Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Beginning

So, it all starts here!

Welcome to my 365 Project - a year of taking photos each and every day.

I know it's not technically New Year's anymore, but this project is a part of one of my resolutions for this year. Actually, I don't really feel comfortable calling what I did this year "resolutions"... they're more like goals and hopes that have come out of an intense period of quiet reflection. And they're not absolute courses with a regimented plan that I must follow. It's more that I've decided upon some paths that interest me, and that I'll follow as I can, allowing myself to amble leisurely as well as run, and extending forgiveness and gentleness to myself when I need it.

Last year (2009) was a pretty rock-bottom year for me in terms of creative outlets. And by that, I mean that I basically didn't have any - and didn't feel like I had the energy or time to create them. As someone who has always had ways to express myself creatively, especially through theatre, music, writing, and photography, I felt pretty dreary about the rest of life without those outlets. I was just down in the dumps. Funny how it all connects, isn't it? Granted, there were other issues that contributed to my despair, but I think a large part of my weariness last year (because my heart was just plain tired) was that I didn't have any way to process the "other stuff" going on. It just kept building up, and building up, and building up.... and then dragging, and dragging, and dragging me down.

But that's going to change.

For a few years now I've been wanting a digital SLR camera (DSLR). And by wanting, I mean drooling over. I had started saving up for one, but then I got married... and you know how that works. Suddenly "your" money isn't really yours anymore, and, well, there are more important and pressing things that that money gets to be used for. Like food. And rent. And toilet paper.

But! My dream came true last August when Josh (my husband) got my family and a few friends to all pitch in together for my "birthday" gift (it was also our anniversary gift and his own birthday present - he's so good to me) and they all gave me my first DSLR. I love it!

However, this is where that "no creative outlets in 2009" comes into play.

I LOVE my camera and take it practically everywhere. But since I received it, I've really only taken pictures for those somewhat "special" kinds of events... someone coming to visit, birthday parties, holiday gatherings with family, bridal showers, etc. While those are obviously pretty fun, I haven't spent as much time as I'd like intentionally working to become a better photographer. I'm often simply working to get the best shot I can - perhaps playing it safe with what I'm pretty sure will work, as opposed to fiddling with various camera settings or experimenting with the lighting. There really hasn't been much risk taking, and without risks, you don't really discover much. Instead of creating, it's been more just doing.

Enter this project.

Back in December I entered myself as an applicant for the SOAR! Scholarship. The Scholarship is intended to help women get their photography business off the ground by providing intense coaching, mentoring, equipment, and tools. (You can see my video here - I'm #235 on page 3 of the 2009 Applicants.) While I didn't receive one of this year's three scholarships, it really got me thinking about some of the "What ifs?" in my life. For the first time in a long time, I started thinking about possibilities I'd said no to, and tapping into some of my dreams, and wondering what might happen if I actually said yes to some of those.

While I am, of course, disappointed that I wasn't a recipient, I know that I don't have to worry, either. The timing is all in God's hands. Creating my video and submiting my application got me thinking specifically about what photography means to me, and how it can be manifested in my life NOW - as a creative outlet, as a source of joy, and as a way of giving to others, too. Even though I'm still working in education full-time, even though I've committed to living and working in the inner-city, even though there are a number of other things that "kept" me from doing this before... how can I use this gift to serve others, and also be built up myself right now? Thinking through those thoughts, submitting my video, and receiving a HUGE outpouring of support from family and friends has really given me a big push in getting out the door. I'm not quite sure where I'm going or how I'll get there, but I at least want to get started on the journey.

The 365 Project is actually an international project/organization that people usually start on January 1st and post directly to the 365 Project site. But I'm starting it now and I'm doing it a little differently by just posting directly to this blog. The idea and goal is to take and post at least one photo each day. I could probably get quite technical and legalistic and ALWAYS! WANT! TO POST! EXACTLY! ON! TIME!, but I'm going to let myself relax a little bit, do my best to stay on schedule, and just keep going when I fall behind (this is where that grace and gentleness come in). I have no idea what I'll be photographing... especially since I work during the day when it's actually light outside. But I guess I'll just have to get creative, maybe start taking some walks after lunch, and just find what I find.

Regardless of the exact details, I know one thing for sure: it's time for me to take the next step with photography. More importantly, it's time for me to allow myself to be creative again, and to play. Maybe I'll go fast, maybe I'll go slow, and maybe I'll do my typical sprint-walk style. But really, I just need to GO. I need to run and to discover, to laugh and to fall, to crawl and to cry, to climb and to soar. I need to return to a place where I give myself the freedom to explore these great gifts God's given me, to revel in the challenges of growing and changing and expressing, and to dance in the hard and wonderful beauty of life. 

I simply need to give this dream a try and see what happens.

So, thank you deeply for the support you've given me so far (since many of you reading this were those who knew about the SOAR! Scholarship), and I invite you to join in on the rest of this journey and see where it goes!

If you're interested in joining in with your own 365 Project, just leave a comment with a link to your blog, or email me and let me know!

(Jump to the top of the post)


Miah said...

I want to do this project!

Barb said...

Yeah! I can't wait for you to take me away....Love you, MOM

Ariah said...

Very cool.
Your inspiring me too. Won't be as good as your photos, but I want to take photos of my kids more. Here's to day 1 of 365...

Hannah said...

I'm so excited!

Miah, you and I have already talked. Look for a post this weekend!

Ariah, are you going to be posting any of your photos? I can't imagine better subjects :) Let me know if you want me to link to your site/blog/wherever you may put up pictures.

And Mom, maybe you guys should do a Family Week at some point... you, Dad, and Jacob can join forces and send us photos. I miss seeing what's going on :)

angero said...

Awesome, awesome! I found your blog through a mutual fried-Patye. I am doing a 365 project for many of the same reasons as you, so I look forward to following your journey! If you'd like to peruse mine, I am including a link to my 365 project set on Flickr:

Good luck and many well wishes! :)

Hannah said...

Angela - if you're a friend of Patye's, I'm sure you'd be a friend of mine if we met! I love your photos - perhaps I will actually (finally) have to sign up for a flickr account so I can leave some comments. I'm also definitely jealous of your lensbaby! You've got some really fantastic photos. I'm going to add you to my links, if you're alright with that :)