Thursday, March 03, 2011

One year later...

I've been in the process of writing a retrospective on my year long photo challenge for approximately six months.

Before you get too impressed, this is simply because I wanted to write a "half point" retrospective of how I was feeling six months into my challenge.

And then I kept putting it off. And fairly soon, it seemed ridiculous to post 8 or 9 months into my challenge, so I decided to hang on to my writings and post it all (modified) at the year's end.

I want to first say thank you to everyone who has followed me during my journey this past year. My heart would flutter every time I received an email from Blogger informing me of a new comment. They like my photos! Validation rocks! I know many of you simply came to look, and I can’t thank you enough for your support. Knowing I had an audience looking forward to my posts every day is part of what kept me going.

These past few days have been a combination of weird, oddly satisfying, and empty. I came home Tuesday night and instinctively started to pull my camera out of my bag. And then I had to stop myself. I didn’t take any photos today. I don’t have to post a photo tonight.

Both relief and sadness flooded me. Is it nice not having to worry about the daily task of photography? Yes. I feel like I’ve earned a break. But I now feel like I’ve lost a part of me, something that, at times, enveloped my life for a year! I realize that just because I’m not obligated to use my camera every day, I still can use it to my heart’s content, but perhaps it feels a little different now.

With this in mind, I’ve been dreaming up a new photographic project that I will start this weekend. (Look for my introductory post on that tomorrow.) I want to keep pushing myself to grow and learn, and, of course, I love giving myself an excuse to take photographs. In some ways, this past year has been nothing more than a self-indulgent project! While there were definitely days that I didn’t want to take any photos or that this challenge felt more like a chore, most of the time, I absolutely loved it. And I want to do more.

But first, a look back. How did I get here?

My hope in starting this project was more than just to take photos every day. That was certainly part of it, but I knew (or hoped) that in forcing myself to photograph the world around me daily, both my creativity and technical skill would grow. Posting a chosen photo on this blog was a natural end result and something to keep me in check. It allowed me to complete a photographic process, from snapping the image, to editing, to sharing.

I can honestly say that my skills set as a photographer has experienced tremendous growth. Part of this growth, however, was the continuation of the decision I made when I bought my DSLR, which was to force myself to shoot in full manual mode. Through doing this, and with the help of the photography class I took last year, I was forced to learn everything that my camera was capable of. Sure, I could have taken short cuts, left certain camera settings on auto, but what good would that have done me?

And now, shooting with my Nikon in manual is incredibly natural and seamless. In fact, I feel a bit confused when I have to pick up and operate a point-and-shoot. "What? I just have to point it and shoot? Weird." This growth has been wonderful and having full confidence in what I'm doing is an incredible feeling.

My creativity has grown, too, by leaps and bounds. Would you agree? I believed when I started this project that I already possessed a good photographic eye. I never simply pointed my camera at a subject and clicked away. I naturally had a good sense of how to frame the shot with an interesting perspective.

And while I was worried about how that would hold up to daily use, I never thought I'd see the quick and very real changes to my creative eye. I don't mean to be a braggart, but I was genuinely surprised by this growth, and now I seriously think my ability to compose a great photograph is awesome.

That's just good taste and sense talking. :)

I now look at my first month or so of photographs, and while I have favorites from that first foray into this challenge, I'd say about half of the photos inspire a big fat "meh" from me. As the months go on, however, more and more photos still stand out to me as not merely okay photographs that were nice enough to post, but truly great works of photographic art.

Am I talking myself up too much? (Feel free to say yes!)

I know some of my favorites from this past year, but what are some of the photos that you’ve really loved? I’d be very interested in knowing your thoughts.

That being said, I fear I don’t have much more to say. Just keep an eye on the ole’ blog. I’ll keep on photographing and sharing my experiences. In fact, I have a lot of photos backlogged that I want to share soon.

Also, on a related note, remember when The Pioneer Woman chose my frog photo last year for one of her photography assignments? Well, it’s happened again! What a wonderful cherry on top of an accomplished week!

I took this photo of Jessica, The Best Friend, on her wedding day in Las Vegas back in October while she was getting ready in her hotel room. I seriously love this photo on so many levels. I loved that I captured such a calm sense of anticipation emanating from Jessica. She looks so gorgeous in this photo. And I’m not just saying that because she’s The Best Friend. And I’m thrilled that PW chose this photo for her “Sisters” assignment! Jessica's practically a sister to me. We even have a song.

More good things to come.


  1. I always thought you took great pictures :) I can't wait to see what the next project is! And congrats on the nod from PW. That is a beautiful moment you captured.

  2. If I had to choose, I love the Christmas stockings picture, and the Christmas lights pictures, and your 50's kitchen picture. These are so fun!