30 Days Out (05/14/2014)

Call this blog "Project 365: Part II." The link to the photo gallery is here.

If you haven't read my previous blog, I've started my own personal Project: 365, where I take one photograph a day for 365 days. I'm not trying to be redundant here, but man, this project is so COOL. I wanted to post an update on how this is going and a few of the things I've picked up from this.

My camera and I are besties now.
This project has forced me to take my photo quality seriously. At first I was thinking that I couldn't carry my camera with me everywhere I go, but why not? I keep it discreetly in my bag until I've taken my photo for the day, at which point I can go ahead and leave it at home (unless I'm anticipating an upcoming event that day where some really killer shots can be taken). My iPhone will be a last resort if I absolutely don't have my camera on me, but that DSLR and fast-50 (50mm lens) are always within arm's reach. I love that I get to always experiment with my exposures, especially since I'm now shooting at f/1.2 most of the time.

I'm always wearing my Brand New Eyes.
In my previous blog entries, I've talked about wearing "brand new eyes," or having the conviction to see the world in a brand new way when photographing it, always looking for that new angle to view things or finding an element in something that most others don't see. When I have the freedom to photograph whatever and whenever I want, especially for this project, my Brand New Eyes are kicked into overdrive, actively seeking the exceptional elements of everyday life. The best part is that this bleeds through to life without the camera.

The bar has been raised.
I can only take so many photos of my cats or the things in my house. After a few weeks of this project starting, I was reviewing my photos and coming to the realization that I don't want to have 365 photos of the stuff in my living space. Since then, I've been actively photographing all the time (when I'm not at my other job, of course). I'm appreciating the beauty of everything in my hometown, and even being more active in the local photography community. I'm also seeking the work of others to help with my personal growth, to see how I can put my own touch on items or landmarks that have been "shot to death;" for example, the Sandia Mountains that are east of Albuquerque.

Gratification is a daily thing.
I try not to let my photos stack up prior to editing and uploading, so when I put that memory card into my computer and see the work I've done for the day, I feel that gratification that comes after achieving a goal. Things like this are a marathon, and when I know that there is daily progress being made, it only makes me want to see how much further it will go.

I see the good, the bad, and the ugly.
One thing I found about this project is that there's always stuff out there that's not pleasing to everyone, but is part of life, nonetheless. For example, when I was roaming the back alleys of Downtown Albuquerque a few weeks ago, I stumbled upon a homeless person's living quarters, complete with a hairbrush, cigarettes, and human feces on the wall. The other day, I also encountered a large moving truck with all sides bannered with huge photos of a 24-month-old aborted fetus, of which I captured a photo that this website will likely never see. I generally wont post items on this website or on Facebook that I feel are contradictory to the photography services I provide, but these are still photos that I will keep in my personal collection at home to remind me that life is life, no matter the spin I try to put on it with my lens.

It's not about me anymore.
The reason I used to exclusively photograph landscapes is because I'm an introvert by nature. Personally, to be a successful photographer, I have to be able to photograph sentient life, like people and animals, because there's so much beauty in it. Life is dynamic, it's always changing, always growing, always dying, and always moving. The best part about taking this approach to my recreational photography is that I extend myself to others and interact with them, raising the bar for the way that I approach and talk to others when I'm not "on the job." I get to hear stories and have a glimpse into the lives of others, making new friends along the way. I learn every day that photography isn't just the click of a shutter, but the instantaneous capture of a life moment that will never come again, no matter how the conditions line up in the universe.

I'll keep you posted on how this is coming along. Again, if you haven't given a project like Project: 365 a thought, my advice is to take that leap and commit to it. It doesn't have to be photography. It can be setting a goal to work on anything for a year, documenting your progress along the way. It's amazing how far a little bit of perspective can go.

Respectfully,
Matt