Over the past year, I’ve aimed to shoot a good photo a day. I’ve missed five or so along the way for a variety of reasons – illness, too many other demands, laziness – and the photos have not always been good, but many are.
I’ve shot with two different iPhones, three different Canons and, most recently, an Olympus. There have been phases: exploring the effects of Hipstamatic and other iPhone apps, for instances, or shooting exclusively with a very wide angle lens. My camera has been to concerts and other events, but mostly it’s been on the streets, capturing people, architecture, signs, abstracts and whatever else caught my eye.
Shooting every day has been an incredibly good, and relatively painless, way to learn how my various cameras really work (and how digital photography really works). Exploring each of them has made all those dials and menus more or less fade into the background – most of the time, but not always –, so that I can concentrate on making the image.
It’s also been an adventure in seeing. Not just looking, but seeing what’s there. (This is the argument I have with those who mutter, “Put the camera down and pay attention to real life.” This is how I pay attention to real life.) I’ve come to enjoy walking around seeing juxtapositions, patterns, colours, people, scenes. Some days, it seems as though the pictures are presenting themselves. All I have to do is snap.
There are pictures I’ve missed, sometimes because I wasn’t ready when I should have been. And sometimes it was because my ability to shoot from the hip needs a lot of work, and I still quail at the idea of staring down a stranger through a camera lens. I’ve learned that about myself.
I don’t know if I’m a better photographer than I was at the start of the year, although the act of seeing and snapping over and over again, day after day, suggests I may be. Practice rarely makes perfect, but it does make better.
I don’t have the artistic vision of a Richard Koci Hernandez, whose challenge to photographers everywhere was the inspiration for my 2011 vision quest. But shooting every day has been inspiring, challenging and, above all, fun. As an exercise in creating, I highly recommend it.
Final note: My photos from the past year – not all of them, but the chosen many – are online at my Tumblr blog. There are 490 of them so far.