about myself always prevented me from participating.

Yeah, I know. Coddling to my own laziness. That's bad discipline. But don't beat me up yet, because this year I'm different. January first at nine p.m. I made up my mind. I gave myself the power talk. "Suzanne, you're going to do this. You will learn something and see things that sitting around on the couch won't teach you."

You know how that is - you convincing yourself to do what you shouldn't have to convince yourself to do. But, no, I'd made up my mind, and I wasn't backing out. However, it was nine p.m. and pitch dark outside, so the only shots left were long exposures, and that meant dragging my tripod out from the back of the closet where it's also been collecting dust.

Sigh. Laziness again.

Day 6

Yet I did it, and here I am seventeen days and seventeen photographs later with proof. I've learned several important things along the way, things I wasn't expecting to learn and others I just needed reminding of.

1. Finding one photograph each day is sometimes impossible.

I will not, will not, resort to photographs of the couch or the dog. I am determined. Well, okay, so maybe the dog on a bad day. She is cute. But working from eight to five and finding time to search for one good shot is nigh on impossible, and the pressure of that can be overwhelming.

2. Finding one photograph each day is very relieving.

On the opposite side of this issue, I only have to find one photograph, not ten. Once I have the one shot I know I want to use, I can stop and go back indoors. Woohoo!

Day 10

3. My spouse is the best person to help me with this project.

He sees what I do not. This is not news to me. I am the person who flies by a business every day and doesn't notice they've been closed for a month. He's the guy who knew they were closing a week before they did. Already he's saved me.

"Did you see that bald eagle?"

Well, of course not. I'm me.

4. Life goes on without me.

This I knew, but stepping out again and taking photographs has emphasized it. With my head buried in other things, I missed the subtle nuances of nature that I used to so enjoy - the blooming of an early-season flower, a bee buzzing in the garden, a dragonfly flying about at the wrong time of the year.

How I've missed all that.

Day 13

5. I love photography.

This is the best, most important lesson of all. I still love photography. I love making photographs, working with photographs, writing about photographs. I love sharing them, describing them, finding out what things in them are.

Photographs are a part of who I am, and I am so glad to have that knowledge back.

Day 14

As I write this, there remain 348 days in this year. That's 348 days-worth of research and observation, three hundred forty-eight days exploration into a marvelous world that I have ignored. I can feel it building in my bones already, a certain expectation. What will I find tomorrow? And what will I learn along the way? Where will this project take me a month from now, or how about in April or July?

Excitement, that's what it is- to be excited about photography again, to plan trips specifically to see what I can photograph, and to enjoy the memories for years afterward. That, maybe, is the greatest thing of all.

Want to follow along with my project this year? Connect with me at my blog, where I will be posting the previous week's pictures each Sunday.