Today I published the last photo of my 366 on film project on the tumblr page I created for this:
For those of you not familiar with such a project, the goal is to shoot at least one photo each day for an entire year. And since 2016 was a leap year there are 366 days so there should be 366 photos. Some people put more restrictions on themselves for the project, for example shoot exactly one photo each day (not more, not less), or use one lens or one medium only. I gave myself the only restriction that the photo must be made on film.
So now this project is officially finished, although I took the last photo about 6 weeks ago (that’s what you get when you get a lab oversees to develop and scan the film). Time to look back on the project, to collect my thoughts and maybe come to some kind of conclusion. I also made a selection by choosing my two favourites photos for each month, they are presented here throughout the post.
Confession: First of all I should mention that it turned out to be not a true 366. I started with the intention of shooting every day, but quickly days presented itself where I either forgot or where I didn’t want to shoot. I considered to stop the project when that happened, but I decided to continue nonetheless, because most of the days I enjoyed it. So I decided to give myself a break, and let the intention of shooting every day be enough. You can see on my tumblr page that I ended up with 354 days with a photo. But now that I am being honest I should mention that I cheated a bit too, there were days that I used a photo I shot on a different day to fill the gap. My estimate is that I actually took a photo on more than 300 days.
So here are my thoughts after one year of shooting (almost) daily:
- Why: I started the 366 project because I felt I needed to improve my film photography skills and get more comfortable with it. I started with film photography in the fall of 2015, and those first months I was very cautious with it, afraid to mess up, to make mistakes, and to waste expensive film. Most of the times I only took a photo with a film camera after I had already taken one with my digital camera and checked the screen if it had potential.
I think the second part of the goal has been achieved, I am much more relaxed with shooting film now. In fact I think I shoot more film than digital today. For the first part of the goal, I am not so sure. I felt like I had improved my skills, but when I selected my favourites for this post I found a lot of photos I liked from the beginning of the year.
- The gear: I didn’t limit myself to one camera. Most of the photos were made with the Leica M2, but I also shot a decent amount with the Minolta Riva Panorama, a few with the Olympus 35 SP (no longer in my possession) while my M2 was out for maintenance, and a few with the Rollei 35 S. I also didn’t put any restrictions on the film type of manufacturer, so you will find both color and black-and-white, mostly from Kodak but some others too. I can see the elegance of using just one, specifically if you choose one specific black and white film you get a nicer coherent looking set of photos. But I am still exploring different types and found it useful for me to allow myself freedom here. It would be fun to do a similar project with on type of film only, but I think I would not do that for a year, but maybe for a limited time such as 3 months or so.
- The process: I took a film camera with me every day, even on the days that I didn’t take a photo. Work days were easy: I carry my cameras with me in a handle-bar bag on my bike, so I can easily stop wherever I want and reach for a camera to take a shot. Weekends were more tricky, there were days where I didn’t leave the house. In the beginning I was more creative with finding something inside to photograph, such as the glasses in March and the cake in April. But after a while it was difficult to find inspiration in the house, with the extra handicap of the limited light. I guess it would be easier if I had a cat or a dog or a kid, but I don’t even have a goldfish… I guess a positive outcome is that even if a few of those shots made this overview I discovered that I just like shooting nature and landscape better. So this project helped me to explore beyond that, which is nice, but my favourite subject remains the outdoors.
- The results: Like I mentioned in my intro, I also started this project to improve my photography skills, which if I had accomplished that, would show in better photos at the end of the year. Although I felt that I had improved, I am not so sure anymore when I look at all my photos. I found some photos I really like in almost every month. What I notice is that I really need good light. On days with flat light the photos are just not that good. I get inspiration from early morning sunlight, or from sunlight coming in from the windows. That is why to the end of the project there are more days missing, I just stopped trying on days with bad or flat light, because I knew the result would be bad anyway. But I did learn something else when I was looking at all the photos for making this selection. I noticed that I liked quite a lot of the photos taken with the Minolta Riva Panorama and with the Rollei 35 S. The Minolta gets a reasonable amount of outings, usually on holidays, but so far I have only shot two rolls with the Rollei! So my next goal is to take it with me more often, and start shooting color with it as well. I guess one benefit of doing a project like this it that it gives you a reason to look back. I don’t do that enough, but it is educational!
- Conclusion: I think technically I should call this project a failure, as I didn’t succeed in taking a photo every day. But I did get something out of this, I did get more relaxed with shooting film, I found some new love for kodak Ektar, and I discovered that I really like the results I get with the Riva Panorama and the Rollei. It was nice to have a mindset of taking photos everyday. I think if I pushed myself a bit more to shoot on days where I wasn’t inspired I could have potentially found more technical skills, but I guess that was just too far to reach for this year. In practise I have finished this project in December, so I have been without it for about six weeks, and I do miss it. I started a new project with the Instax camera, but I miss the variation of this project. I didn’t follow it up as I already started three projects for this year, which seemed enough, but I might think of some small projects to replace this one. I have to think about it for a while, but if you have some suggestions, please let me know.
Thanks for reading!