A Year of Gratitude

Sometimes focusing on a few details is better than looking at the whole picture.

That lesson can apply to so much in life, whether it’s the big project you have due at work, the house that needs a good spring cleaning or a photography project.

It’s one of the lessons I took away from my photo of the day project in 2012. There are many such project outs there. Some people look for letters in architecture. Some people photograph a menu each day. Mine was simple: 365 Days, 365 Photos.

I haven’t taken a photo since Dec. 31. It feels weird but I wanted to give myself a break. I suspect I’ll still be taking lots of photos but even if I don’t it’s okay because now images are captured in my mind.

I did learn much from my project, including:

  1. I still have lots to learn about photography. I worked hard to capture good images, but I didn’t always succeed. I sometimes ended up with some blurry photos. And you know what? That’s okay because life isn’t always clear.
  2. I definitely was more observant. I learned to look at the big picture – the sweeping vista of a vineyard in Tuscany, for example. I also looked at the details, such as the green olives on the trees that bordered the vineyard.
  3. I smiled more because I was more aware of my surroundings and the simple pleasures of life. I noticed the tiny details – the grace notes – of life.
  4. Even on the most challenging days, if I simply paused, there was much to be grateful for and this project helped me to remember that.

I’ve collected all the photos in a PowerPoint presentation. One slide, one day, one photo (although sometimes multiple photos). When I look through the photos, I realize that nature is a good thing, and I need to spend more time in it. I came to appreciate when the sun set and rose and the different phases of the moon. I was aware of the different cloud shapes.

I didn’t photograph my friends, but rather the experiences we were having, such as book club, dinner out, a walk, shopping.  It led to one of my realizations, which is that I’d rather have experiences than possessions.

Most importantly, I learned I have lots for which to be grateful.

Lessons in Photography


Sometimes it's good to not only smell the flowers -- or redbuds -- but also to photograph them. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Today is day 88 of my 365 days of photos. I confess there have been a few days where I thought about simply stopping. However, just when I think it’s not worth my time, something catches my eye, and I have the photo for the day.

Early in my 365 project, I photographed many sunrises and many moons.  That didn’t bode well in terms of enjoying the moments of the day. But almost 100 days later, I’ve already learned some things, including:

  1. Photography is hard. Yes, I know that is an obvious statement. I’ve always taken good photos. I had never pushed myself as a photographer, though, and now I find myself trying to figure out lighting and distance and angles to get the right shot. So while I’m capturing my moment or grace note for the day, I’m also practicing my photography.
  2. It’s the little things. One day at work, I observed a big square of sunshine. It made me smile, and I photographed it. It was winter and it had been bleak for some time. That square of sunlight made my day.
  3. All the senses matter. As I try to capture the moments of my day I’m struck by how much more aware of my other senses I am. How do I capture the laughter at book club or the smell of the first spring day where the sun warms the air?
  4. Live in the moment. Sometimes I get home and think, “Why didn’t I take a picture of that?” Sometimes we’re so busy that we do forget to enjoy the moment.
  5. Share your passion. I’ve been telling friends and even strangers about my project. I’ve photographed the handyman who fixed all kinds of things around the house. How wonderful to know those are off my list of things to do. I’ve photographed library events and lecturers and other runners.

Simple pleasures include walking and gardening in the same day. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Will I make it another 265 days (and then some)? I’m not sure, but I hope so.

In my first 100 days, I’ve already learned a few lessons. I suspect there are more lessons yet to be learned.