I just have a few things to say as this project comes to a close. This has looked a lot different than I thought it would. As I look back over the year and at this project now in its entirety, I feel proud of what’s here and encouraged to keep taking pictures.
A while back I said I’d share why I was doing this, and I realize I never did. There were a few reasons. I wanted to improve my photography skills. I wanted to think creatively every day. I think this project has allowed me to do those things, but I’ve gained a lot from this experience that I wasn’t necessarily expecting.
There’s something about self portraits. When I consider other people’s portraits, I find it interesting to observe how the photographer chooses to portray his or herself. What does it tell me about the artist? For me, portraits were — and still definitely are — uncomfortable. I have to focus my camera without a subject and then jump in the frame once my timer is set. Once in front of the camera I am not sure what to do with my face, my hands, my body in general (which is I’m sure why, more often than not, I’m not looking at the camera in these pictures). There’s a weirdness about being your own subject day after day. It can feel self indulgent, maybe a little vain. But ultimately, I have to find the shot I want just as I would find the shot of any other subject I feel compelled to capture. I think it’s good to do things that make us a little uncomfortable, sometimes. This project has been an exercise in self-examination in some ways, and as awkward as it can be I think it’s been a good thing.
This year has also become about documentation. I feel like 2012 has become a time capsule. As I said before, this became a self-examination of sorts and I’m really thankful to have it documented. I can look back on these photos and remember not only what I did on a certain day, but also in many cases how I felt. Even on days that were nothing special, I appreciate that documentation. In a lot of ways, this project has changed how and why I take photos - or at least my thought behind it. It’s always been about preserving certain frames of life, but I feel now I’m a bit more selective with my shots. A bit more thoughtful of what it is exactly I want to capture.
I also want to acknowledge that there were many times that I was disappointed in how this project was going. I was often less than satisfied with my shot for the day. I consistently wished I had more time to devote to it, or more energy, or more interest. I sometimes knew the shot I wanted, could see it in my mind, but just couldn’t get it to be a reality. This frustrated me a lot. So as I look back, a part of me wishes the final product looked a little better, that there were more photos I was really happy with. But I also think I’m lucky to have even one photo I’m really proud of.
That leads me to my final thought, which is that the biggest blessing this project has been for me, surprisingly, has nothing to do with the artistry of it, but the discipline. I honestly can’t believe I did this. I can’t believe I took a photo of myself every single day for a year. When I decided to do it - on a whim, really - I knew it would be a huge undertaking. I don’t think I realized just how huge. But I can honestly say I am really really proud of myself for seeing this through. I’ve always been a goal oriented person. I like setting goals, I think they’re important. And so even if I can only hold up a few photos and say I’m proud of them, they mean even more to me knowing that I had to work every day for a year to get those. I’ve learned that artistry is more about discipline than inspiration.
So I consider the year a success. And I thank you for supporting me. I can’t say I’ll do anything like this again, but I am inspired to keep taking photos.
Though I will find myself a new subject. I’ve had quite enough of me for now.
Here’s to the new year.
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