Monday, April 20, 2009

The Challenge

I recently accepted a challenge. There is this other place online that I frequent regularly-- sometimes I refer to it as The-Evil-And-Addicting-Place, but most of you know it as Facebook. Anyway, this challenge I agreed to take part in is located there. It is called The 365 Day Ashlland Challenge. The only requirement this challenge asks you to fulfill is to take at least one picture a day for 365 days. The idea behind it is to not only learn photography, but it is also to boost creativity and to help us notice the beauty and uniqueness in the world around us-- things we just pass by without paying attention to while we live our lives.

Not loving where I live at the moment, and feeling that my life is rather dull and uninteresting, I was a bit reluctant to take the challenge. I recognized, however, that my life is in a bit of a rut and decided to take the plunge. As a result I am looking at my life with a completely different perspective.

I have never considered myself to be very creative (others will insist that I am just highly strung and need to let loose), so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see just what I'm really made of. But my life is dull and boring. Would I be able to do it?

I took the challenge seriously. The idea is to find beauty in the world around you, and my world is mostly my house and my little street. I kind of made the decision not to go searching outside my normal routine for shots, because then I would be changing my life for pictures, not finding beauty in the life I already live.

In the past, I doubt I ever would have noticed what a great photo opportunity existed in a new mini muffin tin sitting out on the counter to dry after receiving its first bath:

Or what about the way Big's new ball sitting on the back of the couch so coolly reflects not only its own self in the window, but also reflects the world existing outside?

Would I ever have thought to take the push broom leaning against the garage, lay it down on the driveway in the bright sun to take a shot? Probably not.

In the past, I have always focused on taking pictures solely of my children. It is something that I do fairly well and offers me the most return for my buck, as it were. I mean what am I going to do with a bunch of still life photos? The pictures I took of the kids were always pretty standard-- up close shots of their faces that I know can be enjoyed by all. This challenge has changed that. I still take pictures of my kids (they're way too cute not to), but I have been looking for different and more creative ways of capturing the life contained within them.

And if I take a few pictures that aren't of the kids while we're at the park or on a walk... well, that's okay too. I'm allowed. I'm learning that.

A few of my friends also took the challenge (it's through them I learned of it, actually). Some of them have decided to have an "assigned" subject of sorts. One day they'll all photograph books, for example, but each with their own style and take on the matter. They invited me to join in with them, but I decided to stay solo. I was too afraid of narrowing my perspective on my life again.

The way the challenge is going for me now, I am constantly scanning everything I pass by, looking for a photo opportunity (and I mean everything-- do you want to see the pictures of the wheels of my trash can?). I am afraid of missing something great because I was only thinking of the assigned subject for the day. I want to look at everything with new eyes, not just some things on some days. I think it's working grandly for them, but for me I knew it wasn't the right choice.

The other day I took the kids to go pick Rophone up from work. It was raining-- not an easy photo day. I sat in the car with my camera, window rolled down, looking for available shots. If I had accepted the books "assignment", I would have missed this shot.

I know you're thinking, "You could have still taken it." But I know myself. I would have been preoccupied with the kids, thinking of how to creatively photograph books, waiting impatiently for Rophone to emerge from his workplace. It may not be the best shot, but it's one I made an effort to take in a situation when those people normally would have passed me by with probably not much thought on my part. I'm pretty happy about that.

I am noticing the world around me. I am finding beauty in the things that surround me. I am becoming more creative (I think). I recently accepted a challenge.

And it is changing my life.


janeannechovy said...

Jana, this is a great post.

Sassymama said...

This is a fabulous idea!
What great pictures you have taken.
I am especially impressed with the broom in the sun thingy. A different perspective, indeed.

Jen said...

I love how you have taken a photography challenge and turned it into a life challenge. It inspires me to take a fresh look at life and know that it doesn't HAVE to be mundane, but it will be if I allow it to be. I also see growth in your images and agree that you are getting more creative. You are capturing some truly artistic and unique subjects! Now I get to put you on a small pedestal and let you inspire me. Thanks! :D

Pat said...

LQ - This could be a published essay in a women's (or other) magazine. You are a very creative thinker, writer, and now photographer! Why don't you submit it somewhere for publication?

The Laundry Queen said...

Thank you all for your comments! I guess this post was from a deeper place than I realized, as I got a bit teary eyed reading them.

Pat-- I would love to think that I could publish something somewhere, but have no idea how to go about it. I wrote this post while the boys were watching Sesame Street, and looking at it again now there are things I think I could write better or more clearly. But, I decided to leave it. It was from the heart when I wrote it and from the heart it will remain. ; )

janeannechovy said...

I think it might be appropriate for one of the Mormon Mommy group blogs (Segullah, Mormon Mommy Wars). I can check into it if you like.

jwise said...

Ooooh!!! Those are so fantastic!! I'm glad you didn't confine yourself to a given subject every day. What a fun challenge. You are REALLY going to enjoy that. Those are GREAT shots!! I look forward to seeing more.

Klayman said...

I have been enjoying the photos since you started posting them on Evilbook. They are indeed good and remind me of some published work by famous photographers in book form. You have a great eye for framing and presenting your subject. I like the minimalistic knife that you trim your work with. Now don't go getting a big head with all this praise, I want to keep seeing the good art you got going. There are book making services out there, my sister does Heritage Makers, and I think Apple's iPhoto will do it. You could fool people with a coffee table book, not knowing it is your work until you tell them. These are taken in high resolution, right?

The Laundry Queen said...

jwise-- I'm glad you're enjoying my photos. It's so great to be back in touch!

Klay-- you are a nice, nice man. ; )
I don't edit my shots (other than to click on the button to make them black and white on occasion), so you're right-- very minimal knife wielding. I don't even know if they're taken in high res. Guess I better figure that out, huh?