Sunday, November 4, 2012

What I Learned...



This past month, for the first time, my blog and I participated in Fat Mum Slim’s photo-a-day challenge. This was the first time since the April A-Z blogging challenge that I committed to doing and sharing something every day.

As it turned out, I didn’t end up doing it every day. Nonetheless, I had a lot of fun and learned a few things along the way.

• I discovered creativity in myself. Although I had printed out her list of topics for photos and spent a few days thinking about it, I had pretty much decided against it, largely because the prompt for the first day of the challenge was “take a picture of where you’re standing.” That didn’t sound very inspiring to me. Then, as I was going down my stairs, I stopped on a step and looked down, and the light of imagination came on. Right in front of me, an interesting picture of where I’m standing! Voila—I was in. So I began to look at things differently.

• I found myself noticing creativity by others. This was one of my favorite photos from the challenge. These gourds were on the table in a restaurant where my husband and I had dinner in Troy, New York, and when I saw them, I had to take the photo. I love the creativity of whoever put them there and set them this way, like cuddling swans!


• I carried my camera with me more often, on walks with my dog, to restaurants, looking for things I might not ever have noticed otherwise, and found them.


• Even though I “cheated” a little sometimes by using photos I already had in my files, I discovered a new purpose for these pictures and a new way of looking at them. They became more than just random shots; they became part of a project. And I learned to think selectively and creatively through the process of finding photos to fit a given idea. Now I’m thinking about possibly organizing my photos according to theme and—do something(?) with them!

• I learned that I like taking pictures at restaurants.

• And pictures of signs.

• My favorite topics were the ones that were sort of abstract: shadow, light, angle, color. These let me really use my imagination.

• This is the first digital camera I’ve had, and I’ve had it a little over a year. It’s fun and easy to use, but it has its limitations. I’m used to using an SLR, and I like having a long telephoto and especially a macro lens. I had some trouble with the “closeup” prompt;  I wanted to take a very close shot of one of my medieval coins, but I couldn’t get close enough to get the detail without blurring. So I may eventually considering getting a digital SLR. 

• Now the negative lesson, or as a better term, self-insight. I have trouble following through on things over the long term. I tend to start enthusiastically but then lose momentum later on. I found that this happened with this challenge as the month went along. I began skipping days. Mostly these were days on which the prompts didn’t really catch my interest, but I also became too lazy to really think about them and try to find a creative angle.
Looking back, I see that I missed about six days’ worth of photos. There were no rules for this challenge, but still I feel I let myself down a little bit. I know that I can do things in month-long stretches; I’ve completed NaNoWriMo and the A-Z blogging challenge. So the next time I decide to do this, I hope to be able to finish all of it.

Finally, doing this challenge has reminded me of why I began this blog: as a way of celebrating the things that we don’t always notice, the small things that may not seem important in themselves but that all together give life its richness. I know that many of my posts this year have dealt with sadness and loss, but those things are also part of the richness of life, because without them, we wouldn’t know how to appreciate what we have. Another purpose of my blog was to celebrate lifelong learning…so this is what I’m doing here! And I’m sure I’ll take up this challenge again in some future month.


  1. Love how you found/enhanced another craetive outlet Elaine. I remember from your love of Georgia O'Keefe some discussions we had regarding light, color, etc. I enjoyed the pictures you posted and liked the ones that made my mind stretch to realize the connection. I'm coming to realize for myself that all the little things I am learning about myself (good and bad) are all important. Nice job!

    1. Thank you, Amy. Yes, I think it is important to learn as much as we can, including about ourselves, and we never do stop learning that! O'Keeffe is one of my favorite artists because of the way she really gets inside flowers, for example, and shows them to us in ways we've never seen them before. I love photography that also does that, and aspire to do a little of that in my own photography. Thanks for reading and commenting so quickly!

  2. Really interesting post Elaine! I found myself agreeing and wanting to comment on so much of what you shared here. I was like ... Yes. and Oh, I do that too. Oh, me too.!

  3. Great post Elaine!! I may have to try the photo a day challenge the next time it ccomes around :) Cheers, Jenn.

  4. Good analysis of a challenge like this. I certainly felt similarly about A-Z. Let me know when this one happens again and I'll take phone pictures, which won't be half as good, but we do see some wacky things everyday.

    Good work for keeping up with it as you could. Good luck on the next one.

  5. Awesome post. So happy for you that you were able to tap into a facet of your creativity you didn't realize you possessed.


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  6. I thought i would stop by to see you (return the favor) and I have to say I am so happy I did. I really like your photos. I always envy anyone who can take good pictures. I love the idea of photography. Notice I said "idea". I have serious confidence issues with actually taking pictures. I don't trust myself (in so many areas, not just photography). I am working on this, but I am not sure I could do a photo challenge. not yet. But seeing your pics gives me the desire to try, one day. I love your eye, your perspective. I will be back to visit, to see what else is going on in your world.