Reflect

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Fuji X-T20 | Lens (mm): 56 | ISO: 6400 | Aperture: 1.8 | Shutter: 1/80

365 days. 365 photographs. 365 journal entries.

I went back and re-read my first entry on January 1, 2018. My primary goal for the project was this: “I want to slow down every day and behold the beauty of God in the world around me.”

I can honestly say “mission accomplished.” This 365 photo project gave me a reason to behold the beauty all around me every day of 2018.

The Growth

This project was different from the one I did in 2011. I didn’t write journal entries, I only took photos and posted them. With the 2011 project, my photography skills grew a great deal. In 2018, I feel like my writing skills grew more than my photography. I didn’t set out to write every day but fell into a rhythm of doing it and rather enjoyed the discipline of daily writing. Even more, I enjoyed ending each entry with a statement of gratitude. Some days, when life was hard, that was the most difficult part. But there is always something to be grateful for and having to put it into words made me realize that all the more.

The Challenges

One of the biggest challenges I faced was the weather. Generally speaking, 2018 wasn’t a stellar year for outdoor photography.

We had a very long, very cold winter and by the second snowstorm at the end of April, I was ready to quit this project and move to Florida.

Summer wasn’t much better. It brought days of excessive heat and rain which wasn’t very inspiring.

Autumn of this year was one of the cloudiest on record. When you are someone who loves to play with light, days of cloudiness can be pretty depressing.

December was virtually snowless, leaving us with a brown, barren landscape right up until Christmas. Finding beauty seemed to get more difficult each day.

These past few months have also been extremely busy. Just keeping up with my work has been challenging enough, but having to take a photo every day (especially with the sun setting before 5pm) was an added stress. I was also sick twice, once I was so sick I could barely get out of bed. Those were difficult days.

The Blessings

Because of this project, I have a LOT more photos of my beloved pets than I would have had if I had not been out taking photos each day. Animal’s lives are short by comparison and I know I will look back on this year and be grateful for all the photos I have of them.

I bought a small mirrorless Fuji camera for this project and I used it for many of the photos. I adore this little camera and plan to keep using it. I’m even considering upgrading to the next model and adding a few more lenses. It’s a joy to use and the smaller size makes it easy to take on the go and still get high-quality photos.

Finally, some of the photos I took because of this project have been licensed and used by magazines and brands. So essentially, this project made me extra money. 😊

The Advice

If you are considering a 365 project, my biggest advice is to GO FOR IT! You WILL grow in your photography skills and at the end of the year, you will have a collection of photos documenting a year of your life. Here is my best advice for you:

  1. Challenge yourself to move beyond how you normally take photos. Try different angles, use a focal length you don’t normally care for, edit photos in a different style, allow yourself to stretch creatively.
  2. If possible, make a plan for what you plan to shoot each day, but then be flexible with your plan. Some days I would take a sunrise photo but the sunset was better.
  3. Know that late winter and late fall are the most challenging times to create images outside.
  4. Allow yourself to use your phone camera sometimes. I did and it helped on days when I didn’t want to drag out a big camera.
  5. If you think a full 365 might not be for you, here’s a neat article on Choosing a Photo Project You Can Commit to

The Next Project

A lot of people have asked if I am planning to keep this project going in 2019. The answer is no. While I enjoyed it, I’m a bit weary from the daily burden to take a great photo. I’m actually VERY EXCITED to be finished and wake up tomorrow free of the need to take a photo for the day.

But I am planning a project for 2019 and right now I’m calling it “12 Stories. Every month, I will plan a documentary photography project each month where I tell a horse-related story in 12 photos with light writing.

12 months, 12 photos, 12 stories.

The reason I am doing this new format instead is that I want to shift the focus away from telling MY story to telling meaningful stories about others through the medium of images and words (and possibly video). Soon, I will be putting out a call for ideas, but I’m not ready for that yet, so if you have an idea for a story, hold on to it for now!

Gratitude: I will end this blog post as I have ended all the others before it – with an expression of gratitude. I am grateful for every person who has encouraged and supported me in doing this project, especially my husband, Tracy.

ps. I will leave this blog up for a while, but the new project will be posted on my business blog at www.shelleypaulson.com/blog.

And with that, I bid you farewell!

…The End…

2 thoughts on “Reflect

  1. I hope you just hide this year-long blog from the public, as opposed to literally deleting it from existence. I just feel like there might be something you could do with it in the future. Unless it’s therapeutic to metaphorically burn all that writing by deleting it…like a journal in a bonfire. You’ll know what’s best. — Your 2019 journey will be fascinating!

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