31 Days of August
If, like me, you spend too much time on Facebook, Flickr or any of the numerous other social media websites then you'll probably be familiar with the concept of a 365 project which involves taking a photo a day over the course of a year.
During August I took part in a '31' challenge run by my local camera club, the rules of which were simple, take one photo every day in August… sounds simple right?
When I first heard about the challenge I was excited about all the creative possibilities and I looked forward to the start of August full of ideas and enthusiasm. It seemed to me that the project would be infintely more interesting if the 31 photos followed a theme or were connected in same way. All sorts of ideas were swirling around my (otherwise empty) head… taking every photo with my phone in a travelogue style, taking every photo from the same place at different times of day to show the changes the conditions made, using only one focal length, the list went on and I even started to consider doing more than one set.
Of course my grand plans didn't make it through the first week. This was going to be harder than it looked. Finding the time to indulge in such a creative project isn't always going to possible every single day of the month. Apart from annoyingly time consuming distractions like work to contend with, just remaining enthusiastic for 31 consecutive days come rain or shine is a challenge itself. So, the project soon became a matter of simply taking an interesting photo a day, hopefully a good one but often (the times, for example, when I realised halfway through the evening that I hadn't yet taken anything) any photo at all would do.
There were days, those when I had actually planned to do some photography, were I had plenty of images to choose from and the project was easy. Other days, when time was short and weather was grim it was no fun at all and the pressure to find the day's photo built. Everyone copes differently with pressure but I've never been at my most creative when stressed. This wasn't real pressure though, it's just for fun after all. So rather than being a burden it acted more as an incentive, a challenge to step out of my comfort zone and look around with an open mind.
So, as well as my usual landscapes, amongst other things I found inspiration in houses, hoses, sculptures, surfers, pets and puddles. Images I would not normally have taken, or if I had they would never have seen the light of day. I found I could use the project as an excuse to indulge myself with the processing as well which was quite liberating.
So what was the point? Was this destined to be a futile exercise resulting in a collection of random and average photos? Well, yes and no. It certainly isn't a collection I would ever present to an RPS distinction panel but it is a set I'm reasonably proud of. It's a great way to get out of a rut, take the blinkers off and start seeing images in unexpected places. I love landscape photography for many reasons and there is plenty of scope for different approaches to the genre but it's all too easy to go on autopilot and stop seeing what's around you. Hopefully this project has helped steer me away from that danger but I'm glad it wasn't a 365.