Why shoot a photo a day?
Turning 50 in 2018 needed a challenge and what better challenge for a photographer than to make sure you shoot at least one image every day throughout the year. A bit odd you might think for a professional to give themselves more work to do, but this year has been a brilliant learning experience in many ways. On top of the daily challenge which was started on 1 January, I added another couple of layers to the challenge by restricting myself to mono images and a 50mm lens (a Canon EF f/1.4 for those who are interested in technical specs). Choosing the 50mm was an almost purely arbitrary decision - a 50mm lens in my fiftieth year... what can I say? I like patterns and symmetry in words as well as images...
So what did I learn from shooting a Photo A Day in 2018?
The biggest shift for me this year has been "think more and shoot less". When shooting for clients one can end up with hundreds of files to process. I have become more efficient through this project; thinking more carefully and more quickly about each shot. The repetitive nature of a photo a day project definitely has an aspect of wax-on, wax-off about it (you need to know the original Karate Kid films to understand that idea). A concept which was emphasised even further when I met a Japanese Master Woodblock printer Motaharu Asaka at Rabley Drawing Centre on 14 May. His apprenticehip was over ten years - a lesson in perserverance and something us long-in-the-tooth and still-learning photographers can identify with.
Move your feet more.
Shooting with a prime lens was a bit of a change for me. Shooting PR and events photography often dictates the use of a zoom for speed and flexibility. The nifty-fifty has taught me to move more as well as think more. For instance, shooting people with the shorter focal length makes you engage more - you're definitely in the subject's space as shown below when I met some more masters; Swindon-based videographer Martin Parry at Swindon's Railway Village and renowned Magnum photographer Martin Parr at his foundation in Bristol where he accepted a copy of my book The End of The Pier Show into his library of British photography. I'd like to explore more intimate portraits in future.
A nifty-fifty is demanding.
Going back to using a 50mm lens has been brilliant. The creative opportunities it gives when shooting wide open for example are matched by the focusing challenges presented by the narrow depth of field in the same situation. Every shot involves being more engaged with the technical and creative process.
Inevitably there has been a repetition of themes throughout the year. This is despite trying to be as eclectic as possible in terms of subject and technique within the constraints of the project. I have thought about portraiture in more detail as mentioned already and landscapes have presented some dreamy results too.
But, most of all I have become fascinated with abstraction throughout the year and this will feature even more in next year's personal project. I feel there is much, much more to be explored at an ambiguous, macro level...
You can enjoy more of my 2018 Photo a Day project here and order prints too if any catch your eye:
And in the meantime here are the top nine biggest crowd-pleasers as enjoyed by my instagram friends and followers: