By Lis Bokt
At the end of each year, I go through my photography collection and pull together my favorite photos. They become part of my final portfolio, of which I make two: the best photos for the year, and the best among those which take their place with photos of the past. This is an exercise I look forward to each December, though each year has varying results.
For me, 2007 was a very hectic year. I’m sure this is a sentiment many around me share as well. While throughout the year I felt like I was making photos whenever I could, I found myself somewhat disappointed at the end of the year. There were a few months where, while I took some photos, I didn’t feel there were any worthy of a place in my portfolio. I observed that the more often I took photos, the more I explored my creativity.
I made a plan: A photo a day for 2008. My plan needed some rules, as I find I function best under regulation. I wanted consistency with my photos, so I chose a self portrait. For me, this decision stemmed from having no idea what would be happening or where I would be on any given day. The only thing I know I’ll be around every day, and have time for every day, is me. I’ve done “project 365″, as they have been known in circles on the internet, before so I wanted to make this one special. The restriction on these self portraits is that they are all “from the floor”, meaning the camera is placed on or very near the ground. I have a small tabletop tripod that I’ve been using, though depending on the day and the situation they are sometimes hand-held, or the camera is set on a table, chair or even a hat-box.
I have found freedom in these restrictions. There are definitely days where I don’t have a lot of emotional energy available for photography. And there are of course days when I don’t feel like having my face photographed. Putting the pressure on my feet, so-to-speak, has lifted some of that responsibility. Some of the photos are rather elaborate, some are quite simple. Some feature only my feet, some don’t feature my feet at all (as I’m sitting on the ground). The perspective is unusual, and I’ve found myself searching around rooms looking for interesting viewpoints.
I’m not fully a month into the project, but I feel very motivated by it. There have definitely been days where I get ready for bed and remember I haven’t done the photo yet. But it only takes a few moments to do. For my particular set-up, I’ve found the use of a remote control for my camera absolutely invaluable.
At the end of the year, I’m going to go through these photos. There are going to be standouts, and there are going to be ones I hope I never see again. My plan is to compile them into a book for release in 2009, if for nothing else than to have a copy myself. I have found this project is inspiring me to do photography outside of the project – often by simple motivation that I want “something else” to photograph.
Over the years, and the attempts at this project (twice foiled by failing cameras being gone for more than a month- this year prepared with two DSLRs) I’ve had countless people tell me I inspired them to take on their own projects – of various subjects, sizes and types. I love seeing what it has inspired and look forward to seeing even more.