There is such irony in me writing a post entitled “Seeing 2020.” This is not because I’m not excited by a new year, but rather because actually seeing 20/20 is something I will never be able to do. I am legally blind; my vision is actually 20/200. That extra zero is only a good thing when it is added to your bank balance! With vision such as this, I am often asked how and why a chose photography as a hobby.
Many years ago I read an article about a young man who had cerebral palsy, which caused his hands to shake and made it difficult for him to securely hold things. He too had a passion for wanting to see the world through the lens of a camera. Through perseverance and some adaptive technology, he made it work for himself. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any other details of the article, including this young man’s name. What I remember is how it made me feel. It left me convinced that if he could overcome the challenges of camera shake, I could overcome my less than 20/20 vision. And so began my serious interest in photography.
As we all approach this year of taking a photo a day, there will be challenges and obstacles that we will each encounter along the way. Most of our lives are not perfect and even when things are rolling along smoothly, there still will be days that are far less than perfect. With a project like 365 Picture Today, much of the beauty and meaning comes from capturing those imperfections. Kids with dirty faces, fingerprints on the window, the sink full of dishes in the background, chipped nail polish, bad hair day - those things are all part of life. Your life. The life that you set out to document one day at a time when you committed to this project. Inevitably, those days when time is elusive, or when the creative spirit disappears and nothing feels photo worthy, will find us. We need to shoot through those days anyway. Pick up your camera and point it at something. Anything. And press the shutter. It’s funny how those “commitment” photos, the ones taken without much thought just so we don’t miss a day, often become some of the most poignant photos of the year. As you take your daily photos, keep in mind that you may not know one photo’s true meaning until far beyond the day you took it.
Another thing to remember is that a single photo is just a small part of a bigger thing. We are Seeing 2020, all of 2020. The photos that you take today, tomorrow, next month all work together like the chapters in a book to tell the story of your year. Each daily photo is a single brush stroke in what will become a the picture of our year.
I save my photos each day into the Collect app on my phone. This app gives you a calendar where you can save your photo as well as a place to add some journaling if you’d like. From the app, you can create a collage, video, or export your photos to print. Unfortunately, Collect is only available for iOS devices. For those of you that use other mobile platforms, search for a daily journal app that allows you to include both photos and text. To have all of your daily photos in one place that is easily accessible is helpful when you are feeling less than inspired. All you have to do is scroll through the photos of a month or two and you’ll realize the significance of what you are doing each day.
In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at, it’s what you see.” Whether you see 20/20 or 20/200 what we see is up to us. With open eyes, open minds, and open hearts, this project hopefully will help us each to see beauty and find something to celebrate each day.
Here’s to Seeing 2020!