Today marks a strange day in my life. The first day in the past year that I don’t need to pick up my camera! For the past 12 months I’ve been working towards completing a 365 self-portrait a day challenge and yesterday I quietly turned my camera off and took a deep breath. It was like that feeling that you get when you finish a great book or get to the top of a mountain and you know that you’ve finished something really great.
Now, it’s not my first 365 project…not even my 2nd, this was my 3rd project and I really think that the saying “third time’s a charm” really applied to this past year’s go around. I started the project with a bit of apprehension as I didn’t know if I would have the brain power to do another year of images and knowing that I’m extremely hard on myself and that I would finish the project no matter what. What followed after that first image was a year of amazing experiences that I’m so proud of and thankful to have been able to have happen. Never would I have imagined that I would meet so many beautiful kindred spirits, or that I would see my face on the cover of a magazine, or my work on a CD cover, or have people appreciate my work as much as they have. I’m humbled by the opportunities that have popped up in my world in the last year and I am so excited to see where my life will go in the next year and beyond.
The idea of a 365 project isn’t new, nor is it original but it is such an amazing chance to not only learn more about photography but to learn more about yourself as well. I’ve been asked (or had comments) regarding self-portraiture and 365 projects as being narcissistic or self-absorbed but it’s not like at all. Photographing yourself everyday for a year is a lot harder than you might think, there are days that you feel ugly, days that you feel tired or angry and you have to shoot through that. It really is an exceptional opportunity to learn about photography about how to create new ways to present yourself, your views and your artistic vision.
In the course of my journey through photography I have come to not only accept myself for who I am, but appreciate what makes me different. Before I began these projects, I truthfully had a hard time looking in a mirror or a photos of myself because I didn’t like the person that I saw. I remember one day a few years ago, finally looking at myself in the mirror, eye to eye and I realized that it had been so long that I had actually looked at myself that I didn’t even know the last time I had. Maybe it does seem a bit narcissistic, but for me working on these self-portraits has given me an opportunity to see myself in a new light, to appreciate myself and to be proud of myself. I’ve struggled with self-confidence for most of my life and this journey that I’ve been on in the past few years has really helped me to overcome my negative self-talk and to try to set a new course for myself.
I tend to be a perfectionist around certain things, when I sign up for something I have absolutely every intent on finishing it. I have a slightly intense competitive side which I think helped fueled my dedication in completing this project! At one point I was training for a marathon, running races each weekend, working full-time and still managing to post an image a day. Depsite the fact that my brain was being pulled in so many different directions, I felt inspired (I thrive in chaos, which you’d know if you saw my desk) and I loved the challenge of meeting all my goals.
I really appreciated the opportunity in the last year to get a chance to share my views, my imagination, my passions, my anger, my fears, my goals. I tried not to take myself too seriously and to have fun (which didn’t always happen!) and I really just wanted to put a tiny footprint in the world, a little chapter of hope, peace, love into the big world book. A 365 project is a chance to write a story, give a glimpse into a year of your life and begin a story that doesn’t necessarily have an ending.
I can say with almost certainty that I won’t do another 365 project, I feel that the need to post an image everyday has passed and that I want to work on a slower pace to create my images. There were a few frenzied days where I literally ran home from work, torpedoed through the house to gather my stuff and sprinted out into the wood to work on getting the images I had in my head, I won’t miss those days of feeling like time was running out and I was scrambling to finish on time (reminded me of waiting until the last-minute to write an essay!) I am looking forward to working on new projects, I have a few ideas for some series of images, and I am hoping to start a 52 week project in the new year which will give me an opportunity to keep a schedule. I know that the book is long and that this 365 was just a chapter and there are many more to follow.
With all that said, I really appreciate and I’m humbled by the support that I’ve been given by you through flickr, facebook and now this blog. You make it easier to stay committed to this and to challenge myself. I am inspired by your kindness, your passions, and your art.