A month has passed and my 365 project is still alive and kicking, with the most suprizing thought being that 1/12 of 2016 has already gone by (I have the photos to prove it...).
In the last post related to this project I talked about some of the difficulties I was facing a couple of weeks in, and about how they were affecting my work, but I think I can say, a month in, that while those obstacles remain quite real and present, my approach to the project has changed and become more balanced.
I still have to think ahead, I still need to carry my camera around everywhere I go and I am still pressed to get that daily shot, but things got easier, somehow.
Some behaviours have become automated, like those regarding having my gear ready to go at all times, so that means more energy and concentration are available for other things.
Shooting itself became easier. I used to stay out for hours, take tons of pics "just to be sure" and find myself roaming about looking for THAT killer subject that would make my day (often unable to find it), but things have changed slightly.
I still roam about for hours, but that is just me and what i do. On the other hand I have been coming home with a much smaller number of shots every day, and a higher ratio of "keepers" compared to before.
I now try not to take more than two shots of each subject, and I try to get one of those two right, possibly the first.
I have also noticed a change in the way I look at things. I might be overanalyzing myself and my project, here, but I have the feeling I am finally free from being a slave to interesting subjects and awesome conditions, and have gained enough knowledge, confidence with my gear and training to be able to look at something and choose how to shoot it, how to make it shine the way I like, and how to get a decent photo out of it, no matter how trivial the subject or how uninteresting the lighting is.
This is, obviously, to my taste, and I don't expect everyone to agree.
But that is, after all, the point. Photographers, lecturers and online experts are always talking about how one needs to find one's own voice and express it through photography, but that is much harder to do than it is to say.
It's not enough, in my experience, to simply pick a niche and work on it. That does not mean you are actually developing anything, it simply means you have chosen to limit the scope of your work, in hopes that concentrating efforts on one target will speed up the learning process.
You will probably get better faster if you do limit yourself, but will that really help your personal approach to photography as a way to communicate the things you want?
From what i have seen in this last month, but also taking into account my time taking pictures as a whole, I think not.
Your creative or expressive side, as a photographer does not need training (which is still fundamental, of course) as much as it needs to be born. It needs to pass from an embryotic stage to that of actual being that can then develop and grow, and this is not done by study or by theory, and is not an effortless task. It is done by assisting labor, with all the delays, hardship, discomfort and possibly pain, that labor entails.
It is very similar to Socrates' approach to being a midwife to truth through constant stimulation, a long and delicate approach to truth, which, if everything goes well, will generate a new understanding within who is subjected to it.
You do not come to the truth because of how much or what you studied, but because you accept truth to be born in you and follow through with the process.
My experience leads me to believe something similar happens with creativity or with one's need or desire to express things.
You can spend all your days looking for the best information and resources available, you can bury your nose in high ISO samples, millisecond autofocus performances, follow seminars on composition, on lighting, on gear and watch all the B&H Events and Masterclasses available on Youtube (I know I have), but if when you go out to shoot you cannot be assertive on what you want to achieve from the conditions you have to work with, if you can't leave your home with one lens and no tripod with confidence, because you KNOW you are in control of what you want, if you upload your hundreds of shots without any idea of what will appear on screen, then all that information isn't really doing anything for you, it's just clouding your judgement.
This 365 project, while still in its infancy, has helped me go through my photographic labor, it has made me concentrate on what I want to shoot and, ultimately, communicate. After just a month of living in symbiosis with my camera, I can finally say I feel photography has become more than a passion, a hobby or, possibly, a job. It is now a living and expressive part of me, and as such I don't need to constantly be thinking about it or training it, just as we do not need to think about walking, standing or riding a bike, in order to be able to do it.
Until now this has been the most amazing development that has come from this project, and it is one I really recommend to anyone who might be in a bit of a creative rut, feeling what they love to do is not yet an active part of them.
So, to sum up my first month of the project, it seems to be going quite well, and I suggest you all give something like this a try.
It might change your life...
As usual you can see my progress on the dedicated Flickr Album here:
Have a nice day everyone!