Back in the Spring I talked about the beginnings of my 365 project and now here we are in December and my little project’s waning days. This was not the first 365 that I’ve started but it is the first one that has gone the distance and, as many of us are wont to do at this time of year, I’m reflecting a little on my experience.
Constraint is a good thing. This is not a new idea. Kirstin had black and white film, Staci Lee has her sink, Holly has her coffee mug and Meghan had instant film self-portraits. The parameters for my project were simple: Choose a tarot card, style it with whatever is at hand, shoot it with my iPhone and Instagram it. For me, this was just the right balance between constraint and flexibility. In the past, without a core theme for my 365 I could be so overwhelmed by the possibilities for a shot that it just seemed like too much work. Having the tarot card as the core of each photo meant that I had an anchor.
A little accountability helps. My project was public from the beginning since I share every shot on Instagram. My followers noticed it was a series and the thought that they’d also notice if it abruptly ended helped push me through some less inspired days.
Being kind to yourself is essential. Perfectionist tendencies? Inner critics? Check and check but in the first days of my project I told myself that I was going to play this thing by my rules. Yes, this was going to be a daily practice but I was going to allow that some photos would be better than others and that missing a day was better than putting up a truly horrible photo just to tick the box.
So is having a plan for the autumn. When I started the project in the dark days of January I was shooting in the morning, just before I left for work. As the summer came around though, I started shooting in the lovely evening light, often using whatever I was cooking for dinner as props. When autumn hit and the clocks changed back to standard time I wasn’t prepared to change my habits. I lost three days because it was dark by the time I got home at the end of the day and I didn’t feel I could make anything beautiful in the artificial light.
Seeing them all together is pretty great. I used #dailycard2015 on Instagram and I really love being able to look back at them all. There are the days with the perfect light, the meals I remember, the trips I took and, yeah, a few shots thrown together after scanning my room to figure out just what the heck I was going to put in the picture that day. Most are fine, some I think are pretty great, and seeing them together makes me smile. I’m definitely going to make a book of my favourites once the year is up.
In the end, as December 31st nears and my project draws to a close, I’m really glad that I did it. Some days it felt inspiring and fulfilling and other days it felt like a pain in the a** but I really did enjoy it and I’m proud of myself for sticking it out. I have big plans for 2016, including cooking up another 365, which I’ll share in the new year. In the meantime, if you’re bringing a 365 to a close, congratulations! If you’re mid-365, you can do it! And if you’re thinking about a 365 for 2016, go for it! I think you’ll be glad that you did. For more 365 inspiration take a look at these Viewfinders posts.
** I’m often asked on Instagram about my tarot deck. It is from The Wild Unknown and it is truly beautiful.