Photo a Day Project

A few years ago a friend tagged me on social media to participate in a "5 day black and white photo challenge". I found that after the 5 days were over, I wanted to continue the project and got to day 59 before running out of steam. Since that time, my picture making efforts have centered mostly around bike rides, family vacations, and my kids' various sporting events. That being said, I'm not a winter bike rider, and vacations and game days are sometimes few and far between.

I thought it might be a good idea to begin a self-imposed photo a day challenge not only to increase the number of days on which I make a picture, but also to exercise my observational skills, and to put a newly acquired lens through its paces. As of January 22, I'm now 32 days into the effort and wanted to share some thoughts about the experience so far.

First, I learned that some standard compositional devices on which I relied in the past were not as interesting as I thought, and I realized I would pull them out when I couldn't think of another perspective to use for a shot.

For example, Day 2's photo, "Cinnamon Roll" is a simple top-down shot of a circular shape centered in the frame which, if you follow me on Instagram, is a composition you've seen me use a few times before with other food and beverage items and I think it's an effective device in that context, yet I don't think that it was as engaging when I used it with the frozen range ball I came across on a walk through the local golf course (Day 7).

Second, I became more committed to carrying my camera with me wherever I go. This is not always convenient. I don't have a top of the line camera phone so having my DSLR is paramount if I want to shoot in poor lighting conditions. I also don't want to tote my camera bag with me and luckily my DSLR fits in my winter coat pocket. We'll see what happens assuming I'm still engaged in this project come summertime.

"Day 15 - Willie's Window" was captured on the walk to my car after dinner at Snuffy's Malt Shop in Saint Paul, "Day 16 - Urban Hillbilly Quartet" was captured at the Dubliner Pub, "Day 27 - Island Sign" was captured from the DeLaSalle High School parking lot, and "Day 29 - Votives" was captured just before a Saturday evening mass at Saint Mark's Church in Saint Paul. Aside from the UHQ photo at the Dubliner, I normally wouldn't have brought my camera along to these locations.

Next, the project has forced me to use some photos that I would not have considered posting. They're not without some value and initially I considered some of them failures because they weren't a consciously chosen subject or planned shot. I either lacked a specific subject for the day or I was unable to fashion the image that I saw in my mind when thinking about a concept for the day.

"Day 31 - Mechanicals" was shot after getting home from a late evening work event. Nothing caught my eye before arriving home, so I wandered around the house until I found an arrangement of something that I felt was worthy of a post and "Day 14 - Weight for it" was not my original planned composition for the weights racked in my office fitness center.

Lastly, the project has forced me to think about what I really like and want to shoot. I've always been fascinated with the way that people engage with each other in various activities, and with the way that individuals engage with their environments. This project has helped me capture more examples of that and has also helped me determine which compositional interactions are the most interesting to me.

The photos below are some of my favorites, because they illustrate what I enjoy most about taking pictures - capturing a single instance of the myriad number of interactions between individuals actively engaged in activities, with others or without. I'm selecting a particular moment for emphasis - but it is only a moment, the story continues on well after I am done.

View all the images in the gallery by clicking here.

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