Project 365 Retrospective

 
 
I recently completed my first “365” project, where participants take a new photo every day for an entire year. My goal was simply to push myself to become a better photographer. I defined two rules for this undertaking. First, I had to pick up the camera and take a new photo every single day for the duration of the project. I was not allowed to “save up” extra photos for use on subsequent days. Second, I had to post the photos publicly, so everyone in the entire world could potentially see them. This provided motivation to “put my best foot forward”. I also had an optional third goal of posting photos on the same day they were taken. I knew this might not always be possible, but I came close to making it happen anyway.  
 
My project started on August 24, 2011 and continued through August 22, 2012. Yes, because of the leap year, I probably should have undertaken a “366” project so my Type-A tendencies wouldn’t be so deeply offended by the “missing” photo on August 23rd. 🙂 The result was a collection of 365 published photos, thousands of unpublished attempts, new insight into my camera’s operation, and daily practice with post-processing software and techniques. Some of my results were disappointing. Others were quite satisfying. All in all, I found the experience to be a worthwhile, challenging, and extremely rewarding endeavor.  
 
If you have ever thought about taking on your own Project 365, I strongly encourage you to do so. Nearly everyone who has taken the plunge has ended up pleased with the experience. Need some guidance and words of wisdom? Here is a short list of suggestions and personal observations. Take whatever you find valuable; ignore the rest. After all, it’s your personal project, and you can do with it as you please. There are no “laws” to follow… you get to define your own path.  
 
Keep It Simple – Decide what you want to accomplish, put together a list of rules/principles for the project, and commit to a start date. No need to be overly complicated.  
 
Engage Photographic Community – I can’t stress enough the motivation provided by a vibrant online community. Whether you use Facebook, Flickr, Google+, or other services, seek out and connect with people who are actively engaged with photography. I found a particularly engaged community on Google+, and recommend checking out the G+ 365 Project group for a great starting place.  
 
Plan For Lack Of Motivation – If you’re anything like me, you will certainly have days where you don’t want to deal with taking a photo. Come up with a contingency plan to fall back on. For me, I always left the door open to take a quick snapshot of my big toe if I couldn’t come up with anything else. Sometimes there is value in just pushing through and getting to the next day.  
 
Don’t Apologize – My internal voice always tells me to explain or justify what I perceive as “poor” work. Perhaps easier said than done, but try to avoid that trap if at all possible. It isn’t necessary. Some days will be better than others. It’s the same for all of us.  
 
Keep On Keepin’ On – The value of taking on Project 365 isn’t necessarily realized in the resultant collection of photographs, but in the process itself. The experience will change the way you look at the world, and will undoubtedly increase your skill level. All of this by simply taking the journey.  
 
If you choose to accept the challenge, I wish you well and look forward to seeing your work. Feel free to leave a link to your project in the comments below! In the meantime, here is the calendar of photos from my Project 365 undertaking:  
 
AUGUST 2011
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SEPTEMBER 2011
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OCTOBER 2011
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NOVEMBER 2011
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DECEMBER 2011
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JANUARY 2012
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FEBRUARY 2012
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APRIL 2012
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MAY 2012
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JULY 2012
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AUGUST 2012
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Handling Reflections Redux

I am making changes to the website in both style and substance. One addition I hope to use on a regular basis is a “Photo Blog” feature where I can share photos with (optional) tutorials or narratives. This first entry is a “re-do” of a photo taken during my Project 365 endeavor. There were numerous flaws in the original image that became painfully evident about eight seconds after posting it for the world to see. In hindsight, the angle of my screen made it difficult to notice artifacts introduced in post processing. The reflection of the handle is distorted and plagued with artifacts from Lightroom’s spot-removal tool. This new version is my attempt to correct those deficiencies.

St. Joseph’s Cemetery (Bancroft)

Tracing the “Kelly” surname back from my particular branch of the family tree will lead you to St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery near Bancroft, Nebraska. This is where my great-great grandfather is buried, along with several other family members. Images for all headstones at this cemetery can be found on the NebraskaGravestones.org website.
 
  Michael Kelly ( b. 1849 d. 1921 ) Johanna Evans ( b. 1858 d. 1882 ) Edward Kelly ( b. 1882 d. 1882 ) Mary Cronin ( b. 1868 d. 1907 )   John R. Kelly ( b. 1878 d. 1958 ) Minnie Pearl Peterson ( b. 1882 d. 1914 )
 
  Robert Evans
( b. 1824 d. 1899 )
    Jane Kilroy
( b. 1838 d. 1904 )
 
  Alvin Browning
( b. 1880 d. 1969 )
  Mary Jane Kelly
( b. 1874 d. 1953 )

There are actually two cemeteries near Bancroft. St. Joseph’s Cemetery is located to the southeast of town at the corner of 25th Road and R Road (both of which are dirt roads). The other cemetery — “Bancroft Cemetery” — is located directly south of Bancroft on 24th Road.  

Westlawn-Hillcrest Memorial Park

Four different family members are buried at Westlawn-Hillcrest Memorial Park in Omaha, Nebraska. It is interesting to note that the birth year for William Street is listed on his headstone as being 1878, which is two years earlier than indicated on other source documents.
 
  David Theodore Boese ( b. 1901 d. 1990 ) Elsie Marie Ackley ( b. 1902 d. 1995 )   William Street ( b. 1880 d. 1952 ) Caroline Sarah Warman ( b. 1878 d. 1982 )

 
Westlawn-Hillcrest Memorial Park is located at 5701 Center Street, Omaha, NE, 68106. From Google Maps:  

Photo – Kelly – circa 1895

This is a photograph of my great-great grandfather Michael Kelly with (I assume) his first three children. My best guess is that it was taken in the late 1890’s. Handwritten notes on the back of the photograph list four names: Grandfather Kelly “Mike”, Aunt Nell, Dad Kelly (J.R.), Aunt Jane (standing). From everything I have seen previously, I am guessing that “Aunt Nell” is a reference to the person identified as “Ellen” in other sources.
 
Michael Kelly (left), Mary Jane Kelly (top), Ellen Kelly (bottom), JR (Robert) Kelly (right)

 
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