In October 2009 I started a 52 weeks project of self portraits with my husband. They make me so happy, I’ve started doing this every couple of years or so. Here are my favorites from our first year.
2009 started out rough. What I remember most about the beginning of the year was how Shaun took care of me. My dad had just died and I felt very helpless and brokenhearted. Shaun spent a lot of the school break packing me and my cameras into the car and driving me to pretty places to distract me with photography, like he had perfectly intuited what I needed at that moment. The whole world felt different. I felt so broken, but also braver. My dad dying was (and still is) the worst thing that had ever happened in my life and I had faced it and my anxiety wasn’t so scary anymore. I spent some time wallowing in the groove on the couch created by my grief-stricken Lord of The Rings marathons, yes, but I came out stronger than ever. I also think my photography became more important, it had more purpose, I wanted to capture every single thing about my life, and preserve it forever.
I started my second 365 self portrait project on my 23rd birthday. I wrote more about 2008 on this post. I was feeling so inspired when I started this project. Then it became a strange conduit for grief. I was glad to have it, and I’m glad to have this record of one of the toughest year of my life, but it’s still hard to write about. I thought I was doing better than I was. In retrospect, most of what I remember of 2009 was napping on the couch, watching Fellowship of the Ring over and over, and crying.
2008 is a hard year to write about. We started the year at Disney World, and that was wonderful. I had just quit my job to focus on our home and my photography full time. In October my dad entered the hospital, he never left. On December 14, 2008, he died. Even before that, it had felt like a hard year, my anxiety was very bad.
Through all of this, I kept up a daily photo project, and in August, on my 23rd birthday, I started a 365 self portrait project as well (I’ll do a post about that in a bit.) I did them concurrently and didn’t miss a day of either project (though on hard days I did overlap and use one photo for both sets.) There was something therapeutic about creating something during this time, or anyway, it was a good distraction.
It’s hard for me to revisit some of these, but here are the highlights and milestones of 2008:
I started my first 365 self portrait set in 2007. Shaun and I had just moved into a house together in October of 2006 and gotten married on January 1st. I was still working as a janitor and I was super into baking vegan cupcakes and learning to sew, two things I only dabble in now, but my main interest was still photography. I had been shooting film I could barely afford for years, and while I did have a high end point and shoot digital camera, I was feeling increasingly limited by it. The battery life was frustrating. My world was full of rechargeable AAs. I started my 365 with an Olympus Camedia c5050z. It was a great camera, actually, but it was several years old at this point and no longer functioning reliably.
I saved up my pennies (for months!!) and bought a Canon Rebel xti in June, shortly after joining up with some very active flickr groups and discovering all of these amazing people doing 365 Days of self-portraits. I’m very grateful for everyone I met back then, on flickr, some of us have lost touch, but many of them are still dear friends!
That first year was more about learning what I could do and less about making what I wanted to make. I didn’t really click with following The Rules of photography. My favorite photos were always based on feelings and memories. But it was important to learn that stuff, to take what I liked, and needed, and bin the rest.
I took a lot of crappy pictures that year. I mean a lot. I have been trying to sort through them on an external hard drive and it was probably my most prolific year ever. You have to take a lot of pictures to get a good one when you’re still learning and I took at least 80,000 photos in 2007. I shared about 3,000 of them on flickr. I have since made a fair few of those private. The memories are good, though! Going back through and culling them, revisiting them with better editing software and skills, I have found lots of shots I’m glad I didn’t delete when I dismissed them initially.
Here are some favorites, and milestones, from the original set, as I originally shared them:
I’m going to start sharing these here one week at a time, starting, well, now!