365 Reflections

I’m done! My 365 project, which I introduced to you here on October 13, 2016 concluded June 2, 2017 with this photo.

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Our 365 Facebook group began in early summer 2016 with 33 participants, each with an album. Twelve of those never really got started — less than 10 photos uploaded. A number of them got to about 20-40 photos. Two made it to over 200 and then disappeared. And three of us finished. And as we were pushing each other along, we three became friends — with open invitations to meet face-to-face and a new challenge group on the horizon.

365 was a significant undertaking and time commitment, to be sure, but the resulting personal and creative growth made every click, every scramble to upload, worth it.

Here are some reflections…




The Gifts.

You learn to take each day as its own gift. Don’t think past today. Don’t worry if you don’t have an idea for tomorrow. Tomorrow is tomorrow. After all, the weather can change overnight and what looks drab today, could be snow-covered and different tomorrow.

If you’re stuck, look close, isolate. Look at things in your yard, in your house more closely — for example, I need a photo fast and spied the pegs on the bridge of my old guitar. Some window light and a quick experiment with depth of field and there was my 365 photo.

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Experiment. Be open to playing with props, backdrops, or different gear. For example, toward the end of my project I bought a $30 adaptor and played with my dad’s old 16 mm lens plus a $30 adapter. I built mini-studios with foam core board and Ikea lamps for still life photos.

365-reflections

You simply can’t no longer say there is nothing in your world to photograph. There IS something, even when you don’t think there is.

Get outside! Even when the snow flies. Use a tripod. I’ve never used a tripod more than in this past year — for night shots, for macros, for self-portraits.

Every day has a gift, you just have to find it and be prepared to receive it.

You learn to juggle your time — get up a bit earlier and photograph dawn before work. Explore your community with some night shots. Learn to think quick — sometimes the best 365 is a quick shot.

You get to know your city and community. Although I had lived here since 2004, I went places (and sometimes more than once — in different seasons) that I had either barely visited or never visited. I paid attention to free events and just showed up for the photo opportunity — and my appreciation for where I live grew.

You learn that people are amazingly cooperative, forgiving, and curious when you say you’re doing a 365 project. People are more open to being photographed if they sense that they are helping you along. Giving them some great photos later is a bonus! I certainly noticed, though, that reactions were different when I was near the end of the project than at the beginning. Being able to say you are at photo 300+ out of 365 seemed to make this project more legitimate. Even my dear friend thought I wouldn’t finish.

With a collection of edited photos at hand, a 365 project has the potential to open other doors. I’ve been invited to hang prints in my local politician’s office. I have a collaborative project with a composer on the horizon.

365 Tips and Advice

Be organized — from the beginning. I got more organized as time went on but when a 365 photo was part of a larger photo event, I often forgot to add it to my 365 folder. I eventually made monthly folders but wish I would have done so at the beginning.

One of my 365 friend’s found this app to collect and display her photos albeit near the end of our project.

Collect – Photo Journal and Every Day Picture Diary (Available on iTunes)

Accept from the beginning that when you are finished, you will second guess some of your photo choices. My photo for each day was not necessarily the best photo of the day, but often one that represented that day. A few times I posted early just to say I was done and then went back and saw a different photo taken at that event or place and wished I would have uploaded that file instead.

One of my regrets is my Thanksgiving Day snow photo. I posted the photo of the baffled ducks in the morning but then it kept snowing so my favourite photo later in the day was the snow piled on my colourful patio tables. I resisted the urge to change it.

Be gentle with yourself. This is a personal project, not an application for your dream job.

In the fourth of The 4 Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz, states

“Under any circumstance, always do your best, no more and no less. But keep in mind that your best is never going to be the same from one moment to the next. Everything is alive and changing all the time so your best with sometimes be high quality, and other times it will not be as good.”

After a few months of doing a 365 project you will see that your best is different everyday. And some days, you may not even choose your best — just the photo that feels right for that day. Your rational brain may want to choose the most technically perfect photo but for this project, use your emotional brain as well. Choose a good photo that feels right.

Only a few Disadvantages

Because the commitment is EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. and we have busy lives, you often don’t have time to DO Something with your photos. Over the year, there were many photos that could have been printed, framed, or put into a photo book but that hasn’t happened — yet.

Oh yes…and there were days when the dishes didn’t get done. And the carpet needed vacuuming. But that doesn’t count as a disadvantage — does it?

Final thought — Doing a 365 is/was Great!

You learn that when you take your photography seriously, so do others. 365 gives you an excuse to experience life in many ways, on many levels.

In a year, you have a great collection of photographs that are meaningful to you. Others may enjoy them but you know the background stories — where you were, what you did, what it felt like to be walking around the university (for example) in the dark, with your tripod, trying not to trip because no one knew you were there. Only you know the symbolism behind some of the photos. Only you know the rest of the story.

Now go do it! Find a group or start a group or even just find a buddy. But go do it!

By Ruth Bergen Braun

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In my day job, I’m a professional counsellor in Lethbridge, Alberta. (See my professional website: ruthbergenbraun.com) I work with clients who have a variety of life struggles — depression, anxiety, relationship issues, bereavement, trauma, and past and/or current abuse.

I have loved photography since my darkroom days as a teenager — long before we ever imagined the fun of digital photography. I joke that I’m so old that I took my first photography course B.C. — before computers. I have taken and enjoyed Marlene’s courses, both the Ruzuku format and Marlene’s content. I often recommend her website and online courses to people who want to learn more about both the art and technology of digital photography. I also have recommended her courses as “a gift to yourself” and thus, the idea for our course on using photography as self-care was born.

Follow my photography journey on my Facebook page.

Ruth’s blog posts: 

Ruth and Marlene co-taught Take a Break: Photography for Self-Care



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