Last December 31, 2016, I made the last minute decision to take a photo every day in the year 2017 (which is odd that I would do that because I do not normally make last minute decisions, especially one that would impact me for an entire year). I have seen other photographers take on this challenge, and I have always wanted to do this to grow my photography skills. This year seemed like the perfect year to try it out, so I did.
My rules that I set for myself was that I was going to take at least one photo everyday, and I was going to share that one photo on Facebook. About once a month, I allowed myself to post a picture that I did not take, but that I was in (but I only took advantage of this about 5 times--most of the pictures with me in them were actually self-timed photos that I took). I recognized that sometimes memories are more important than getting the photo myself.
I had a lot of fun taking photos every single day, but I certainly learned several things that I was not expecting. So here is my list of the observations that I made through 2017 because of my photo a day.
1. Before this year, I would often find myself behind the camera the entire time at certain events to the point that I had these great images; however, when I looked back at the event, I did not have the memories—only the photos. This year, I would pull out my camera, take a picture, be happy with my picture, and then put my camera away to enjoy the rest of the event. I got the photos with the memories.
2. Facebook Analytics—Now before I reveal my observations, please know that these are by no means able to draw conclusions about everyone. The population done is my group of friends, and I never posted the same image twice to see if I would get different results. So these are just observations, not statistical evidence.
A. Even if it was an absolutely beautiful photograph (say of a flower), I would get very few likes, if I had no caption.
B. However, a crummy photo followed by a deeply profound caption would get in the top like scoring photos.
I don't want my man to go viral as he demonstrates his love in some majestic never-before-thought-of way for a large audience; I want the everyday moments to show his love like holding my hand, washing the dishes, going on walks, enjoying a sunset, or going on a picnic where we listen, share, laugh, cry, and pray together. One day he'll come. For now though, I can use this day to pray for him and enjoy the treats and thoughtfulness of my students. 2/14/17
C. I did try once or twice a beautiful photo with a profound caption, and the results were pretty good though not exceptional.
D. Posting after 10:00pm, no matter how beautiful the image or meaningful the caption, would get me very few likes unless it had something to do with a significant life event like a birth or an engagement.
E. The best time to post is around 7:30pm.
F. Pictures of just me will get the most likes. Pictures of just one of my friends will reap many of her friends liking the photo. Conclusion= people like to see their friends in photos, but it is weird for them to like photos that include people they do not know. But with multiple friends that a person knows in the picture, you are guaranteed to get even more likes.
G. I began to wonder how much Facebook knows to show images that relate to certain people and withhold other images that seem of little importance to that person. Or do people see more than they let on? Hmmm…interesting...
H. My analytics were all thrown off on days when I posted multiple days because the images showed up as part of the album, not individual pictures.
I. There seems to be more active people on Instagram than on Facebook.
3. This year, I forced myself to do things and explore places. I had to because I did not want to take the same flower in my backyard over and over again (though I did take many backyard photographs). I got to see new parks, go on excursions, find local events, and organize events with my friends. And with that, I have a small moment from each day of this year recorded for years to come.
4. Sometimes an imperfect picture is beautiful because it captures a moment that can never happen again.
5. Though selfies are not the most beautiful photos ever taken, I understand their popularity. They are a quick reference to an event with all the people you were there with. Looking back at the selfies I took, I remember the conversations, the laughter, and the happiness from each encounter. And the people who view it like to see you having fun, not just taking photos.
6. Though I already knew this before, I love going on photo walks, especially I discovered when another photographer or friend joins me. Photo walks are relaxing and peaceful, and if you are with someone else, you get to know that person even better. And these walks always gave me something to look forward to while also knowing I would get fun shots there.
7. I learned different techniques of photography like night-time photography and different lighting. Again this was because I did not want the same photo every day, and during the winter months, the sun sets before I get home so I had to learn night-time photography.
8. Photography became the thing that I used to relax after teaching. Though I did include some teaching photos, most of the time, photography was the time that I did something completely unrelated to teaching. This is so important to have because it gave me a break and allowed me to relax. I would be more focused to get work done later in the evening.
9. During the month of November, I took on the grateful challenge. Each thing that I was grateful for coordinated with the picture that I took. It was a purposeful way to reflect on what I was grateful for that day and how I could show it through a photo. It was also special to have a month where I got to see almost everyone who is near and dear to my heart.
10. No matter the mood I was in or the day I had had, I came home and took my picture. Looking back, I can tell you how I was feeling that day. Many of the pictures reflected my mood even through little subtleties that only I would understand.
11. On days when I had people in my photos or I took the photo with them there, I was happier than on days when I just was by myself taking photos, especially when I got to photograph the small children in my life. Though I am an introvert, spending quality time with people is so valuable to me.
12. I noticed that people started looking forward to me showing up with my camera. In fact, one of my friends told that she heard I was coming over so put on make up because she knew I would have my camera.
13. On average, my shutter speed is usually 1/300 of a second. That means in one year, I have recorded about 1 full second of my life, and yet it feels like more because I captured memories. People feel like they know me better now because of these millisecond glimpses into my life.
14. I love photography. Yes, I knew that beforehand, but I understand even more now why I love it. It preserves memories and stories. And with my discovery of my love for photography, I began selling my photos on stock imaging sites and setting up opportunities for portraits. And to document it all, I have also begun my own blog (but you probably already realized that).
15. Thank you to each and everyone of you who were part of my album (and ultimately part of 2017). I know some of you did so more because I asked you to be in a photo than because of your eagerness to be photographed. You are all so special to me, and I pray that 2018 will continue the bonds and the memories created in 2017. You all made 2017 memorable! Thank you!
Also thank you to those of you who consistently liked most of my photos. (You know who you are! :D It was always fun to see your name pop up, and your faithfulness to liking my photos really encouraged me!)
16. I feel like I am going to be at a loss of what to do come 2018. I am not going to be doing a photo a day this year or as someone suggested a photo every hour for a year. I am though going to be more purposeful in setting time aside to take photos, whether setting up photography sessions or going on photo walks. So if you would be interested in setting up a photography session or go on a photo walk with me, please message me for details.
The discoveries that I have made about photography are worth continuing to pursue, are worth getting to know the people around me better, and are worth my time and energy.
So what lessons have you learned this year? What are your favorite 2017 memories?
Sometimes people are in one’s life for only a brief and important moment; other times, those people stay in the lives of those they have impacted. Reland is one of those people who has continued to be in my life.
On my very first day of college, I whispered to my sister, “I don’t feel like meeting new people today.”
“Girl, you better get over that real quick!” she comforted me.
I guess I did because that was the day that I met Reland. She was on my freshman hall, and though I did not click with anyone else on my hall, I became fast friends with Reland. In fact, the next year we became suitemates, and our final two years of college, we were roommates.
Reland is one of the most joyful people that I know. We are always laughing together or coming up with some silly skit or video together (which she will go all out for any costume she must wear). I value her opinion, and I always look forward to being able to spend time with her whenever we are able whether over coffee, cupcakes, or Christmas celebrations.
Through the years after college, we have continued to stay close friends through different and sometimes difficult stages of life. Earlier this month, I had the honor of being a part of her wedding shower where we got to celebrate her upcoming wedding. Because of her love for coffee, not only did we have coffee, but we also had chocolate coffee cupcakes. It’s been so much fun celebrating her engagement, and I am excited to celebrate the beginning of her marriage to Anthony in a few short days.
Through the years, photography has developed into a passion for me. As I shared in the My Story section, I began taking pictures around middle school. I loved taking my film to the developers and returning with hard-evidence of the stories that I shared with my friends and family. Photography was a way to preserve those memories so that I could look back and remember.
When my film camera died, I upgraded to a digital camera that had control of the settings. My brother was right beside me as he showed me the various settings and patiently explained how each one worked. Through lots of practice and lots of okay pictures and a high school photography class, I began to get the hang of it.
Through college, I had opportunities to practice with DSLR cameras because I could check them out from my college library just like I could check-out a book. I checked them out for special memory-making moments like Pancake House, where my Christian fellowship baked thousands of pancakes for the students on the last day of classes, or for graduation portraits of my friends.
However, I often (usually after a stressful week) would grab my camera (or check one out) and go on photo walks. A photo walk is where you take your camera and take pictures of the beauty that you run across. For me, this was often flowers, animals, and other natural spaces. As I came face-to-face with the little details, I thanked God for His beautiful creation. Through those walks, I learned more about who God is and the peace that He gives.
On December 31, 2016, I decided that a good goal for 2017 was to take a photo a day. I had seen other photographers do this, and I thought that this year would be a great year to do just that. I have had so much fun finding things or people to take photos of everyday. No matter what kind of day I have had, I find something to photograph.
It has allowed me to explore places so that I am not taking that same flower picture again and again. It has allowed me something completely unrelated to teaching. And it has better taught me my camera.
For me, each photo has a memory and a story attached. The smell of summer rain after a major thunderstorm. The laughter of my family. The bird that posed for me and sang me an entire aria. A memorable walk. A rainbow when I needed one. The day someone called me a professional photographer.
I realized from creating this 2017 album how much I enjoy photography, and I realized that I want to be able to share these memories and stories with others.
The beauty of nature and travel photography is that the story varies for different people. When I see a picture of a fire, I think of my summers spent at Triple R Ranch as a camp counselor creating sticky s'mores. Someone else might look at it and think of the family weekends spent sleeping in a tent. Someone else might look at it and see the power and fury that the fire contains. However, whatever story the image reveals to you, it means something to you.
The stories and the memories created from photographs are worth telling; that's why photography.
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What about you?