And here we are! Welcome April!
This month we will cross the hundred mark - the hundredth day of 2020 and for many of us the hundredth daily photo of the year. By this point in the process you are probably starting to notice things about how you are relating to this project and its process.
We now have an adequate collection of photos to begin seeing recognizable patterns surrounding our favorite subjects, preferences for a certain lens, a fondness for shooting at certain times of day and in certain places, the intentional creation of a particular emotions or moods in our images, and the subtle (or perhaps not so subtle) messages that we hope to convey with our photos. All of these things come together to inform our personal style. They, however, are not the only factors,
Whether we like to admit it or not, seemingly negative elements also contribute to making us the photographers that we are. How we respond in our daily photos to lack of time, lack of physical energy, lack of creative energy, or lack of inspiration is where our true colors shine through.
One of the most profound books that I have ever read, one that touched me deep at my core, is After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, by Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. In the opening to this book, Kornfield writes, “Unbounded freedom and joy...these experiences are more common than we know and not far away. There is one further truth, however: They don’t last...”. What does that mean to us as every day photographers? It means that on some days, we are going to take a photo that are everything we want it to be. It will be perfectly composed, perfectly exposed, and express all that we were feeling at the moment we snapped the shutter. On such days, we will live in photographer’s ecstasy. Then there will be other days, most days, when that perfection is not, can not, be achieved for whatever reason. On those days, we are left to “do the laundry,” to realize the sacred in the mundane, to embrace the beauty of imperfection. Later in the book, Kornfield says, “The most frequent entryway to the sacred is our own suffering and dissatisfaction.” Don’t get me wrong; I am not saying that you need to “suffer” as part of taking a photo a day, but a little dissatisfaction may be the best thing to push you to the next level of your photographic journey.
Next time you are tempted to skip a day of taking your photo because you don’t think you have time, you just aren’t feeling it, the prompt doesn’t speak to you; or, it is easier to go to your archives because you know that you took a “perfect” photo for the prompt in the past, resist! That day is laundry day. Do your laundry! Challenge yourself to find something about that day to photograph. Remember that the ecstasy will be much more enjoyable when we have clean clothes!
In all seriousness, EVERY photo we take, not just the “good” ones helps us to grow as photographers and leads us toward creating our own personal style. That makes every push of the shutter important in some way. It’s up to us to discover that importance. Push yourself to think outside the box. Learn to embrace imperfection and grow from dissatisfaction. Look for the beauty in the mundane.
And, know that this community is here to support you, nurture you, and love you every step of the way...especially on those days where you feel like you are buried beneath ten loads of laundry!
Here’s to the next hundred days!