In last week’s Photo Friday, I mentioned doing a self-portrait challenge during the month of May. Within the photography community, there’s something called Project 365, which is a resolution to take at least one photo every day for year. I considered doing Project 365 in 2012, but couldn’t quite commit. A few months later, I read this post about how Elsie Larson over at A Beautiful Mess did Project 365 with self-portraits.
Now, I couldn’t imagine taking a photo of myself every day for an entire year. Still, I liked the idea of a self-portrait challenge with a shorter duration. Photographers are notorious for never being in pictures themselves. Even with my complete amateur status, I notice that I’m usually photographing an event rather than being included in the photos. I also suffer from Disliking Pictures of Myself Syndrome. A month-long self-portrait project seemed like the perfect remedy to these problems.
After almost forgetting on the very first day, I really got into the spirit of the challenge. I took my camera on every single walk. Outdoor photography has always felt more comfortable to me, and pleasing backdrops are easier to come by if I leave my apartment. I sometimes felt, well, ridiculous. But I guess that’s the challenge in any kind of art: taking what you do seriously, even though other people might look at you funny. Almost all of my favorite self-portraits were taken in public, so I’m glad that I didn’t let self-consciousness get the better of me.
I gained a lot from the experience, most of it not even specific to self-portraits. The challenge motivated me to fit photography into my daily life. Some days I would have plenty of time to take a walk and find cool locations. Other days I would forget until right before bed, which forced me to get creative with the Hasty Bedroom Portrait. Some days were full of activity, so the camera would get thrown in my purse for self-portraits on the fly. Because the challenge required me to be flexible, the resulting photos feel like a genuine reflection of my life.
Taking photos every day also inspired me to become better acquainted with my camera. Although it has a wide variety of settings, there’s only a few that I use on a regular basis. This project gave me a chance to experiment without feeling rushed. By photographing myself, I learned about light and angles without the pressure of an audience. I especially loved playing with my camera’s timer, using the crooks of trees, stumps, and park benches as a tripod.
These photos are some of the less in-my-face examples. You can see other results of the project here and here. The last photo in this post will look suspiciously familiar because it became the new header for the blog. (I try to keep things fresh for you, Hypothetical Reader.) I would encourage anyone who wants to improve their photography to try a month-long challenge. It’s a manageable commitment, and you can learn a lot in 31 days!