Photo a Day Challenge:
5 Things I've Learned So Far
2022, I see you.
A camera lens is a remarkable invention. It gives its user an opportunity to look at life one degree removed. Consequently, looking through it every day has granted me nuggets of wisdom I wasn't even looking for. And that perspective is a blessing, because this year is noteworthy in more ways than one.
My husband Corey and I have never been people who placed much stock in standing still. If you don't grow, you wither. Like trees being pruned or silver being smelt, a person grows most through the times that stretch us.
Both of our families were in the military. By time I was 19, I had lived in 15 different places across America and the UK. Corey holds an even higher home count that spans from America to Guam, to Portugal, and Iceland. With that came experiencing different cultures and adjusting each time the Air Force said "go."
As you may imagine, our spending the last 15 years in one small town was the polar opposite of experiences. With change in our blood, we made the most of our time by flipping a few homes, starting a couple businesses, enjoying extended family, and getting to know wonderful friends who became family.
We took delight in periods of rest, but knew that it was for rejuvenation, not residency. Our next season was calling us on, and we eagerly anticipated it.
Leading the Next Generation
Our kids have been told to embrace change so many times I'm sure they could pass out from boredom. Unlike their parents, they had lived in the same town and known the same people their entire lives. Their attitudes were running towards permanent comfort and their world was shrinking.
When you move constantly, you have to show up for yourself and others more than the average bear. Life keeps hitting the reset button on all things familiar. You learn to push beyond your comfort zone and to be adventurous.
We wanted our boys to experience this aspect of life. As parents, we feel tremendous responsibility to steward this mindset in our kids.
What does this have to do with a photo challenge?
Not to worry, I'm getting to that.
After knocking for over two years, the right doors starting to open for us. Corey accepted a new job 1,800 miles away in Houston, Texas. We packed up our family and put our businesses on hold. With faith, we hit the road to that great unknown land--THE SOUTH.
The stage was set for a remarkable year. And just as it so happens, it was the year that I stepped up for my first ever 365 Photo a Day Challenge.
5 Things I Have Learned So Far
In early 2021, I had stumbled upon Michelle McKay's precious online community. These fellow storytellers lit a creative fire in my belly. (To see what I'm talking about, click the button below.)
Like them, I would undertake the task of documenting the ordinary life of my family. The method was simple: take a single photo taken every day for a year. It seemed straightforward enough.
What started as a mere creative project has turned into an a full out chronical, coping mechanism, and my own bountiful source of that prized character trait--GROWTH.
Let me tell you 5 things I have learned so far...
#1 Perfectionism is the killer of joy.
I love this photo. I love the impish look on my son's face as he delivers yet another corny joke. I love my husband's smile that says, "You're ridiculous, man." It's a perfect snapshot of their goofy relationship.
But, believe it or not, I have to make myself love this photo. The more time I spend learning about photography, the more flaws I see in my own work. I look at this image and see the focus is off, the shutter speed was too low, and the rule of thirds just isn't there.
Missing the mark can easily have me missing the joy. If I can make the connection between the two, I can give myself permission to fail and to simply enjoy.
#2 The need to know our story is deep.
Again and again, I remember asking my parents to tell me stories of from I was too little to remember. Those who were older than me held the keys to who I am and where I came from.
My sons want to spend hours watching old videos and sifting through photos. At the table, we play "remember when" as we eat our dinner. When I started this project, I knew I was creating something special. However, I didn't realize how humbled I'd be by my family's reception of it.
With our big move, the memories I have captured have been an anchor for these guys; especially on the hard days. The good and the bad--it's the part of the tale they will tell their kids. These photos keep the details fresh and the feelings close.
#3 I have found the best camera.
With so many models out there to choose from, how can we know what the best camera is? I've found the answer.
"The best camera is the one at hand." It's a bit cliche, but so true.
I far prefer my beloved DSLR with it's gorgeous lenses over my cell phone's camera. However, my "big camera" can be a bit cumbersome to bring out and about. As a result, I'd say a good 25% of my photos have been taken on my iPhone. It's proven to be a good friend, and I am so grateful that I have it at the ready in a purse or pocket.
Without it, I would have missed documenting my son's sick dance moves. This was his last dance of elementary school. Sniff. I'm fine.
#4 How to show up anyway.
Being "In the Zone" is such a thrill. Any artist can tell you, there's nothing like having that much inspiration and executing it beyond your expectations. Alas, I do not live on that mountaintop. I wish I did. Like many, I only get to visit it from time to time.
This daily photo challenge doesn't care if I'm feeling creative. It's forcing me to pick up my camera and show up despite my dry supply of inspiration.
Seeing this cycle of creative ebb and flow play out so often has helped me realize its okay to have dull days. I don't need to be so hard on myself when it's not there, and I really can show up anyway.
#5 I continue to surprise myself.
I refer to this in two ways.
Firstly, I surprise myself at what I am capable of creating. My notice of light, composition, and communicating emotion have grown leaps and bounds since January. There is no shortage of opportunity for practice and, wouldn't you know it, it's paying off.
Secondly, I surprise myself with my perspective now. I pay so much more attention to being in the moment. because I see the loveliness shouting through every activity of our day. Okay, maybe not EVERY activity (no thanks checking emails and chauffeuring kids) but MANY MORE moments than I ever noticed before.
Through this project, I am getting to know myself and the process of growth even better.
If I had known how much this Photo A Day Project would stretch me, I don't know that I would have even started. But I don't regret it for a second. Whether sought after or not, we know the hard things can be embraced. Like me, you'll be surprised at what you learn and pretty amazed at how you grow. :)