On 31 Day Projects

I mentioned a while back a 31 day project I had planned to kick off my 2014. 31 days of self portraits that allowed me to a) do something creative every day b) get to know my camera a little better c) take at least one photo every single day, therefore learning photography a little more and d) allow me to reflect on a single month of the new year. To even my own surprise I was able to get through 31 days of consistently snapping photos and sharing them over at my Flickr account.

Was I able to do something creative every day? True photographers would question my answer here but I have to say yes. It had become apparent early on that I was going to have to come up with something to pose with, something to pose in front of, something interesting to do, a new way to sit, etc. Self portraits can get boring and repetitive and they can do it faster than lightening. While I certainly do not believe I’ve captured myself in 31 days in the most creative way possible, I certainly believe I did alright coming up with original compositions every day for the month of January even though there are only so many ways you can pose in your den, living room and garage. It was also nice to be able to jump back into Photoshop, my favorite artistic tool that I’ve ever used and a tool I’ve not been able to utilize much over the last couple of years.

Was I able to get to know my camera a little better? Heck yes! I’ve used a DSLR camera before in previous jobs but only knew it well enough to be able to do what I needed to do for my job which was mostly video and video that wasn’t really creative at that. You take some things for granted being a video guy most of your life so it was very interesting to learn how to manipulate ISO and shutter speeds to capture certain moods and lighting effects in the different rooms of my house with the provided light source. I kept my focus on automatic most of the time only because I found it difficult to manually focus when I wasn’t able to see what I was focusing on (myself) but all of my other photos were taken in manual mode which allowed me greater control over the look and feel of my photos.

Did I learn anything about photography? Knowing and practicing videography has given me a nice solid foundation for finding shots while learning why some work and others don’t. In this project I was able to learn a little more about interesting composition but more than anything I learned a lot about light. My light sources ranged from natural sunlight outdoors to backlit with windows, fluorescent lights, clear incandescent light, soft white light and often times a combination of 2-3 at once. Lighting is something I know very little about and I feel like my knowledge increased exponentially during this project.

Am I able to reflect (positively) on the previous month because of this project? That’s kind of hard to say but it’s definitely entertaining to see how I went from bearded in day 1 to mustached on day 18, clean shaven on 21 and then shadowed by day 31. All appear to be very different versions of the same guy – sort of like an action figure only instead of accessorizing with a little plastic gun and knife I come with interchangeable facial hair and a Canon EOS Rebel SL1.

Anyway, here’s a sampling of my favorites from the 31 days of January. You can find the rest on Flickr.

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