Here at the beginning of 2022, it’s a great time to think about your goals for the next year of your life. For many photographers a popular project that garners a lot of attention is the 365 photo project. The intent is to shoot a photo every day in hopes that it will increase your photographic creativity and that you will learn from the process. I believe this goal is noble, aspirational and likely to benefit some aspect of your photography.
Despite the many positive characteristics of a 365 photo project, I’ve never been drawn to it. If you know my backstory you would think that it would be a project tailor-made for me. As a runner that had a daily running streak of more than 3 years, I understand the draw to a daily commitment. The daily affirmation instills consistency with the added benefit of valuable lessons learned along the way.
For 2022 I’m interested in taking on a photo venture, but I’m not going to do a 365 photo project. I know from experience that forcing myself to do something on a daily basis leads to compromises, and doesn’t always end in good results. In my running streak, I didn’t become a better runner, but I did prove my dedication to the sport.
I don’t feel the need to prove my dedication to photography. I’ve been doing it for 35 years and I feel pretty confident about where photography is positioned in my life. However I do want to get out and shoot more than I have over the last two years, so I’ve decided to create a project that will fit my current lifestyle and achieve goals that are important to me.
I want a project that I will look forward to and that will lead me to creating better images, not just more images. To create the perfect project for me, I’m not going to focus on the results, I’m going to focus this project on the process of taking images.
My photo challenge is simply to embark on one photo venture per week. Preferably it would be a whole day dedicated to photography, but I’ll be realistic and accept a half-day if that’s what works with my schedule.
By focusing this goal more on the journey and less about the end result, I believe it will be more enjoyable and quite possibly more productive. If I end up averaging 1 good photo per week then I’d end the year with 52 good-quality images. I would see this a big win over 365 mediocre ones. Of course, each outing could result in many more quality images, and I’ll take that as a bonus should it come along.
This project is appealing to me because some days I’m just plain old busy with life, work and other stuff that needs to get done ASAP. By scheduling a day or at least a few hours, I’ll be able to work around the weather and fit it into my schedule with greater ease.
It’s true that necessity can be the mother of invention, and that forcing yourself to create an image every day will force creativity onto you in a unique way. I’m hoping that by giving myself time to explore and play with an idea, that it will lead me to a creative result different from the forced results method.
I know from the process of creating my photographic classes that when I have extra time to play with an idea I end up in places that I never planned on going. Some of my most valuable lessons in my classes came about because I had a kernel of an idea and I gave myself time to explore where it took me. The ample time allowed me to explore ideas that may have had an initial low probability of success. While this does lead to failure from time to time, it also leads to successes that may not be possible under a time deadline.
This project is not completely new to me, I actually tried to start this a couple of years ago in a more unofficial manor. It was working out pretty well then the pandemic hit and knocked the plan off the tracks. This time I feel that things are more under control and predictable and thus a good time to get back into the groove.
My Bonus Running Goal
For someone that rarely ever sets New Year’s resolutions, I have no idea why I feel the need to set a second one, but I’m going to do it. With my recent move to Issaquah, a small city on the outskirts of Seattle and nestled at the base of the Cascade mountain range, I’ve been exploring the area with my running. The immediate area around my home offers less than ideal running terrain with steep hills and housing projects with limited through streets.
To break up the monotony, I like to get out of the neighborhood for at least one run per week. The best opportunity to do so is on my traditional Sunday morning long run, typically 10 miles. The ideal Sunday run is on a soft surface avoiding traffic and cars as much as possible. With as little as a 15 minute drive there are numerous locations that can provide an ideal route. For the past year and a half I’ve been exploring the region, trying to find ideal 10-mile runs that feature: short driving distance, good parking, soft surfaces, scenic views and a traffic free environment.
I was already familiar with several locations before I moved in, but with additional exploring, I’ve come across many more. At first I thought I would be able to put a list of 10 good locations together and then just rotate my way through them. I then realized that I might identify 26 of them so that I would only have to repeat a run twice in one year. I now realize that with a little effort I should be able to run a unique 10-mile run every week for an entire year.
So that’s the goal: a unique and high quality Sunday long run, every week. There may be weeks that I’m traveling or injured that may interrupt the plan. I’m not going to worry about that now, I’ll just concentrate on my next long run and figure the rest out as I go along.
Join Me or Make Your Own Journey
If you’d like to join me in one or both of my 2022 journeys I welcome the virtual company. If you have a good idea that you’ve come up with, please share it here. I and everyone else would like to see more good ideas on how to exercise your creativity and increase your productivity.
Feel free to come back and leave an update to how your journey is going. I’m sure I’ll have an update to my story along the way and in a year’s time we can look back and see where our journeys have taken us.
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