Another month down! I knew February would be a challenging month for my photo-a-day project. In January, I had lots of activities scheduled, and I saw lots of people. In February, I knew I’d be in my office and at home a lot, which meant fewer organic picture-taking opportunities.
A few weeks ago, I was updating Alison Lin, a colleague and fellow photography enthusiast, about my difficulties with the project. She nodded and said, “You’re exercising your muscles around letting go of perfection.” I found that articulation super helpful. As much as I had been talking about practice, I had been putting a tremendous amount of unrealistic pressure on myself to achieve a certain standard.
That pressure was counter-productive. As my friend, Sarah, told me recently, these kinds of projects are valuable because of the structure they provide. Some days, you’re not going to take good pictures, but what matters is that you’re doing it every day. Furthermore, every photo is a learning opportunity.
I’ve been consciously trying to shift my attitude ever since.
After I spoke with Alison, I found myself sitting in my coffee shop, having taken zero photos that day, wondering what I should photograph, and thinking about her words. I started going through my feed reader, and ran across a blog post that my friend, Amy Wu, had just published. To my surprise and pleasure, she had used one of my pictures. I didn’t have my camera on me, so I used my phone to capture the moment.
The resulting picture wasn’t very good, but choosing and posting it made me realize some simple things I could have done to have improved it. It also let me tell a story of something nice that had happened that day. Most importantly, it’s lowered the stress of the project ever since.
I’m not as worried about posting great pictures every day. That was never the point. Stay focused on my goal (storytelling), do my best, take a picture and post it everyday, and learn something in the process. No one’s grading me on this project. I’m not practicing to become a professional. No one is going to think any less of me if I post a mediocre picture. This is not that hard… if I maintain the right attitude.
I had to send my camera in for some minor repairs this month, and because of some misunderstandings, I ended up going half the month without it. My friend, Justin, loaned me his Fuji X-T1 (arguably a better camera than my beloved Olympus OM-D E-M5) and two tremendous lenses, including a wider lens (equivalent to 21mm on a full-frame) than any that I own.
I had some discomfort with using a foreign tool, but I tried to maintain a positive attitude by using it as an opportunity to experiment with some capabilities that I didn’t have with my usual camera. Specifically, I tried to leverage the bigger sensor for more night shots and the wider lens. Taking wide shots for storytelling is definitely a weakness, and it’s something I want to continue practicing.
I didn’t see as many people I knew this past month, and the numbers reflected that (11 photos with people I knew versus 22 in January). I’ve had a few friends tell me very clearly that they wanted to make it into the project, which I’ve enjoyed. I’m sure they’ll make it in eventually.
I had one particularly hard day when I worked a ton, I hadn’t taken any pictures, and I was exhausted. I was going to just take a picture of the beer I was drinking as I was mindlessly watching Netflix. But my sister encouraged me to get out of the house, so I decided to head up to the nearby Legion of Honor to play with some long-exposure night shots. It was foggy that night, and I thought I would get some cool effects, but the fog disappeared by the time I arrived. I decided to play with putting myself in the shot.
I had a super fun time that evening. I never would have gotten out of the house if I weren’t working on this project.
Here are a few other shots from February that I liked:
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