Monday, 1 January 2018

The 2017 Photo a Day Photography Challenge: A Reflection

At the start of 2017, I set myself the challenge to post a photo to this blog every day in an effort to explore my photography hobby. Yesterday I posted my final photo for the year and felt an unexpected moment of sadness. It was unexpected because it has been testing at times. For certain stretches of the year, during busy periods at work, it was hard to find the time to post on a daily basis. I found at my most productive periods I was taking hundreds of shots and pre-scheduling a weeks' worth of photos, but at other times I had to get creative with my posting. It was simultaneously enjoyable and challenging- and now, looking over the collages above, there is a feeling of achievement (for someone who doesn't always feel they have achieved much). In fact, I posted twice on a few days by accident. 


Like many people, I'm not really any good with new year's resolutions; the idea of making them is appealing, but I'm old enough now to be quite cynical about the whole thing. So it was a nice surprise that this photography challenge is one vow to myself that paid off- and a wonderful celebration of life in all its mundanity and beauty. It's been such a rewarding year and I would highly recommend any novice, or more experienced photographer set themselves this challenge for 2018.

An interesting finding from this year has been the recurrent themes that have surfaced in my photographs. My appreciation for nature has been one of these- not something I particularly would have expected. Flowers, clouds, even leaves have given me a lot of scope for images, particularly when editing and thinking about colour. I've also enjoyed looking at elements of the man-made world, with pleasing results when photographing reflections in windows and graffiti. I even found myself coming up with mini 'projects' within the overall challenge, such as re-creating some famous art works and capturing aspects of the man-made environment against flat backgrounds. 

It made sense to look back on my work from across the year, so I'm choosing one photo from each month that I was most pleased with to showcase in this post. 

And what lies ahead for 2018? The plan is to post a triptych a week: three photos combined to form one overall piece of photography. This will give some scope for creativity and should stretch me to continue taking photos on a regular basis. I'd like to work on both conceptual and narrative skills in my photography. Bravery with photographing strangers is also something I'd like to conquer. We'll see how that one goes!

So here's to 2017, the year of the Photo a Day challenge:
Favourite photo:
My Baby
Of course, I couldn't resist this one. This is the photo of our cat, Maisie, that I'm most proud of to date (and I've taken a lot this year!) I was quite new to using Photoshop at this point in the year and I really like the detail and colour I brought out. The focus on her beautiful facial features and her expression make me really happy. She's adorable.
Favourite photo:
Paul
This was one of those unplanned, spontaneous shots when I was at my mother-in-law's house. I took my camera most places with me in 2017 as I was posting everyday (a habit I will hang on to for 2018). It only occurred to me when seeing this photo uploaded onto my computer that it had a likeness to Paul C├ęzanne's still life paintings. This set me off on a mini project, interpreting other art works in photography which was really good fun; I even posed as 'The Girl in the Pearl Earring'! The edited shot is quite 'Photoshop 101', but I was learning and playing, plus the complementary colours make this image striking, I think.
Favourite photo:
Day at the Theatre
Taken at the London Palladium, this photo takes me back to seeing The Divine Comedy for the second time live in concert. The colour tones give this a cosy quality and I'm happy to have captured a sweet little moment here pre-show.
Favourite Photo:
Portrait Profile 1
My brother is a good model! Here he is in The Orangery at Knole House in Kent. The title should probably read: Profile Portrait, but I didn't change the title. This is another one that I had some fun editing, bringing out the sharpness and colours. I also remember that I moved the hole in the wall to match his eye-line! There wasn't really a particular reason, but it made sense to me aesthetically at the time!
Favourite Photo:
L'escalier
Is this pretentious?! If it is, I don't care! A simple black and white shot taken inside the Tate gallery in London. There's something really pleasing about this image, perhaps its simplicity.
Favourite photo:
Molly
The Poole Folk Festival was a great opportunity for photography and I captured some fun shots of Morris dancing. This Molly dancer was posing perfectly and I asked her if I could take her picture (a rare moment of boldness on my part as I usually shy away from invading people's personal space). She looks part bemused, part proud!
Favourite photo:
Nitrate
This is one of those 'flat background' shots I was talking about earlier. The focus/ clarity isn't quite as good as I would want it, but the colour is striking. I got a tripod for Christmas, so I'll be trying out some similar shots this year to see what difference it makes. This photo stood out for me because it is one of those times when something is both ugly and yet interesting with the colour and flowers as a juxtaposition with the tasteless graffiti and grimy rust staining the wall.
Favourite photo:
Beauty
A lot of Photoshop playtime here! Here I am with the complementary orange and blue again and I really like the outcome. This was taken near where I live, looking down on the beautiful swans and ducks.
Favourite Photo:
Studded
A narcissistic choice perhaps, but I like this black and white shot; I find it to be disturbing and alien, despite it being a self portrait. The taste buds are quite gross to look at, yet the pearlescent effect of the lipstick heightens the overall shot to something that flirts with the idea of glamour. This was the month that we went to the Folkestone Triennial, so there was a lot to pick from this month. I like the big shot in the collage and also the photo I took of Maisie, but this one was an interesting bit of fluke photography whilst messing around with the camera.
Favourite Photo:
Siblings
Taken in Bournemouth before it got really cold, the composition of this photo is why I am drawn to it most. It was taken in colour, but the light and shade worked best in black and white. This image captures a quiet moment within a busy, noisy scene.
Favourite Photo:
Free Love Freeway
From black and white to glorious colour- this was taken driving home from Bournemouth on the same day as the previous photo. I didn't have to do too much with the colour here as it was already a pleasing bokeh effect and I had originally shot on a colour-enhancing camera mode. As a side note, the Sony A5000 compact system camera is a brilliant choice for the amateur who wants to experiment with different lenses. I've used it for a good few years now and find it to be reliable, portable and comprehensive. I also feel like I've barely scratched the surface on what it can achieve.
Favourite Photo:
Forever
This photo makes me really emotional. My 22 year-old baby brother and our beloved family cat, aged 18. It was an impromptu shot, taken on seeing this one sweet moment after a huge Christmas dinner. I think it will always be one of the most poignant photos I've ever taken...


And on that rather heartfelt statement, that was my 2017 in photos.

Happy New Year! Here's to another year of fun and photography. Thank you for checking in.



Gemma  x


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