In the era of imagery and digital photography, taking photos and having your picture taken is unavoidable. Yet, while our phones, tablets and digital camera’s are often overflowing with images, the effort to give these photos some recognition seems to slowly fade away. During this challenge I’m going to change things up. It’s time to photograph your life as it is, in all it’s simplicity and splendor. All you need is your camera!
Call me old-fashioned but I enjoy flipping through my old photo-albums, looking at how my life was when I was too little to form a memory of it. The albums our mothers have lovingly (and sometimes, pain-painstakingly) put together often have a far higher value than harddisks full of smartphone snapshots. Sure they are often put in a box in the attic, but at least they’re there when you’re looking for them, called “baby album” or even just “1998”.
The advantages of digital photography are undeniable. And I for one am a great fan, as it made photography a lot easier and cheaper. Yet I can’t help but feel that the ease which with we take photos takes some attention away from the subject, if not the quality of the image. Some people seem to experience half their lives through a lens, yet when you look what they got to show for it you see endless galleries of grainy selfies and photos of dinner plates.
A couple of years ago, I decided it was time to put some effort into documenting my life as it was. What I looked like, and the people around me. My house, my daily commute to my garden plot, and the regular table my mother and I used to pick when we went out for lunch. I documented life as it was: Not by making careless snapshots, but by putting some genuine effort into capturing the essence of the subject. From taking a shot of the dirty kitchen (which was a typical sight when me and the Mister were too busy for household chores) to capturing the look my cat could give me when she was hungry. My cousin’s first tattoo (all plastered up and slathered in vaseline) and the way my little niece was being put to bed, all kisses and giggles. These are images that have grown incredibly dear to me, as they are deeply personal and don’t only remind me of the moment I took them, but also of that exact period of my life.
Since I’ve moved house and things have changed, I feel it’s time to repeat this proces. So I’m going to challenge myself to take my camera with me for a month, to document my life. And I’d like to challenge you to do the same!
30-day Challenge: Photograph your life as it is
Document what your life looks like in 30 days with deliberate effort. You don’t need to be a pro-photographer to do this; some love and attention is all your pictures need! Just make sure you pay attention to the little things which end up making your life – your life. Take your camera everywhere you go by putting it in your purse/bag/pocket, so you’ll be able to snap away the moment you realize you see something worth capturing!
- Photograph your partner, your family, your pets, and yourself. Especially when they’re doing something typically, beautifully ordinary.
- Take pictures of your house and your current interior. Messy or clean; make sure to reflect what’s typical for you. If you’re anything like me, next year you’ll find out you’ve switched quite some things around! And don’t forget your car, while you’re at it.
- Don’t be afraid to take pictures of your television screen! Take a still of your favorite tv-show or the news (and enjoy the funny faces people will end up making).
- Take photos during your daily commute to work. Whether you take the car or the subway; the story lies in the details. Those bleak office buildings next to your parking spot for example, might photograph really well. The same counts for your route to the supermarket or to the gym!
- Are you meeting people? Make a couple of surprise photos, to capture their surroundings and their faces. Watch how they act and capture that too; odds are the photos will reflect their personality very well!
- Walk around, or go for a drive in your area. Take pictures of things and places you think are interesting, or have fond memories of.
Spice things up by…
… Actually grabbing a designated camera for this project, instead of your phone. The additional settings will spark your creativity, and the quality of the results will be better! Time to dust off your pocket-camera, or if you have one, your digital SLR. Embrace your inner photographer!
… Keeping only the images you feel reflect your life best. With digital photography it’s tempting to make tons of images and keep all of them safely stored. But an image gets more powerful when it there aren’t a hundred like them in the same folder. Look through your daily results and delete the photos you feel aren’t up to par.
… Putting a bit of yourself in your photos. Literally and figuratively! Feel free to discover your artistic side by looking for interesting angles and effects, but also make your presence known by showing a glimpse of your hand and feet. Or cheat a little by passing the camera on for a second, so you can actually be in the picture too.
… Photographing in black and white. Most digital camera’s have this setting, which will alter your photos without using any retouching software. It will give your images a new artistic dimension, which might spark your creativity* !
* As you can see I did the same for my last personal photography project, and I will do the same for this one.
Share your results!
Of course, some photos are too personal to throw online (or at least, I tend to think so!), but feel free to share your stuff on social media! Just use the hashtag #WFWchallenge to track the results of other followers. Naturally I will use it too on Twitter and Instagram!
Have fun documenting!