This past week marks 2 years of daily photos.
I wanted to share a few things that I learned on this journey as well as some of the daily photos.
But first, let me just say that in the digital age, taking a photo every day isn’t really that big of a deal. Back in the day, 365 photo projects were rare (especially in the film days). Now people have 1000+ day snapchat streaks where they are (obviously) taking a photo every day. People are posting photos to social media on a daily basis.
So, with that being said, I’m not really celebrating the fact that I’ve stuck with this project, but rather focusing on the things I’ve learned and the personal growth I’ve had along the way.
What I Learned From 2 Years Of Daily Photos
I Hate Photography & Photography Is Stupid
That may sound counterintuitive coming from a self proclaimed photographer. But I believe you can both love & hate something at the same time. There are aspects of photography that I hate. I hate the kitschiness of photography. I hate how phone cameras & social media have cheapened photography. I hate how our culture has become numb to images, we scroll past breath taking images, double tap, and move on.
Maybe it’s not so much photography that I hate, but the position photography has taken in our culture. Regardless, I still LOVE photography. I’m more passionate about taking photos than I’ve ever been. In fact, I contemplated quitting my challenge after reaching the 2 year mark. But at the last minute—the final hour, I decided to pick up my camera and continue my daily practice.
Photography Is King
Photography is IMHO the best art form. Anyone can be a photographer. All it takes is a camera (digital or film) and a willingness to find beauty in the mundane.
Cameras Suck & Are Stupid Too
Over the past 2 years I’ve gone through a lot of cameras. I’ve broken cameras. I’ve bought cameras and then sold them because they were stupid. I’ve gotten rid of cameras and then realized that I made a huge mistake by selling them, and that I was stupid in doing so.
One of the challenges of my first year was to only use “real cameras”, but by my second year of daily photos I was using my camera phone.
Basically what it boils down to is how you are using the camera and what you are photographing—what you are seeing. Getting caught up in the weeds of camera gear, lenses, & megapixels is just a waste of time IMHO.
If you’re going to take photos then take them. That’s all that matters.
I Took A Lot Of Photos That Sucked
Two years of daily photos equals 731 images (365 + 365 + 1 Leap Day = 731 Days).
Of those 731 images, a lot of them sucked. That’s because you can’t take a good photo EVERY day. Some days I waited until the last minute before falling asleep to take a photo (ironically I made some of my best images at the last minute). Some days I was lazy. But every day, I took a moment to find something interesting to photograph. I was working that muscle. That’s all that matters in the end.
Ansel Adams said,
“Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.”
I wouldn’t say any of my images were significant on a large scale, but a few of my daily photos have been significant on a personal level. When I look back on my 2 years of daily photos, there are a handful that I’m proud of.
For me, that’s pretty good.
Mastering Photography Is A Joke
What does it mean to “master photography”? Who decides who is a master and who isn’t? It’s like saying “I’ve mastered the peanut butter & jelly sandwich”. Well, maybe you make a pretty good PB&J. But some people like cheese on theirs. Other people like pickles. Some people would prefer marshmallow cream over jelly. Those people are not my friends.
I say screw mastery. I want to approach photography like a kid who just picked up a camera—like a student learning about apertures. Mastery is stupid.
At this point in my life, I’m not concerned with mastering anything. Mastery means you’re done. I’m just getting started.
Action Is Everything
My daily practice isn’t about any one theme, subject, or thing. My practice is about action. It’s about taking the initiative to see. That is all. My art is the act of seeing & being present for a fraction of a second—every day.
Dogs Are Fun To Photograph
“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place…I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” —Elliott Erwitt
I love my dogs and I love photographing them over the years. It’s fun looking back on the images that have been created with the help of their paws or jowls as it were. Like one of my favorite photographers, Elliott Erwitt, dogs have been a continual form of inspiration in my daily practice.
Reality Is What We Make It
One thing this journey has taught me is that reality is subjective. What we see on the surface isn’t really all that’s there. If we pay attention to light, content, and form—an alternate reality begins to emerge. If we’re doing our jobs as photographers, then we can choose what our reality looks like.
Documenting My Life Is The Most Rewarding Art
I don’t care about where this journey takes me, how many books or prints I sell, how many followers I have online, how many consecutive days I can count. All that matters to me is being able to look back on my life and see that I was paying attention. For me the best ART are the memories I’ve captured. The moments with friends, the laughs, the crazy times, the scary times etc. This is why I’m the annoying guy who always has a camera. This is why I have become a walking cliche.
These moments are what make my art meaningful.
Cheers to year 3 of documenting life.
If you’re interested in following my daily practice I’m on instagram @timothymichaelphoto & the hashtag is #timmys365.
Check out my latest photo books & prints here.