365/365: Calendar Girl on Flickr.
This is it. One year and two months later I’m finally finished.
I’ve has this idea in my head since the beginning of February, when the possibility of finishing actually started to become real. Before venturing up to Mount Laguna to take this photo and the previous one, Andrew and I stopped by the store so I could pick out a bouquet of roses. My very first self-portrait of this project is of me holding a dead rose with a pessimistic description underneath it about how love and relationships are overrated. I wanted to incorporate that into this photo but with an entirely different feeling…optimism and hope.
This may not be the best piece I’ve ever created, but it was the most difficult to shoot. After taking my photo for day 364, we back-tracked down the mountain road to where we first saw snow. We thought it would be smart to confide in Siri for directions to a snowy place near a hotel lodge. She told us to turn on Boiling Springs Road, which was soon to become our personal hell hole for the next five hours.
The weather report said it was sunny and beautiful and that we would be ok without chains. We turned on to the little road and quickly realized that it was a big mistake. The road was slick with ice and muddy where the snow had melted. My Toyota Corolla didn’t stand a chance. We got stuck after driving for five minutes and had to dig the tires out to keep going. We managed to get out of that bad spot only to get stuck again driving up a muddy slope. This time the car wasn’t moving. We spent the next hour trying to get the car to move until I broke down and called AAA. I didn’t want it all to be for nothing, so while we were waiting for AAA, I got my stuff together and we went to scout out a place to shoot.
I found this untouched snowy clearing and starting setting up. As soon as I starting unpacking the tripod, a truck with two firefighters in it came zooming down the road. Thinking they were going to get my car, I sent Andrew running after them. The sun was fading fast so instead of going with him, I put on my dress and took off my shoes to start shooting. The pain was agonizing and my feet turned into bricks when they hit the snow. It hurt so bad I wanted to cry.
The firemen and Andrew got my car unstuck and he drove past me waving. The car got stuck again half a mile down the road and I had to walk to go meet them. Turns out AAA doesn’t cover you if you don’t have chains on your tires and they wanted to charge me $100 to pull the car out. Luckily the two firemen (who just happened to be going for a drive that day) offered to help us. I waited back at the fire station while the three of them got my car. Finally, at 8 at night we were able to go home.
I’ve imagined what this moment would feel like since I started my 365 project last January. Before that even, back when I was following the 365s of the photographers who inspired me to start my own. I never completed the 365 I started in the summer of 2011…it became too much for me and I dropped out at around 30 days. I entered 2012 with the New Year’s resolution to finish what I had started. While most started a 366 last year to honor the leap year, I started a 365 on January 2nd (due to alcohol-induced sickness from the night before…AKA hang over from hell).
The first week or so is always so exciting…I remember that feeling well. I started off taking a photo of anything and everything, just for the sake of taking a picture everyday. I’m not exactly sure when I decided to devote my project to purely self-portraits, but from that point on, I became more serious about what I was doing. At first, the thought of taking pictures of myself in public was absolutely terrifying. When I did venture outside, I made sure to scout out the most secluded locations possible. If someone so much as looked at me while I was shooting, I would immediately pack up my bag and take off. I didn’t have the slightest idea of what I was doing.
I holed myself up in my room for hours each day, shooting, uploading and then editing. I wasn’t satisfied until my photo was up on Flickr before I went to bed. I sacrificed time I could have spent on homework or with friends in favor of this project. I was embarrassed to tell anyone about what I was doing…for a while the only people I confided in were souls I had never met in person- my Flickr family. I’ve been both praised and ridiculed for this project. I lost myself in it, but found myself again in the process. There was so much to lose and also so much to gain.
As the days dragged on, I became more comfortable going outside in the open. I got over what people were thinking about me and just went for it. The bigger the risk, the bigger the pay off and the better my photos turned out. Eventually, setting up for shoots became as routine to me as brushing my teeth. I brought my camera and tripod with me everywhere, never wanting to miss the opportunity to shoot in a new location or to run out of light. I became borderline obsessed with catching the sunset, which is NOT easy to do everyday between school, work, maintaining a social life and dealing with whatever else life throws at you.
So how do you summarize a year in words? Within the past year, I completed two semesters of college, attended my sister’s graduation, quit my barista job, became the photo editor of the newspaper, bought a new camera, got an internship, moved into a new house, traveled to Mexico twice, witnessed hundreds of sunsets, lost old friends, met new friends, turned 21, went skydiving, celebrated my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary in November and then attended my grandpa’s funeral in February, got the worst sunburn of my life, came down with the flu, laughed, smiled, cried, sobbed, had my heart broken and fell in love. But that’s just surface stuff. The truth is you can’t remember everything. Memories escape you faster than you can hold on to them. It’s easy to remember milestones in your life, but what about all the seemingly insignificant moments that happen on ordinary days? I had a fiery determination to try and capture these moments in photos. Memories come rushing back to me when I look at these pictures. I can remember where I was, who I was with, how I took the picture, how I edited it, (parts) of what I did that day and how I felt.
I owe the biggest thank you to all of my friends, family and all of you here who pushed me to finish this. I’m not trying to sound cliché, but I couldn’t have done it without your support. I owe the biggest thank you of all to Andrew who has believed in me from the beginning, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I’ve been working on this project since I first met him last April. It’s sort of surreal for both of us for it to finally be over. He never judged me. He was always willing to drive with me to scout out new locations and was always patient with me when things didn’t turn out as planned. I never would have finished this without him.
I’m so excited to finally put this behind me, but it’s a bittersweet feeling. I know now more than ever that photography is something I wouldn’t mind doing for the rest of my life. A week and a half later and I still get anxiety watching the sun go down without my camera….
Time for the next chapter…I’m ready.