Happy New Year! The start of 2014 closes week 21 of the 365 Day People Picture Project. Thank you for following along! It's funny when I think back to the start of this project - it started on a random Sunday, August 11th. Had I waited till the start of the new year to start the project, which I considered for a split second, this would have been week 1.
I didn't make any resolutions to share with you, but I've made a big change. It's more like a New Year's declaration than a resolution.
Have you noticed that I've said, "I'm not a photographer" probably 21 times in the last 21 weeks? I've decided that I'm not going to say that anymore. By refusing to embrace the "photographer" title, I've been giving myself an excuse to remain exactly where I am, and an excuse not to improve. Hey, you can't expect me to take a good picture if "I'm not a photographer." With the help of a new friend and the haunting words of an old friend, I decided that the only way I'm going to improve, is if I accept and embrace the title of "photographer."
I reached this decision last night. I met my new friend Scott, from day 83, to find a subject for the day. I overheard him describing this project to someone and when talking with that person, he referred to me as a photographer, working on an art project. I cringed! This is not the first time he's said that but it's just so hard for me to accept. I've half-heartedly tried to embrace the title and I definitely like the sound of it, but I just can't take my own medicine! When Scott denied the title of "artist," I encouraged him to own it, but I've been unwilling to do the same.
On my way home last night, my thoughts drifted and my mind replayed a conversation I had with a friend years ago. That old friend (the friend who inspired this post) and I had been talking about a writing contest that I was afraid to enter. The friend had finally grown tired of listening to me talk about writing, but never actually writing. He said, "you know the only difference between you and all the writers who enter the contest - they write and you don't! You talk about writing but you don't write." He went on to simultaneously scold and encourage me with more simple brilliance and although I can't remember word for word, he said something like; to be a writer, you just have to do one thing - write. You may be a shitty writer, but at least you can call yourself a writer. It's better to be a shitty writer than it is to be someone who just sits around wishing they could be a writer. If you want to be a writer, write. If you're a shitty writer, get better.
With the words of two friends swirling around in my head, I made the decision: I take pictures. I'm a photographer. I may be a shitty photographer right now, but I am a photographer and I will get better.
Day 141 - Ryan
I saw Ryan sitting outside the mall on Sunday evening and I actually passed him by. I was having a challenging day finding a subject and I think I was feeling a little defeated because even though I liked his form, I just continued driving past him.
I came to my senses, parked my car and walked back to find him. I thought he would be gone by time I reached the area but he was still there.
When I approached Ryan, he agreed to let me take his picture right away, but then he was concerned he would look upset. He had been waiting for someone and was starting to get both annoyed and concerned that the person hadn't shown. I assured him he didn't look mad.
I asked Ryan the happiest thing happening in his life and he replied that he's "trying to start a clothing line." I asked who he's working with and explained that I work for a screen printer. I think we both thought it was more than a coincidence that I just happened to randomly stop to take his picture. He told me who he's been working with and although I've heard decent things about the shop, I still told him where I work.
When I asked Ryan if he's recently performed an act of kindness, he gave me quite the look! I couldn't tell what he was thinking! It turned out to be another big coincidence, as he was trying to perform an act of kindness at that very moment. He explained that he was there, waiting for someone whom he had just offered to help. He told the person where and when to meet him, but they never showed. I could tell Ryan was upset and concerned for that person. He did his best to reach out his hand to someone in need, but the person who needed the help just didn't reach back.
Day 142 - Anonymous Girl at Sam's Billiards
I surprised this girl when I approached her to ask for her picture. She didn't think she was picture-worthy but I insisted she was.
I've learned during this project that glasses are my nemesis. I'm constantly battling glare, reflection, and how they sit on people's faces. Being inexperienced, I mostly lose the battle. I've just recently learned to ask people if they would be willing to take off their glasses. Actually, it may have been after this picture that I realized I need to ask people to remove or reposition their glasses. I love her look but I wish that I had been a tiny bit lower, or asked her to reposition her glasses just a tiny bit higher, so that we could see her pretty eyes. I get frustrated with my mistakes, but I understand I need to make them in order to improve.
"Living in Portland," is the happiest thing going on in Anonymous Girl at Sam's life.
Day 143 - Shelly
This is Shelly and she was the last person of 2013! We're both from the same small Southern Oregon town and we actually went to High School together. Unknowingly, we've ended up living about a mile away from each other in the same town, over 250 miles from where we came. Were it not for Facebook, we probably would have never known we were so close!
Shelly is pretty amazing. She's both a student and teacher of the Law of Attraction. She publishes a blog on the subject and she's even written an e-book, "Happy Change Life." Shelly keeps busy writing, blogging, being a mom and managing her ebay store, Cherry Picker Boutique. Her job sounds like so much fun but I realize it must be a lot of work. I know that she's often out treasure-hunting for inventory for Cherry Picker Boutique.
I understand the foundation of the Law of Attraction is that basically; our thoughts become reality, so keep our thoughts good ones. Shelly lives this! In the 3+ years that we've been Facebook friends, everything she says is positive! It's refreshing and inspiring.
Not only is Shelly's positivity inspiring, but if there's something she wants to do, she just does it. She's also currently studying to get her real estate license and working on a novel. I know she's the type of person who will actually finish it! "Writing my book is giving me the most pleasure in life," is what Shelly said when I asked the happiest thing going on right now.
When I asked Shelly if she's performed an act of kindness, she responded that she gives money to a homeless couple - this happens to be the same homeless couple that Megan just gave her meals to last week!
Shelly has encouraged me since day one of this blog. It's been nice having a friend cheer me along and I appreciate her and her support. I'm so glad she agreed to let me take her picture and close out the year! (Shelly, thank you for being in this project! Your support means a great deal to me!)
Day 144 - Mary, My Sister-in-Law
I had a great surprise on New Year's Eve! I learned my brother and sister-in-law would be in town for the night so we made plans to meet for breakfast on New Year's Day. I don't see my family often enough, so it was great to be able to see my brother twice in a week and a half, and this time, I also got to see Mary too! Although our visits have been short both times, my little heart gets a much-needed fill-up when I do see my family.
When I was little, I didn't really understand the "in-law" of sister-in-law. I always just thought of Mary as my sister. Although I'm older and I now know the difference between a sister and a sister-in-law, my heart doesn't distinguish the difference.
We had a nice New Year's Day breakfast and spent some more time catching up and visiting, but this time I remembered to ask Mary about the happiest thing going on in her life. "The commitment to the change that I've decided to make - I'm encouraged to be more Christ-like in every situation and to be filled with spirit, love, peace and joy," is the answer Mary gave. We went on to have a good conversation where she elaborated that she wants to be more Christ-like in her life and interactions, not just when she's at church.
Mary - thank you for letting me take your picture and being in this project and most importantly, I'm glad you're my
Sister-in-Law Sister. I love you.
Day 145 - Rachelle
I met Rachelle waiting at the bus stop. It was another race to take her picture before the bus arrived. I'm disappointed in myself because I didn't do as good of a job as I should have. Rachelle had also told me that she didn't think she was picture-worthy. It's obvious that she is quite picture-worthy and a beautiful girl, but I really wanted to take a fabulous picture; one that she would love so much, she would never say those words again. But, on the bright side, I think I proved the point anyway. She's so picture-worthy, it can't even be hidden in my poor execution of the photo.
"Being able to restart," is the answer Rachelle gave when I asked the happiest thing happening in her life. Diet and exercise are important in her life and a new year is definitely a new start for us all.
When I asked if she's recently performed an act of kindness, she explained that she likes to do small things every day because it makes her a better person.
Day 146 - Jeff
This is Jeff and I met him at Out-a-Bounds. (Anne and Scott's Cheer's.) It took some encouragement from Jeff's girlfriend and from Scott, but he agreed to let me take his picture.
This is actually the most cropped photo I've ever posted on the project. I could be mistaken, but I think I've actually only cropped 2-3 pictures so far. If you're a photographer, you might be saying, "yeah, I can tell!" (There's several that could have benefitted from being cropped.)
One of the first lessons I've been able to grasp when learning about photography, is to minimize the amount of cropping done in post. The pros suggest that you learn to compose a picture properly to begin with, so that you don't have to do so later. If you can train yourself to compose a shot properly, you'll train yourself to have a better eye and you'll be a better photographer. Of course, there are times when this is unavoidable and there isn't a rule against it, but it's one thing I've tried to be diligent about because even with my lack of knowledge, this is one skill that I've been able to work on since the first day I got my camera. No matter what your skill level and no matter what you know and don't know about your camera's operation, this is one skill that you can work on from the minute you first pick up a camera. I sort of blew it on this one, but I knew at the time that I was blowing it. Jeff was standing to the side of a dry cleaner business and although I knew the awful and distracting window signage was in the background, Jeff looked awesome! Although I accidentally make this mistake quite frequently, this is one time that I knowingly took the shot with the intention that I could always crop it later. Jeff and I moved to a different spot after this picture, but this was still my favorite picture because of his eyes.
I asked Jeff the happiest thing happening in his life and he said, "I'm really happy the holidays are over."
Jeff works at a care facility, so he performs acts of kindness every day!
Day 147 - Cyclist
I met this man at the trailhead of my favorite lake trail. I had just finished a little 7 mile walk and he was taking a half-way-there break from his ride. Like a waitress, I approached him just as he had taken a giant bite of a protein bar, but he agreed to be day 147 just as soon as he finished chewing.
I love to watch people's faces when I ask them about the happiest thing happening in their lives. Some people answer right away and other people really take their time in forming the answer. I secretly hope to myself that they have so many happy things going on in their life, that they're trying to figure out which is the happiest. On the flip side, I also appreciate that perhaps things aren't so happy but they're working really hard to think of something positive to say. When I asked the cyclist about the happiest thing in his life, he responded after much thought, "that my son is doing well in the air force."
I asked the cyclist if he's recently performed an act of kindness and he thought for a while and then said that he's not the most generous person in the world in that he doesn't give away everything he owns, but he tries to do little things all the time.
I wanted to share another picture of the lake along which my favorite little trail runs. I met the cyclist at the start of this trail. This is actually from last week, but I forgot to share it with you then.
Thank you for sharing in this project and for spending time with me and all of the subjects so far. It's nice having you along!
If you've been a subject in this project, thank you! Although our interaction was brief, every one of you has made an impact on my life and I appreciate you.
I'm just a little curious - has the start of the new year inspired you to start a project of your own?
Wishing you a great week and a year filled with happiness and acts of kindness.