The Daily Project That Sustained Me During My Most Difficult Year

In 2014, I started the year with an ambitious project to take one photo every day for a whole year to improve my photography skills. 

I started the project on 1st January 2014 and had so many high expectations and lofty ideas and dreams for the year ahead. It was back in the time when Instagram was full of daily photo prompts and themes which I had tried in the previous years and loved contributing to the project and community. I had only been taking photographs with my DSLR camera for two years and I wanted to jump ahead in my skill and knowledge level. I wanted to take a photo each day to get myself out and about and get my creativity flowing on a daily basis. I was so eager; still in the honeymoon phase of a new hobby that was perfect for me.

In the middle of February, barely six weeks into my photo challenge, I started having severe pain in my upper body. I couldn’t pick up my camera and had to swap for an iPhone camera if I wanted to continue the project. I am pretty stubborn sometimes and I don’t like giving up on anything unless I’m really not enjoying it, so I persisted with the photo project. 

By May, I was barely getting out of bed each day and housebound, with the exception of draining and inconclusive medical appointments. 

My practice project quickly turned into a coping mechanism, as it was one solid thing that allowed me to do something creative without relying on others to help me and I would have something small to look forward to doing every day. Rather than focusing on the pain I was in or struggling to get through moment to moment, I was looking out for something to take a photo of throughout my day and finding beauty in so many moments. 

The project that was meant to be about getting out and about in my town and exploring, quickly turned the opposite direction. My world was shrinking to the size of my house I was living in, and I had to work with the limitations that I had on me, to get creative taking photos of whatever things were around me. My mind was expanding in the ways I could set up a photo or analysing all the details in a flower, preparing the photo in my mind before I took it. 

Looking back on the entire collection of photos now, it is a great summary of my life at the time. I have photos of my favourite things, what the house looked like, how big the trees were, what was in the garden or the kitchen or on the bookcase, and close ups of mundane everyday items. Of course any time I was out I would be on the lookout for something interesting to take a photo of or document my outing in some way. 

Every photo has a story behind it and every second month I would use the Fat Mum Slim Photo A Day prompts for guidance. The encouragement from these communities on Facebook and Instagram got me through some days when I felt my creativity was missing. 

The project let me hold on to a part of myself when so many other things were falling away due to injury and illness. Even after an incredibly difficult life changing year and a lot of tough memories associated with some of these photos, I will still look back on them fondly for the daily joy it brought me. 

The finished project printed in a 12 inch square album.

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After a long day of trying to keep your head up and survive, it can be hard to remember the good little things that happened during the day. Gratitude becomes a giant exhale for the day. Get the bad stuff out of the way, and let’s focus on the good things and lighten the load.

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We all need our little anchors to keep up grounded and uplifted when the seas and skies are stormy.

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One of my all-time favorite people to recommend is Brooke McAlary and her new book, Care, helps us work out what to do when the world’s problems feel too big and we are burnt out from trying, and we need to restore ourselves so that we can continue to care for things.

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