I have, as I’m sure many people do, a problem with commitment.
I love starting new projects, looking ahead and dreaming of new ideas. It’s that glow of possibility that gets me; it’s the same root from which stems my passion for travel; my love of airports and train stations; the thrill that grows when a new move is on the horizon: possibility, what’s next, a greater future, the unknown.
But sticking to it, doing the work, digging in, well that’s about the here and now. It’s mundane, and regular, and lacking in the electricity of the possible.
I’ve started a myriad of photography projects. So many that I’ve lost count. But there are hardly any that I’ve really seen to fruition.
But I’m starting another one. A photo a day for a year plus a couple of months, from now until our new baby’s first birthday.
I’ve done 365 projects before. But as always, I loose interest as the work becomes quotidian, I falter under the weight of the ordinary, and concede defeat. For a while I thought I just wasn’t cut out for this sort of daily practice, that I did’t have the discipline (perhaps that is true.) But also, I found that many of my images while doing a project such as this were ordinary themselves, uninteresting, and nothing as special as the masterpieces I see floating around the realms of photography Facebook. I got discouraged by their very ordinariness, the work would feel aimless and unproductive.
The problem was this: I told myself that I needed to shoot inspired artistic images. I told myself that I needed to share daily on Facebook to boost engagement and create a following. I told myself that I needed to shoot for documentation and prosperity, that I needed to remember each and every day of my dear ones’ childhoods.
But I’ve come to see that I was looking at this from a perspective that wasn’t helpful. In fact, those were the opinions of others that I had adopted, like a costume that didn’t fit. I didn’t actually believe my own narrative.
Deep down, I’m not of the opinion that I need to document every moment. Some will live in my memory, some beautiful golden remembrances will fade and be lost to time, and some will be preserved on my hard drive. And that’s the way it goes.
I don’t want to really engage with social media every day in pursuit of an empire. I don’t want to post daily. I don’t want to measure my worth by likes and clicks. Sometimes I’d rather crawl into bed with the kids and read books and fall asleep at an embarrassingly early hour.
But I do want to practice. I need to practice. I feel, with my camera, still a journeyman, and I need rigorous practice to become a master.
It’s true, I don’t think I’m really able to make an inspired work of art every damn day. But I don’t need this to be art. This needs to be practice. Like a musician playing the scales: routine, rote, practice. I need to shoot every day, working on a specific skill, over and over and over again until it’s muscle memory. I need to bring my fingers to my shutter button daily as the pianist brings her fingers to the keys. I need to do a 365 to practice. Especially since I’m going to be taking leave for growing and birthing and feeding a baby. If I’m not shooting, my battery will drain and dust will settle.
So, I’m going to practice. I’m going to dig in and give this weight and importance. I’m going to make it a priority. And somedays I’ll play a beautiful sonata, but some days it will be scales over and over and over. I might post some here. I might not. But I hope by the end of a year I’ll have grown.