art,  new york,  photography

365 Photos

I love challenges with deadlines, if my three completed Nanowrimo events last year weren’t a strong indicator of such unfortunate tendencies. I often pick them up on a whim, generally for no better reason than that I get bored a little too easily.

Read 30 books in a year? Scandalously easy. Alter my diet to some crazy version that makes baking an egg in an avocado seem like a reasonable breakfast choice? Sure. No problem.

By the end of the challenge, I always walk away with some new insight. After Whole 30, I learned that I like salt a whole lot more than cheese. My week long Fitbit challenges with total strangers take me to strange lengths — and down strange streets — out of determination not to let an Internet stranger win. (And when they inevitably do, I just decide that they must be nurses. Or perhaps, Olympic level race walkers. There can be no other explanation.) And, well, Nanowrimo, repeated about a dozen times, finally taught me how to write a novel.

I’ve even taken selfies.

So on January 2nd, without any planning or much thought, I decided to do another 365 photography challenge. The goal is to take a single photo every day for a full year, which sounds really simple. The last time I tried, I gave up in May, after nearly a hundred photographs. What got me in 2013 was that, like most people, my daily environment doesn’t change all that much. I go to work in the same neighborhood that I’ve worked in for the past eleven years. I come home on the same train and walk the same blocks to go to the same house nearly every day. I lost my inspiration.

But what I love about the 365 photography challenge is that it changes your perspective. With photography in mind, I see things that I would normally ignore. The first photograph I took, on January 2nd, was of a building decorated by seahorses sporting unicorn horns. I had walked past that building nearly every day for years without ever noticing that wonderfully nutty detail, but armed with a photography deadline, I finally noticed what had been in front of my eyes all that time.

Even if the photographs fail, it forces me to look around me with the eyes of an artist. I love that. And I’ve rediscovered Flikr, which is a hotbed of amazing photographers doing wonderful things. I can’t even pretend that my pictures stand up to much of what I see there, but being involved in thinking and talking about photography every day can only improve my work.

And, of course, since we are only 60 photographs in to the year, I am still filled with hope and ambition for completing it this time. It’s been six years and so much has changed. I am different, but also, my eye is different.


  • Marc Kuhn

    You are good at this, Mae, at inspiring. I wish I had been aware of this quirky challenge at the beginning of the year. But maybe I shall do a practice run for a month (March is upon us) and give it a full shot next January. I like its simplicity despite I sense complexity will be its outcome. I will attempt some feedback for you, if interested.
    Thanks again unordinary canary.

  • Marc Kuhn

    No, I am too compulsive. I have to have a pre-determined start/end dates, camera checked out, battery good, remember to take the card out of the mac and put it back into the camera…all that stuff. Pain in the butt, I know, but it works for me! BTW, I have a good friend who is an acknowledged “rock star” in the field architectural photography and she has taken upon herself (and her husband) to travel EVERY state and photograph it. She pledged 100,000 pictures, donated, copyright free to the Library of Congress. It’s a snapshot of America at the turn of this century. She is half way through…and anyone can go to the LOC files and help themselves free. I think you may enjoy seeing her stuff….google Carol Highsmith or This his America Foundation….okay, I’m done…have a Great Mae Day!

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