This is it! This was the last day of The 365 Day People Picture Project!
You don't even know where to start, when it's the end. When it's the end, you don't even know where to start. (Did you just catch that?)
I've been carrying around a heavy weight in my mind and the weight is getting heavier with each passing day. I've been feeling a huge responsibility to close the project with a beautifully written, meaningful, insightful, and inspiring blog post that summarized my experiences this past year. The weight and the pressure has been so intense, I've reached my shut-down point.
So, we're just going to take things nice and slow. This was a year-long project. It was an unreasonable expectation of myself to think that I could process everything mentally, write about it, and then share it with you in the span of just 6 days. Plus, this gives us more time together and I've really enjoyed spending time with you. I'll continue to share more about what I learned from this project in future posts. For now, meet our final subject.
Day 365, August 10th, 2014 - Halina and Baxter
This is Halina and Baxter. We met on a dock of McCuddy's Marina, near The Island Cafe. A year prior, August 11, 2013, I took my first picture for The 365 Day People Picture Project. I had no idea what I was doing, or about to do. I only knew one thing - I challenged myself to take a picture of a person, every day, for an entire year, and I was going to meet that challenge! I was determined to maintain a perfect year-long streak of taking a picture of a person, every day. The project started at Island Cafe, where my husband and I met for a belated birthday dinner with his family. My husband was the first subject. I love that the project ended, right where it began.
I asked Halina the happiest thing happening in her life right now, and she replied, "being single and being alive!"
A woman, who indulged in a very happy happy-hour, approached us as we were doing the "interview." She visited with us and showered Baxter with lovins.
With the Happy Hour Woman still there, I asked Halina if she had recently performed an act of kindness. Before Halina could give her answer, Happy Hour Woman made a declaration about Halina, "this lady is going to have a good future!" We laughed and talked a moment longer and then Halina answered the question, "we do every day without even knowing it."
Halina was attempting to explain that we don't realize that the smallest, easiest thing we can do for another person is to share a little kindness. We don't even realize that something as simple as sharing a smile with stranger, can have a significant impact, and at the very least, it is the start of a ripple of kindness. It can be the difference between a bad day and a good one. It can be the difference of feeling helpless, or hopeful. Even if we think we don't have anything to give, we can always give a smile. The Happy Hour Woman said good-bye and went on about her way. Having 100% faith in Happy Hour Woman's prediction that Halina was going to have a good future, I whispered to her that she should always believe the prophesies of a drunk woman.
I asked Halina if she had a personal mission statement. Halina answered, "to bring peace, and to be kind." Halina said, "love is the greatest thing. Love can heal."
I asked Halina something about herself which she would consider to be a success. Halina answered, "my kids think that I'm a great mom, and I have a wonderful circle of friends."
We usually summarize the personal mission statements of each subject for the week, but since Halina had her own day, here's a summary of her wisdom:
- To bring peace
- To be Kind
- Love is the greatest thing.
- Love can heal.
...and just like that, it was over. The 365 Day People Picture Project came to an end. I had just taken the final picture for the project, and my friends were waiting for me in the restaurant. I had a 2-second, silent celebration in my mind as I walked with Halina down the pier to join our respective friends. Done. Finished. I did it. Now what?
Since the last photo in this project was taken in the same place as the first, I'll also end this project with the beginning. Several subjects asked me why I was doing the project. I was never able to articulate an answer, but rather gave a brief explanation of how it started. I don't think I actually ever knew the true reason, and therefore, it was impossible for me to give an accurate answer. I'm still not sure I can answer why I did this. How do we explain something which we're compelled to do? How do we explain the place from where a compulsion or burning desire to create originates?
The explanation that I often gave was that I started a blog and quickly realized I needed visual content for the blog and needed to learn photography immediately. I also realized that I live a completely un-blogworthy life. Why would a person with an un-interesting life and no photography skills even start a blog? The short answer - Nubby Twiglet.
I've been following my friend Shauna's blog, Nubby Twiglet, for several years. I didn't even know what a blog was until our mutual friend turned me on to Nubby Twiglet. I was able to see her evolution as a designer and blogger and it was all quite interesting and fascinating. Although I enjoyed reading about her life, never in a million years would I have imagined I would, or could, start a blog of my own. As life would have it, we became friends and when you start to hang around determined people, you start to absorb their energy. She is dedicated and passionate and you can't help but pick up on her enthusiasm. When she began telling me about her plans for The Blogcademy, in which she and two other blogger friends were going to teach blogging workshops all over the world, the seed was planted. A blog would be a perfect opportunity for me to get into the habit of writing, and some day achieve my dream of writing a book/screenplay. After attending The Blogcademy and spending just two days with Shauna, Kat, Gala, and a room full of amazing and determined women - you leave there determined to do something, to create something. You believe that anything is possible if you set your mind to it.
Absorbing all of their amazing energy and determination didn't make up for the fact that I wasn't a photographer and I didn't have enough content to sustain a blog. I stumbled through a few blog posts but knew right away that I had to create content or I needed to stop the blog.
At the same time this was happening, I was receiving subtle and unconscious influences from others around me. I had an Instagram and Facebook friend, James, who frequently posted pictures of an anonymous woman he called Day Walker. He's in artist in Kansas and we've never met, but I found myself fascinated by the Day Walker. I looked forward to seeing pictures of the Day Walker, but I didn't realize how much of an impression James and his Day Walker were having on my mind.
Then one day, I took a picture of a stranger - a cute old man outside of a bar next to the tattoo shop where I was delivering an order of T-shirts. (You can read more about this on week 31.) I kept thinking about the picture of the cute old man outside of the bar.
Between Shauna, James and his Day Walker, the random old man outside of the bar, and my secret love of photography, the idea for The 365 Day People Picture Project was born. I mentioned the idea to a private Facebook group I was in at the time, and James shared a link to "Humans of New York," and encouraged me to go for it! So, I did!
A Picture of a Picture - My Dad
This is my Dad. He passed away several years ago now, but sometimes it feels like it was just a few months ago. My secret love of photography is because of him, this picture of him, and pictures of many other people I love in my life.
When I was a kid, my Dad became involved with a family friend who had the idea to publish a book about Klamath Falls, the town where I'm from. It was to be a series, and the best way I can describe the book is that it was like a yearbook, but for an entire community. My Dad took several pictures for the book and I was usually tagging along with him. In my memory, it seems like for a while, that's all we did - we went around town taking pictures. He set up a dark room and he let me "help" develop pictures. By help, I mean that he had to keep me busy enough to keep me from ruining his pictures. I'm sure my assigned task did nothing to actually help him, other than to keep me out of his way. (We built a boat "together" in much the same fashion.) Only one book ended up being published, but the experience of hanging out with my dad when he was shooting, shaped me more than I ever knew.
Looking back, I wish I would have continued on to take photography classes in High School. I'm not sure why I didn't.
I don't know if other people's minds work in this same way, but it's how my brain works and it contributes to my love of photography. This photograph of my Dad sat on our TV stand and even when my Dad was alive, this picture became him, and he became the picture. I would see it so frequently - it became to be how I would envision him. The same thing happened for many of the family pictures we had. A person, to me, became how I saw them in their photograph.
With people and your memories of them, it sometimes feels like the memories are so fast, and so blurry, and so overwhelming, that you can't even feel them because you can't keep up with the flood of remembered experiences crashing in on your mind. For me, seeing a picture of a person, or remembering a particular picture of a person, has been a way of stopping the blur, pausing time - and letting me hold them still in my mind. It allows me the time to just think about them, and to love them. It's as though all of the memories and feelings you have of a person, fall into an organized order behind a photograph so that you can sort through them one-by-one.
I want to learn how to take nice pictures of you so that when someone looks at your photograph, they can feel you. The picture becomes you, and you become the picture. I want the picture to allow people the time just to think about you, and to love you.
Thank you, to each and every subject in this project. You've showered me with so much kindness this past year, and it's been the happiest thing happening in my life. You've touched my heart and you've changed me. I started this with the intention to learn and improve my photography skills. I don't know much about photography, but you've improved the state of my heart. You've improved me. My sincerest thanks for all that you've given to me.
If you've been a subject in this project and are interested in a copy of your picture, please don't hesitate to e-mail me!
Thank you for following along with me on this project. Having you here alongside me, has helped me to keep going when I thought I should just give up. You kept me accountable and I'm so happy you came along for the journey.
What's next? 365 More People Pictures!!! I'll tell you more about that in the next post.
Thank you again for helping me to make this a reality!