Friday, January 15, 2016

Photo 365 (366)

There’s something very special about the first month of the new year. It always feels like a blank slate, a chance to move on from whatever was holding you back last year, a promise of things to come, a whole year full of opportunities just waiting to happen.

It’s silly really because time is just a human construct and we could choose to start fresh on any given rotation of the sun but Jan 1st provides a marker point and the older I get, the faster those 365 (or 366 this year) rotations seems to disappear, so I really savour these first, ambitious days of January, when anything seems possible.

For the last few years I’ve completed a 365 photo project. The premise is simple; take a photo each and every day of the year and publish it.
I’ve read lots of blog pieces from the ‘put down your device’ naysayers who lament the way many of us view our lives through a lens. I actually find these quite amusing, especially the ones that bag social media and the internet – and yet the piece is published … on the internet! ‘Live in the moment’, ‘make memories, not videos’, etc, etc. But what is a photograph, if it’s not a memory? A memory that lives, not only in my rapidly deteriorating grey matter, but one that can be shared

My completed 365s are the ultimate photo album. Rather than taking you away from the moment, the discipline of taking at least one photo every day forces you to concentrate on the minutiae of daily life, to look for something memorable in every day, not just the ‘special’ occasions. For sure, my 365 shows me birthdays and victories and spectacular holiday moments but it also reminds me of the other glorious parts of my life; the first ripe plums on our trees, Spring heralding daffodils, sunsets, laughter, trivial, happy moments from the daily grind of teaching that would otherwise be lost. The 365 is like a gift to yourself because at the end you have a spectacular, chronicled, visual diary of your life.

I have tried posting my 365 projects in a few different places. Originally, I posted to the website. This is a great forum for photography because of the challenges they set and the support of other amateur photographers. The hard part is getting around to uploading your photos from the camera each week.

In 2015, I chose Instagram because it’s so easy to post on the run with my iPhone and because the phone saves Inta pics into one folder so they’re easy to see as a series.
Since my first go at this project, back in 2011, I’ve tried to up the challenge by applying a theme to each year’s photos. This makes it much harder. This year’s theme was #trysomethingnew and was more about me pushing my comfort zone than the actual photography. As a result, I’ve tried lots of new recipes and eaten things I’ve never tried before and I’ve pushed my own fear limits to climb to high places, including the Swiss Alps, the Eiffel Tower and the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Since I was holding my breath and closing my eyes for some of those experiences, it’s a good thing I have photographic evidence!
Instagram 2015 #trysomethingnew
One of my greatest regrets is that I didn’t start doing this earlier. I admire and envy the photographers who have chronicled their own or their children’s lives with daily or yearly photos. How amazing it must be to look back and reflect in that way. Still, regret is a wasted emotion so I’m determined to chronicle the back half of my life. Hopefully my grand children and great grand children will find it of historic amusement, if nothing else.

This year I’m going with Insta again (#thingsthatmakemehappy) but I’m also posting to a Flickr group (#2016 ) because they have very strict rules about posting on the same day as taking so it provides another level up in the challenge. I’m also hoping to integrate the 365 into my teaching with a #theresmoretomortlake tag for the kids to contribute to. From my dslr camera I’m going to put as much as possible onto as well. And then, I really want to do a portrait series because people are just so interesting!
Insta 2015 : #thingsthatmakemehappy

The hardest part is always choosing just one photo and that’s why I’m cheating by running different sites.

If you’ve never had a go at taking a photo a day, this is the year to try it.
Here are my top tips for a successful project:
- Take lots of photos and then edit each night on your phone/camera.
- Take a photo early in each day. You can always get a better one as the day progresses but there's nothing worse than getting to bed time and having nothing captured.
-Keep your originals in a 365 folder on your computer or a portable drive. Then if you want to print them at the end of the year, they're easy to find and in chronological order.
-Don't beat yourself up if you miss a day. With most sites you can cheat a bit by filling in the gaps with an extra from the day before or the day after - NB; not Flickr though - miss more than one day and you're out!
Flickr- 2016 one photo a day

- Choose a theme or go for a site that has weekly or monthly topic challenges. This definitely helps with motivation and inspiration. On 365 org you can even pair up with a mentor who will look at your photos and choose a challenge for you.

And if you do start a photo a day challenge this year, please add me on Instagram or wherever you post so that I can follow your adventures too.

365 org : Anne De Manser
Instagram: @kwaussies
Flickr : @Aannne

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Our poor, old dog, Jonah, didn't wake up this morning.
This was not unexpected, we've been expecting his demise for awhile now. He was heading for his 16th birthday and that's a long time for a labrador.

Jonah used to sleep downstairs in the porch with his best friend Nala, a mangy old moggy, (the by product of our promiscuous Maddy cat, who dropped a litter of kittens before she was old enough to be speyed). Nala was a crochety, wretch of a cat but she and Jonah had a wonderful companionship for their shared 15 years together. During the day they would sit on the front deck, guard the house and observe the world, then at night they would retire to their boudoir. A few weeks ago, Nala just disappeared and since then Jonah has been sleeping on the front lawn. I'm sure he's been looking for her and in the less scientific side of my mind, I like to think he's found her now.

We got Jonah around the same time we got married and in a sense he was a symbol and statement of hope for a relationship that most people (other than Geoff & I) didn't rate a chance to see the year out. What a shame no one was running a book on the odds on the long life of the dog and the marriage; we would have been rich!

We named the dog after the rugby great, Jonah Lomu. If he and Taine had been born the other way around, then I guess the dog's name would have been Taine.
Like most labs, Jonah had a pesky adolescence before becoming a calm, cool and gentle companion. He loved it when we moved to Waggs Lane because he was never chained up and never wandered. He was always happy to see us and liked nothing better than a walk around the block - although in recent years a stroll to the corner was enough to convince him he'd had enough exercise for the day.

We've been fretting about leaving Jonah to go on our annual beach holiday this year. Blessed with helpful friends, he has always been well looked after while we're away but for the past 3 or 4 holiday trips we've been worried he'd cark it while we were gone and he's a big dog. Geoff even thought about pre digging his grave but that seemed a bit presumptuous, even for an ancient creature like Jonah. This morning, he got to perform this last labour of love, with a little help from Taine who learnt a bit more about the cycle of life. It was a fitting tribute for a faithful companion.

In the end, Jonah's timing couldn't have been better. He got the last of the Christmas ham for lunch yesterday and when we got home late last night , his hopeful tail wagging told us he'd forgotten he'd already been fed, so Geoff gave him supper. As always, he waited patiently beside the bowl until he was told he could eat. And then he went back to the lawn to look for Nala.

And now he's gone.
Thanks for all your loving big fella.