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You, at the Beginning

One of my first successful shots, pre-digital.
One of my first successful shots, pre-digital.

I am the type of mom who pulls out my phone to take a picture in a breathless moment before everyone runs out the door on the first day of school. I do not make signs or cute props. Mostly I pray for an almost smile and that the kids won’t be late because I forgot this was something I was supposed to do.

If I knew that, as an adult, a picture of me at the beginning of anything new was required, well, I probably wouldn’t ever start anything new. I like being the photographer. I don’t like pictures of myself.

On that point, I also prefer candid shots of people, any people, my kid-type people included.

I don’t get out my camera as often as I should, much like I don’t get out any of my toys. (Peaches, my banjo, plucks a hearty “she ain’t kidding” to that.)

I’ve spent a year working, but forgetting to enjoy myself. I’ve been planning myself into a daily coma, but not getting anything done. So I decided to press “print” on a couple of the lists I pinned on Pinterest on days when I fooled myself into thinking that planning equals playing. One of those lists is for a Project 52.

Project 52, or, for the more ambitious, Project 365, is a photographer’s version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The clear numerical exception is that it lasts all year long.

I’m still coming to terms with photography in the digital age. I love the power and portability of my phone’s camera, to be sure, but my first tastes of photography as an art form came in college as part of my Fine Arts minor. I earned this minor accidentally. I realized my junior year that I had filled all of my extra credit hours with art classes and just kept going at it after that.

Photography was one of the only two art classes I took more than once. I was enamored with the quiet and the texture I saw in black and white photography. I still am.

Sunday afternoons during those last semesters were spent in the solitude of the darkroom. It was a great day to be there. Weekdays were crowded, buzzing, but on Sundays I could move between my station and the long row of tubs that lined the center of the room at my own pace, which is slow, and calculated.

contact sheet

I loved the smell of the chemicals, the dark resting around me like an understanding between friends.

Standing over those large tubs, I could watch as the papers, kept sealed in their own foil liners until I was ready to expose them, unchained for me the images I had captured, unsure in my novice just what I had managed to cage.

When cameras went digital, there was no film to waste, but there was also not much intention in the capture. I ran rampant through SD cards and batteries.

There is no darkroom, no quiet. There is just another reason to sit down at my computer and click.

Still, I haven’t been able to shake off the curiosity of how the world might look from an angle I certainly wouldn’t kneel to without a camera in my hand.

This week, being the first week of the year, I began my Project 52.

I looked at my list, and hung my head.

You, at the beginning.

With a little box to check off right next to it.

I had given the list a cursory glance before printing it out, but had not looked at the first or last numbers. The last week? Oh, you clever thinker, that’s right. You, at the end. I’ll get there.

For now, I, at the beginning, was wondering if I should just print out a different list. Ahem.

Instead I rolled my eyes at myself, much in the way I do behind my son’s back when he gives me an excuse for why he isn’t just sucking it up and getting something done.

I would have preferred to go outside to take pictures. But on the day I had set aside time to accomplish this unsavory task it was windy and chilly, enough so that earlier that day when I took my dog out my wet hair froze solid. A bit of a shame I couldn’t take the picture then.

So, trying not to feel sheepish in my own home, I set up my space, pulled out my camera, and, determined to be bolder in private than I am in public, looked straight down the lens.

Me, at the beginning.
Me, at the beginning.

I, at the beginning, am still determined.

More thoughts about photography: A Frame for the Kneeling.

I found my Project 52 list on Pinterest, but it was originally developed by Kayla Clark, and can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/southbound_/11580298414/

Kayla Clark’s flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/photos/southbound_/