January 1st 2012, I decided to undertake a 365-day Self-portrait challenge. Because last year was a leap year, it turned into a 366-day, but hey, who's complaining about one extra shot in a year of so many?
My "about me" portrait was just one of the many that I took last year. It's probably one of my favorite self portraits. It shows my big brown eyes, my engagement and wedding rings, my grandfather's fedora, and a whole lot of my personality - all contained in one shot.
I started the year with over 150 people, who like me, decided to challenge themselves to truly learn the art of "self-portraiture". What a year. I bought more equipment for my Olympus then I had ever planned on buying.
I learned to use beautiful "sun flares" for creativity. I suddenly was trying things like "ghosting", silhouettes, and light painting. I made faces and shared my life with those who wanted to take a look. I was open about life with diabetes, from my overly calloused fingers, to my infusion locations, and my cracked and broken pump. I openly shared with everyone my deep love of Jif Peanut Butter (that love became a running joke with my new found 365 friends). One of my portraits, "A Postcard of Chaska", even took third place in a regional Holiday photography contest. I'll be honest, I truly learned my camera and how to push it to do things I had only dreamed of.
The hardest part of this, in all seriousness, was just finding the time. Throughout the year, I worked two jobs and I really didn't want to "phone it in". I wanted portraits that pushed me to learn something new, something more than grabbing my point-n-shoot. (which I did use as I drove down the highway and took pictures, or when it was what was in my purse when I saw what I wanted to capture)
In the end, ~30-35 of us finished the challenge. Two of my favorite people will finish soon. (Hi Monica and Sam, love you both!) In November, 20 of us (Rob's brother Bill is missing in this picture), went to Vegas for four days of taking pictures, skipping sleep, learning, and building life long friendships. We came from as far as Sweden to as close as Arizona. We all came from different beliefs, walks of life, and experiences. Liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans (which was really interesting because it was shortly after the Presidential elections). We all shared the same blood and the same love for photography. Even though the whole group couldn't make the trip, I think the relationships with those members are just as strong despite their absence.
In closing, while this group has moved on to other endeavors, can you guess who decided to undertake this challenge again? I know I can never duplicate this group or the experience, I know I'll get out of it, what I put into it - a little bit of "Daffy" and a whole lot of fun!