Second Time Around

In Film, Inspiration

During 2016 I did a 365, though it was actually a 366 because it was a leap year! It was the second time I’ve done one, and I took a different approach from the previous time, in 2014. Back then the theme of my 365 was Tri-X film: I took a picture every day using different kinds of Tri-X (35mm, medium format/120 and sheet film/5×4) in a range of cameras. For my second time around the theme was black-and-white, and all shot with a single camera and a single lens: my newly acquired Leica M6, with a 35mm f/2 lens. Doing a 365 was a way to force myself to use the camera every day, so I’d familiarise myself with it properly! I tried a range of different black-and-white films, including Tri-X, but also slower film (for bright summer light) and much faster film (for the dark days of winter).

As well as setting myself a slightly different challenge, I also had some things I wanted to do differently: lessons from my first time around, new things to try and things I wish I’d done differently in 2014 that I could remedy in 2016. I thought I’d write them down as a reminder to myself for next time I do a 365. They might also be helpful to you if you’re planning one, or doing one already!

MORE PORTRAITS
I wish I had taken more portraits the last time around, so I did a lot more of them this year. This relates to…

COMPARE THINGS FROM DIFFERENT YEARS
I wanted to shoot some pictures that were similar to last time, so I could compare people and places and see how they had changed.

TRY A DIFFERENT FOCAL LENGTH
My first 365 was shot mostly with a 50mm lens. This time around I was using a 35mm f/2 lens, which meant I couldn’t use close-ups and shallow depth of field as a compositional technique. Instead I had to stand back and take more of a street photography and storytelling kind of approach. This was an interesting challenge.

MORE SELFIES
I don’t like doing selfies, or indeed having my picture taken at all. But as I get older I wish I had more pictures of myself when I was younger, so I’ve been throwing in more selfies!

DON’T DO THE PROCESSING AT HOME
Last time my husband processed all the film for me at home, and I then scanned it in. This meant I could finish a roll and see the pictures within a few hours, which was great. But it also meant that I had to do a lot of scanning and (worse) dust removal and general cleaning up. This gets boring very quickly! So this time I sent all my film away for processing and scanning. Thank you Canadian Film Lab and Carmencita Film Lab!

And once I got to the end of my second 365 (or 366) I had some new lessons for next time.

HAVE A BACKUP
This time around I wanted to use the same camera throughout the year. But in February I realised my Leica had a light leak, so I had to send it away to be fixed. Fortunately the very lovely people at Red Dot Camera shop helped me out and let me borrow an identical body for a few weeks! Next time I’ll make sure I have a backup plan if technical problems arise!

TRY COLOUR NEXT TIME
Trying different film stock over a year is fun, but I’ve now tried lots of kinds of black-and-white film (I loved Kodak TMAX 100), so next time I’ll probably do colour instead. And possibly even colour transparency!

THINK ABOUT WHAT’S UNIQUE THAT YEAR
During 2016 I was aware that my son Miles would soon be changing school and I wouldn’t be walking to school with him any more in autumn 2017. In 2018 my daughter will leave home and go to university, so if I do a 365 next year, I’ll want to capture the end of her time living with us at home.

MAKE THE VIDEO
It’s a massive fiddle to turn my pictures into a video slideshow, and takes a whole day, so I almost didn’t do it. (Lining up the image changes with the music is particularly difficult.) But I’m always so glad when I’ve done it. It’s a lovely way to look back not just on the 365, but on the whole year. So I need to make sure I do it!

366 M6 from Kirstin Mckee on Vimeo.

KEEP IT QUIET
The second time around I kept my 365 a secret, which reduced the pressure and made it feel more like my own personal project. I like doing it that way. So if I do another one next year, I’ll probably keep it to myself until it’s all done.

Have you done a 365? What lessons would you offer yourself, or someone else, for the next one? Let us know in the comments.

kirstin

8 Comments

  1. Did you restrict yourself to taking just one picture a day or did you take a few just in case? also, where did you buy your M6 from? thanks so much

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your project! I just completed my first 365 Project on February 28, 2017, and am now in the midst of a month long break. I love your notion of keeping your project secret, just for yourself, as a means of taking the pressure off. And I also love your video of the entire year – so beautiful! In these restful days, I’ve wondered what I might do next, which direction I will take, but seeing your photos I know for sure, I don’t want to stop. There is a whole world of art and creative people like you and I long to be a part of this place.

  3. Love this, Kirstin. I did a 365 many years ago (https://www.flickr.com/photos/shewee/albums/72157613163655089) and that’s pretty much how I learned that I loved photography. I treasure those early photographs, when I was discovering what my simple point-and-shoot could do and learning what I liked to photograph. I’m doing another one this year as an exercise in pausing everyday to look around me. I also used it as a way to (finally) get into instagram 🙂 It’s been fun and I’m grateful for the joy I’ve experienced from simply stopping to experience my life every day. My one advice is to keep it simple, whatever that means for you. For me, this time around, it’s meant using the camera I always have on me – my phone.

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