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?