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Day 1: 1-1-12

Day 1: 1-1-12

Day 1 of the New Era

Once upon a time, I saw a photo by a man named Stephen Poff who was attempting to take a self-portrait every day for an entire year. It inspired me to do the same. Mostly, I just loved the challenge of it. Stephen had admitted that he’d even missed a few days and I wanted to see if I could do it, non-stop, rain or shine, sick or well, I wanted to see if I could pull it off. To keep me honest, I created a little group on a website called Flickr to publish my photos to. I figured that if maybe a dozen or so people were watching that I’d feel bad if I skipped a day and that would get me through the whole year.

I maybe underestimated the nature of vanity in the human spirit just a tad.

I began my first project a little over five years ago with a simple photo in the shadows of the balcony of the hotel I happened to be staying in that night. I continued the project for not only a year, but four. Four straight years without missing a single shot. Taking a photo and writing a diary entry every single day. I even wrote a book about it. Eventually, I just kind of got tired of it. I was burned out. I didn’t want to see myself anymore. I had nothing more to say about myself. I needed a break. So after four years, and 1461 straight photos, I simply stopped. I didn’t announce it. I didn’t tell anyone. I just stopped and faded into the background.

The 365 Days project is honestly one of the proudest accomplishments of my life. Through that flickr group, one I initially would have been thrilled if 50 people followed, I inspired over 21,000 all over the world to to try the same journey. Suddenly I had my own little cult. I had a podcast (with Stephen), I’d written a book, I’d been interviewed by newspapers and radio shows. I never really regretted walking away from it. I figured the testament just stood for itself. But I did miss it on occasion. I still do. I miss sharing my art, my thoughts, my words and my life. And most of all, I miss sharing in the lives of others. Every single day of the project, I got to read about someone who says that the project changed their lives. That they grew as a person. That they learned something about themselves. I’ve always been very proud of that. I’ve thought about coming back from time to time, but never pulled the trigger.

I often said, back in the early days, that a photographer named Sarah Bloom is 365’s proudest success story. Sarah was a shy woman with very little photographic experience who became attracted to the project in the first year. Watching her first year was amazing. From photo to photo, you could literally see her grow as an artist, from simple snapshots to some of the most innovative work I’ve ever seen. I don’t think I’m out of line by saying Sarah would be the first person to tell you that 365 Days changed her life. She eventually walked away from the project after a few years as well. But by the time she had, she’d become one of my all time favorite photographers; a respected published artist, with gallery shows full of truly provocative work. She also became a friend.

I had been considering coming back this year, and then I saw a tweet from Sarah saying she was trying the project once again as well. Much like Stephen inspired me to take a shot the first time, Sarah made me want to try it this time. I walked into my studio, set up a light and my tripod and went to work.

Maybe I’m back. Maybe I’m not. I simply don’t know if I have another year of this stuff left in me. But I know I have at least one day in me. And we’ll see if I have a day in me tomorrow. I already know I’m capable of doing the project. This time it isn’t about proving that to myself. It’s also not about proving it to anyone else. I’ve done that before too. In fact, the main reason I stuck around for four years last time around was that I didn’t want to let people down. I felt like I had to be the leader of the group. I felt like I had to be there. Maybe that’s why I left. Maybe I just didn’t want the responsibility anymore. I dunno. I didn’t really intend this particular entry to be this deep.

Or maybe I did. See, there’s a lot of things I’ve been wanting to change about my life lately. So this is my journey of self discovery. This is my chance to jump in and do it the way everyone else does. Take a photo. List my thoughts. Learn about myself. Let see where it takes me. Maybe I make 365 days. Maybe I don’t. The open ended journey is the whole point of it, right?

Of course, the world is likely to end this year, so i won’t make the whole thing anyway, but that’s beyond my control. . . . . . . . And somehow… I don’t mind.

Crossposted to my blog


15 comments for “Day 1: 1-1-12

  1. avatar
    January 1, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    2012 Baby! I’m proud of you, but then I’ve always been proud of you. Just seeing this is making me think about the project again! Dang it!

    Good luck. Even if it doesn’t last the whole year, you know I’ll be enjoying your posts for however long they last!

    ps. Great photo… as always 😉

  2. avatar
    January 1, 2012 at 11:43 pm

    I am really happy to see you here. Thank you and hell yes 365 changed my life! What an honor to be mentioned as inspiration for you to start again, and thank you for your very kind words. 🙂

  3. avatar
    January 2, 2012 at 12:18 am

    Good to see you back. Best of luck.

  4. avatar
    January 2, 2012 at 12:31 am

    I’ve looked at yours & Stephen’s 365 day journey previously, looking forward to following your journey this time. Well Done

  5. avatar
    January 2, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Hey guys, guess what. I’m back. I’m also on Tumblr. And I’m taking on the ‘pocalypse. Actually, I"m going to try to convince people not to panic. I’m going to tackle this from the iPhone as a priority. And we’ll see what happens.

  6. avatar
    January 2, 2012 at 4:18 am

    Ok… I guess I have no choice but to start a 365 again, too. 😉

  7. avatar
    January 2, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Happy New Year – it’s great to see you back on the 365 route again. This group has changed my life – I’m always looking for opportunities to take my photo. And I spend far too much time going through other people’s photos in the 365 Days pool !
    ( I see that Wooble has started another year as well 🙂

  8. avatar
    January 2, 2012 at 9:10 am

    [] Jill!!!! <3

  9. avatar
    January 2, 2012 at 9:33 am

    good luck captain

  10. avatar
    January 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    i can remember finding the group and thinking yay, there’s others doing this weirdness i’ve been doing for nine months. i started in january 2005, and it’s painful sometimes to look back at all those pics. don’t think i’ll ever do another. the 1000+ photos i have are enough. 🙂

  11. avatar
    January 5, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Glad to see you back.

  12. avatar
    January 7, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    2012 is going to be a good year.
    And, yes, I can never stop saying it – you changed my life! 1801 days and still going strong!

  13. avatar
    January 7, 2012 at 10:05 pm

    []: I never get tired of hearing that. 🙂

  14. avatar
    January 9, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Nice to see your face again! Every year I start some new creative project that will take me a year to do. Whether it be a film, or a photography project, a podcast or 2011’s iPhone album. But nothing will quite rival the impact the 365 Days project has had on myself, the flickrverse and ultimately pop culture. It’s emotionally and physically draining… and like yourself, sometimes I doubt I have it in me again… but I miss it. Kudos to those who’ve been able to stick with it for more than a couple of years… it’s a major challenge that few can achieve.

    I’ll be watching!

  15. avatar
    January 9, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    hey Chris great to have you back. 365 was a major thing for me too, not that i’ve accomplished more than personal/ photographic developments but having people watch and value my photos was awesome.
    The greatest thing that 365 achieved was a true community/friendship around that project. And that’s what I miss the most of the podcast year: seeing those people I knew only from photos talk and share ideas (not just you and Stephen, but all those guest you had). excuse my "missing the good old days" vibe here but i just want to conclude that it has always been about the people and i’ve been missing some of those faces popping up regularly so it’s great to have you back and hope you continue 🙂

    all the best

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