Three years ago I posted a lonely hearts ad on my flickr account.
Girl, 18, (brown hair, hazel eyes, Nikon D40) seeks: Friend, (any age, any camera), for summer photography project.
The One Hundred Days of Summer project was born. The premise was simple: one photograph every day for one hundred days, from June 1st to early September.
Lots of people answered the ad - a testament to flickr's community spirit - and on the first of June I started my Summer Onehundred with Rona Keller. I had only one, very simple aim: to pick up my camera once every twenty-four hours for the next one hundred days, and to document my eighteenth summer. That summer was a gateway from my school years, as I sat my A-level exams, to the first tasted of independent life I'd encounter on my gap year before university. I couldn't have known it then, but the project I had just embarked on was going to capture my favourite holiday, strengthen a blossoming friendship with a fellow photographer, and leave me with a very treasured keepsake.
Three years later, and after two summers spent preparing for university and working in Tanzania I've found myself at another crossroads. Now I am preparing for another journey - but this time it will be a real departure, at the Heathrow security gate, for a voyage to the other side of the world. I am leaving my home for a year to study in California, in the USA.
Transition is a great motivator. I've decided to take on another Summer Onehundred his year.
What do I want out of this year's project? While the premise of this year's project - one hundred days, one hundred pictures - is the same as last time, my reasons and my aims for this Summer Onehundred are a little different.
1. I want to document my last one hundred days in England.
This Summer Onehundred is a countdown. Less than a week after it finishes I'm going to be on a plane headed for west coast USA, travelling away from everyone I love. It'll be a new adventure, but one which I don't doubt will have a somewhat rocky start. Having a photographic keepsake of my summer back home will be useful when I'm sad or homesick, I hope. It's also a good talking point when making new friends. Plus, using the project as a countdown will help focus my mind on the important things in the coming weeks. Noting daily how much time I have left at home will make sure I concentrate on what really matters. See also:
2. I want to make the most of my summer.
To make a good project, you need good photographs, and for good photographs you need good experiences. My last Onehundred was packed with parties, day trips, photoshoots, room-redecorating, and a sailing holiday. This project is excellent motivation to coax me out of my natural anti-social introvert. I do more stuff, and have a better time doing it, with a camera around my neck. This is reinforced by:
3. I want to get used to constantly having a camera in my hand again.
When I undertook this project three years ago I didn't yet know that I wanted to be a photojournalist. (That would take a trip to southern Africa six months later, and the time spent there volunteering at an orphanage and in a hospital's paediatric ward.) Even so, "documenting" was important to me, and by the end of the project I had begun to recognise the extent to which I appreciate photography not just as an artistic medium, but as a tool to record the world around me.
But while in the years since I have explored the academic and theoretical side to my photojournalistic interest, my practical experience has largely diminished. Upgrading my equipment to a bulkier body and heavier lenses, twinned with the fact that I record a lot of my day to day life in analogue for my film diary now, (a very different kind of "photojournalism",) has stopped me from carrying around my DSLR the way I used to. I want to get used to working in digital again. Which leads me to:
4. I want to get better at working within restrictions.
Linden is impractical for carrying around all day. It's time to lose the heavy lenses and the bulky battery grip, and learn to make do wonders with just a 50mm and a beat up D700. The tripod's mostly out too. Time to say goodbye to endless self-portraits (my general fallback on days when I'm lacking inspiration), and hello to better use of models, friends, and perhaps strangers. This ties in with:
5. I want to expand my horizons.
Figuratively and literally. I want to try my hand at lots of different photographic genres over the next few months, and I want to improve my skills in certain techniques. I have a little tick-list made up of shots I want to try, like a star trail and some watery long-exposure landscapes. I also want to build on projects I'm already shooting, like my lovers' landscapes. And I'd like some time for the sort of narrative portraiture I used to shoot during my Fifty-two Weeks, which is both useful self-therapy and a chance to improve my expansion technique in photoshop.
On the other hand, I don't want any of this to come at the expense of documentary. This project should be about capturing my daily life, rather than creating particularly pretty pictures. What I've learnt by looking back on my last project, though, is that quite often the making of said pretty picture becomes quite an important part of said daily life. It becomes difficult to work out if you're photographing your living, or living your photographs. I don't want all of my photographs to be staged, as yesterday's was, but days when I'm sitting around at home without much to do or to photograph are a good opportunity to practice photographic techniques like the brenizer method, and to give my time to images which aren't purely documentary.
Before the end of the project I'm hoping to write up a few blogposts for other photographers who are shooting their own onehundreds. I've not buddied up with anyone this year, but I do enjoy following other projects and seeing how photographers put their own variations on the original theme. If you're doing a Summer Onehundred, leave me a comment or message me - I'd love to take look at your project! I'll be doing a roundup here on my blog each week, too. You can follow my project as I upload on my Summer Onehundred flickrstream, or on my Facebook page. In the meantime, it's day five, and time to collect some photographs.