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Inspiration: Brad Smith’s photo-a-day blog

February 21st, 2011  |  Published in Featured, Inspire

This month we turn to a year long project by Brad Smith, a Rhode Island photographer who recently completed a photo-a-day project. We asked him to talk a bit about the process. In his own words:

I originally started it after seeing others who had completed similar projects before me and I saw how much they enjoyed doing it.

My wife and I had also recently found out that she was pregnant, and though we hadn’t told anyone else yet, I knew it was going to be a big year in our personal lives and to be able to look back on 2010 in the form of a picture a day was something that really sweetened the pot, so to speak. Little did I know that my son would be born three months early in April and my life would be tipped upside down!

Starting April 20, I was spending very long hours in the NICU with my son, and that place is the same, day after day. I had to struggle sometimes to focus on finding something new or different inside the hospital, because I’d often spend entire days inside his 10×10 foot room. I never thought I’d be that guy that posted so many pictures of my kid – but as I look back over the last year’s images as I type, I can see that I have indeed, become ‘that guy’.

So basically the ‘rules’ made for myself were pretty simple. Each image was to be either an image taken at a ‘real’ shoot that day (i.e. e-session, wedding, senior session, etc), or an iPhone image taken and processed w/ the iPhone. In the back end, I made it VERY simple by doing all the set upbeforehand so all I’d have to do would be to email the photo and text to a specific email address, it’d post to the wordpress site, populate to twitter and facebook from there. If it weren’t that automated, it would have been very difficult to keep it up all year.

There were some days where, for whatever reason, an image didn’t get posted until first thing the next day. I’m usually one to stick pretty tightly to my own rules, and because of that, I made a pretty darn good effort to post each day, on that day. I never skipped a day, though.

It helped me keep my eyes open to my world around me each day. Even days when there was NOTHING going on – like an office day – it’d force me to always be looking for ‘that’ shot. I felt like I was being held accountable by the people that followed the blog each day.

I was also really trying to ‘see’ things around me every day. I felt like I was going through day to day not keeping my eyes open to all the things around me. Sometimes I would see them, but more often than not, I felt like I’d miss the light playing on something, or the way a building or object created a cool pattern when taken out of context. I felt like in order to grow and improve I needed to start documenting something each day.

There were days when I’d get to 11:00 pm and I’d be heading to bed and realize that I didn’t post a picture. I’d cycle back through any images I took during the day on my iPhone, or more often try and find something of interest to photograph. I’ll have to admit that there were some days when I feel like I really wimped out on getting a decent image for that day.

It seemed like such a small task each day, but some days, I felt consumed by the project. I’d be driving thinking, ‘ACK – I should have stopped to take a picture of that”, but would be too far by that point to turn around. A little later in the year, I started to be better about doing things like that. As soon as I’d see something, I’d stop and pull out my iPhone (or 5d if I had it on me) and take the shot. I’m sure I was a pain to be around some days when trying to get somewhere and I’m stopping every 6 feet to take pictures.

I do find that I’m seeing those things more now after the project. I may not take the picture – although sometimes I still do – but feel like I’m seeing a little deeper than I once was. I haven’t yet been able to see how this project will affect the way I work during a wedding day, but I think ( and I hope) I’ll see a positive change in the way I photograph throughout the wedding day.

I left the blog open and functional to post pictures in the same vein as last year, only I’m not holding myself to an image per day. It’s far less frequent. I’ve enjoyed scrolling back through my images on the blog and remembering each day. And I CAN remember each day, because the picture that I posted played a role in that day in one way or another. It’s cool to be able to scroll backwards to April and see how my life changed in an instant. It’s cool to go back and see a picture from all of the weddings I shot this year, and it’s neat to be able to see all the otherlittle things that went on in the meantime.

You don’t know how much or how little you’ll get out of it until you start and finish one of your own.

Check it out!!

About Andree

Andree Kehn has written 38 post in this blog.

Andree is a fun Bethel Maine Wedding Photographer, who specializes in contemporary photojournalism. She eats shoots and leaves.

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