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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Dailies


Dedicate yourself to a regimented program and gifts may just seem to come your way

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Dewitt Jones publishes a daily photo on his Facebook page, a project with unexpected rewards.

Post a new iPhone photo on Facebook every day? What have I gotten myself into?! Truth be told, more than I ever imagined. I wrote about how I made the decision to commit to this little project in my column "The Beauty Seeker" in the October 2011 issue, how I felt that if beauty was worth dying for, I sure as heck should be taking and sharing a lot more photos.

I decided it wasn't fair to just go back through my files, pick one of the thousands of photos I've taken and post it to the Net. No, the sharing was important, but more than half the reason for this project was just to notice and celebrate the beauty in my day-to-day life. True, some days I'm in very beautiful places, but many days I, like everyone else, am at home or in a restaurant or Costco or Walmart. Could I find beauty there as well?

In my head, I kept hearing Minor White's famous words, "When I go out to shoot I don't ask, 'What will I take today?' But rather, 'What will I be given today?'" As a pro, I knew I could "make" a photo every day, get in the right place, set something up, move things around until I made them into a photograph. But could I actually wait and trust that every day I would be "given" something to photograph? Could I just show up each day in neutral, without judgment, and wait to see what happened?

So I began. At first it was darn difficult not to look at this as an assignment. I'd wake up each morning with my mind churning, "You've already missed sunrise, probably the best light of the day. You'd better make sure you find a good place to be at sunset...or YOU WON'T GET YOUR SHOT!"

I didn't want to completely turn this voice off (I've certainly used my intellect for years to help me take pictures). But, in this case, I didn't want it to dominate the experiment either. If I could easily make time in my day to be in a great place for sunset, so much the better, but if it didn't look like it was going to work out, then I wasn't going to turn myself into a pretzel to "make" it happen.

I wasn't going to try and put myself in the place of most potential; I was just going to see the potential in wherever I was. To do that, I was going to have to take my "noticing" ability up a notch or two.

This, indeed, was the first great gift this project has "given" me. Over the past few months, I've had to let go of all the subtle little judgments about what makes a good photograph and instead just keep myself open to beauty whenever and wherever I happened to find it. A cart path during a golf game, an escalator in an airport, my cat sitting on a bunch of bills—all were moments of beauty if I opened my eyes to them, all were gifts worthy of becoming a photograph. I'd find myself smiling, realizing that I had spent years prowling around forests delighting in shots of trees and rocks and flowers, but until now had never found the same delight in carpet patterns, silverware on a restaurant table or the body language of folks in the grocery checkout line. Notch by notch, my "noticing" kept climbing.

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