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.

4 Steps to Organized Photos

Digital photo thumbnails

Four simple steps will help you keep your digital photos protected and organized.

I’ve traveled a lot the past several weeks, which means I also have taken hundreds of photos. And, I know where they all are. I also never worry about my memory card being full because I download as soon as I return from a trip.

If your digital photos are overwhelming you, here are a few tips to help you get organized.

Download your photos after you return from a trip. If you also take daily photos as I do or snap images weekly then be sure to download at least once a month. If you take your photos on your phone be sure they are backed up automatically. If not, be sure to download monthly.

Delete the bad shots as soon as you take them. Once you have downloaded your photos review them and delete duplicates and poor-quality shots. “In reality, bad photos are just clutter, making it harder to find the good ones,” says Kristy Holch of Techlicious.

Create folders on your computer to store your photos. All of mine go into the “Photos” folder. Then I have subfolders that are labeled with the name of the holiday, the vacation or the topic. I also include the date. It makes it easier for me to find them later. Sometimes I save a photo to two places. I do this especially when I think a photo might work for my blog.

Back up your photos once you have uploaded everything. Do these each time you upload a new batch of photos. Having once lost a set of digital photos, I’m a bit obsessive. I back up to an external hard drive and an online storage service. Because I scrapbook, I also often have a set of prints.

When is the last time you organized your photos?

Finding, Capturing Life’s Moments

For the past six months, I’ve been taking a photo a day. It’s intended to get me to pause and enjoy the moments of each day this year despite a busy schedule.

Produce stand

The colors at this produce stand made me pause and enjoy the scents of all the fruits and vegetables. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

During a recent vacation, it was quite easy to take a photo a day. I probably took 100 photos a day!

For the most part, I’ve not had a problem. I’ve found myself playing more with my photography and trying to figure out how to capture the smell of a spring day, the sound of leaves rustling in a tree before a storm or the smell of a peach cobbler fresh from the oven – all things that provided me with simple joy on a particular day.

Some days, though, it’s more difficult, especially on busy work days. And yet as I leave the office and think, “It’s 7 o’clock and I’ve yet to take a photo,” I rewind the day and realize there were many moments in the day, I could and should have photographed.

I now have an office with a window (my first one in 15 years!) so the view is always worth a photograph. Sometimes I wish I had photographed a great presentation (really!). One day I did photograph a colleague because we always made sure to smile when we saw each other. It was her last day before she moved out of the area and so we took a photograph with big smiles. That photo makes me smile.

Once in a while I think I’ll just stop the project. I’ve done it for six months, why continue? The answer is that I need to keep finding the joy and the moments in each day. It would be too easy to overlook them, and I don’t want to do that.

At the end of each week, I add the photo to a PowerPoint presentation I’m keeping for myself. One slide, one day, one photo. Of course, some days, I’ve actually put multiple photos on the slide. There are no real rules, except to find the moments each day.

I wonder what I’ll discover in the next six months?

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.