Fourth Time’s The Charm?

Day 365

Not very long ago I wrote on this very blog about the end of my third 365 photo a day project and pretty much vowed that I would never do another one. That was in December of 2011 and by January of the next year I had caved in and started my fourth project. And now, exactly 461 (I’m more than 100 days late!) days later, I’m ready to end my fourth project and say with almost 100% certainty that my 365 days are behind me.

Day 1

My reasons for starting another project based around daily photos and journaling last year was because I felt like within those 12 months things in my life were going to be filled with really exciting opportunities that I wanted to try to document. It was true I was surprised with a lot of incredible experiences and I’m glad that I was able to try and interpret them into photographs.

My fourth 365 project was very different from the other’s that I’ve completed. For the first 6 months I was very strict, shooting every day and posting that night. It was draining at times and there were many days in the spring where I was running about 15-20km a night to train for a marathon, grabbing my camera as soon as I was done and shooting for an hour just to get the last bits of light. This started to wear on me and by June I was really unhappy with my work, I was shooting in the wrong light, not thinking of solid concepts, and rushing my editing and I was frustrated. The nature of this type of project is quantity, it’s like a machine making an image a day and by the time summer rolled around I was burning out. I had stopped taking care of myself and my relationships, mostly because of my own internal pressure to try to come up with the next great idea. Instead of taking the time to cook healthy meals, I was surviving on peanut butter and jam sandwiches and apples and spending too much time on the computer and not enough time enjoying all the other parts of my life.

I feel like my turning point was the Midwest Meetup in Indiana in July. It forced me to stop my routine of work, run, shoot, edit, repeat. I felt like I could breathe, I felt like I wasn’t being tied down by a project that even though I had voluntarily agreed to was making me feel like I wasn’t good enough. As a fiercely determined and stubborn person, I like to do a project and see it through and quitting was never an option. After the meetup I started to relax a bit, I took some days off (unheard of!) and let myself shoot when the mood struck and started to become less paranoid about being “on the right day” of the project. In doing this, I felt much better. I felt inspired and motivated and wanted to create work that I was really proud of and now looking back I do feel much more pride in the months following this “intervention”.

midwest gathering – photo by Shane Black

The last 365+ days have truly been incredible. I never would have anticipated all the wonderful experiences that came my way during the course of this project. I travelled to Vancouver, Indiana, Detroit, California, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. I finally met with so many of my photography idols and friends and got to see their talent and beautiful spirits in person. I ran my 4th marathon in my fastest time. I was nominated for an award that took me to an awards show filled with some of the most talented photographers in the world. I was able to pick up a book with my photo on the cover for the first time, I was hired by two magazines to create work for them, I saw my photos on Oprah.com, The Daily Mail, and blogged by celebrities. But most importantly I was able to spend a year (and a bit) expressing myself, my fears and goals through photography and feel so supported and appreciated and understood.

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I highly suggest doing a photography project, whether it’s a 52 week project or a 365 project. These projects allow you to grow, to test yourself and to force your mind to stay sharp. It’s an amazing feeling to go back and see how work and styles and visions can change over the course of a year in your life.

I’m very excited to see where my next adventures take me and I know that my camera will always be there to help me document where I go and who I meet and help me tell the stories that I see in my mind. I have some projects that I can’t wait to start and even though I might miss going out and shooting a photo every day, I’m excited about allowing myself to grow in all ways.

You can view my entire 365 project here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/joel_r/sets/72157629005806697/with/6752321431/