Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Part 1 of 365 Wrap up & 8:10

{This truly shows the power of processing.  Prior to taking the photo, this is exactly what my eye saw.  But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't capture all of warmth or glow.  Processing helped.}

I figured I'd break up my 365 revelation into two parts & post prior to 1/1.  I'm not sure how much time I'll have once Friday arrives.  And who wants to read someone's ramblings this close to the New Year?  I don't...  I want to be celebrating!

Part One, people.

When I started questioning a 365 for 2010, people voiced their opinions loudly.
Do it! It was life changing!: were the themes of these comments.  How difficult could a picture a day be?  Life-changing?  Seriously, it’s a picture, people?: ran through my head.  By the end of 2010, I can honestly say that I was wrong.  The 365 was hard & it was life changing.

In late 2009, I remember standing in the kitchen making pb&j sandwiches.  And I thought: Is this it?  Is this what life is going to be like?  I didn’t question it as if my next move was going to be an escape to Mexico under an alias.  I just questioned it like I had pondered other moments in my life. Was my reality living up to the view I had constructed in my mind before the incident had happened?  It never does because it's impossible for that to happen.  My first pondered moment was in middle school after I finally worked up the nerve to shave my legs.  I figured it would propel me into some other level of adolescence.  I’d emerge fuzz-free & almost a woman.  A few days later I realized I was still Erika only with shinier pasty legs.  I walked around with nicked knees & my mother’s voice in my head, “Why start now?  Once you start, you’re always shaving.”  Damn, she was right.  Years later, I stood in my kitchen feeling the same way.  I was fixing lunches with a load of laundry just out of eyesight.  Kids were hungry, again, dishes were piling up, and I had work to do.  I felt like I was always going to be juggling different balls while walking down a long tunnel.   Believe it or not, I wasn’t depressed.  I didn’t want to sell my children at the Farmer’s Market & I didn't regret having children.  I have children that are not close in age, so I realized things don’t get easier when they’re potty-trained.  Someone throws a new ball into the mix.  On that day, I just felt like I was juggling and walking through life.  And I couldn’t see how things would ever get easier or slow down.

I decided to start 2010 off with a project.  Not because of that moment in the kitchen.  Honestly that moment never crossed my mind when I jumped into the 365.  I really wanted to use my 365 project as a way to remember our year.  I didn’t want to become a better photographer.  I didn’t want to discover new things.  I just wanted to take one picture a day that would jog my memory in the future.   I proved myself wrong.  In a huge way…

With my 365, I discovered that I am a photographer.  In 2009, I was uncomfortable with the P word.  It took forever for me to breakaway from the title “I Just Like To Take Pictures.”  It doesn't help that people think your photos are only great because your camera isn't a Point n' Shoot.  I've had people say that to me & I've heard countless other photographers discuss the sting of this statement.  I was slowly emerging from the curse of a good camera.   But no one was asking me to take their picture, so how good could the photos actually be?  I loved them because they focused on my most cherished moments.  I loved them because they smacked me in the heart.  There's doubt if anyone else will feel the same emotion.  But by the time I began the 365, I was starting to realize that I was just plain good at something & I didn't need other people asking for photos for me to see that.  I did have a new obstacle in 2010 which was my hang-up of processing.  I spent a good portion of 2010 thinking that my photos were only good because I edited with Photoshop.  I felt like I was a hack or a cheat because I tossed an action on a photo & tweaked some levels.  Anyone with big check, good computer, & enough time could create fantastic images too.  Right?

At the end of my 365, I can say that I'm completely over those myths.  If I never get paid another dime for a photo, I will always tell people that I’m a photographer.  Payment does not make you a photographer.  Lots of payments don't make a really good photographer.  I know many people that have rarely if ever been paid & they are far superior to lots of professionals.  I also discovered & accepted that I have talent with composition & processing.  Just because I have an expensive camera & expensive processing tools, I still have a talent that can’t be replicated by spending the same amount of money on tools & programs.  Give any of the same tools & time to a stranger that lacks passion or an eye.   That stranger won’t be able to do what I can do.  I have also grown enough that I have confidence in making that statement.  Look at my stuff & say you hate it or it isn’t that good.  I’ll believe you, but I won’t care.  I might be wounded, but I'll use that to grow.  Some might read this paragraph & think that’s rather cocky.  If I wrote, “And I did it alone & I'm the best,” that would be ballsy, bitchy & cocky.  I would not be able to make these statements if it weren’t for the hundreds of people that inspired me & for the core group of friends who keep pushing.  For the first part of 2010, I was frightened of what people would think about my images or words.  I've learned that it's perfectly fine to take a picture anywhere in public.  No one will question you & you'll have gotten the shot you wanted.  I’ve learned that people are supportive & nurturing.  I’ve learned that a community will hold you up and make you see what you can’t.  Number one, my 365 made me a photographer.  It made me a better one & it made me an artist. 

Part two tomorrow...
I'm also going to be reposting this on Erika Ray Photography.  Probably not Part Two though.  I'm still unsure of my voice on that blog.  I guess that's something I should figure out in 2011 too.


  1. you are sort of kind of making me wnat to do a 365 this coming year. I don't know if I will have time, but all the things you listed about learning are exactly the things I want to get over as a photographer.

    thanks- and btw. you are one damn good photographer in my opion. just sayin'

  2. you are a brilliant photographer.
    i'm so pleased you now know it too.
    (and i think you might've just convinced me to start).

  3. oh em gee.
    I love this post sooooooo much. you most definitely ARE a photographer. a damn good one, too. and I love that you realized that.

    (I am still working on that)

    I am so proud to know you.

  4. so, the big question is... are you going to do it again?

  5. I must say that you are a smart photographer.Good to know you.I'm looking forward to read the second part of it.

  6. My journey would not have been the same without you. You put a voice to a lot of my internal thinking. I am so glad that amongst the flickr landscape I happened upon your photos and blunt, ballsy and truthful commentary.

    You having two boys, a Cooper and a camera formed a flickr bond that I am grateful for.

    you are and always will be a photographer! xo

  7. If I could drink I would take you out and cheers to this.

  8. Oh man Erika, I could have wrote half of this myself.
    It took me this whole past year to come to believing in myself as a photographer, not just because I have a nice camera, and know how to use cs4.
    You're great. Thanks for be so inspiring.