Well, here we are then. I suppose with shot 365 it is compulsory to give some kind of reflection on the project as a whole, and I warn you - this could get philosophical ;) Skip to the end if you get bored. :)
Firstly, I can honestly say that I started the project with little expectation that I would finish it. It has, however, proven to be easier than I expected. I know that Laura spent many frustrating days trying to think of something to snap, but I had a rather easier time of it. She had no mobile phone camera, and a very camera unfriendly job. I'm just the opposite. I'm blessed with a job where I'm often taking photos every day, even if they're ones that I can't post in public places. A school is a place of life though - even though individuals may find their own days boring there's always SOMETHING going on somewhere, and with such a large building there's often things to see if you look closer.
I've never kept a journal or a diary, and have now realised how terribly life affirming it all is. 2009 is a year in which I will have some kind of memory of every single day, and it won't be a forgotten year like so many others. I can't remember a damn thing I did in say...1998. I could probably come up with one or two things if I REALLY tried, but not more than one or two.
So, what have I hated? Not a lot really. I haven't found it too strenuous and it really hasn't been a chore.
What have I loved? Well, getting the camera out more is always a good thing. I'm also looking around a lot more, and being more aware of the wonderful things around me. The things that can make an interesting photograph are often strange and wonderful.
I like also that the project gives the tiniest little hint of an insight into the pressures that professional photographers face. It's dead easy to take photos when you're feeling inspired and creative. In a 365 you quickly discover that when you're tired, grouchy, sick, stressed, hung over or a combination of all of them it becomes very difficult to take a shot that's even technically competent - never mind one that has any kind of artistic merit! Spare a thought for that photographer trying to take beautiful photos of two families that he doesn't really care about at the next wedding that you're at!
One thing that I've really loved is that my photographs are littering the net all over the place. There are probably three reasons for this:
1. My photos are by and large reasonably ok from a technical viewpoint. There's not many with appallingly bad focussing, exposure, etc.
2. I give my photos away, and everybody loves free stuff! I generally put all my photos under a creative commons licence that lets people use them for whatever they want. I didn't take them to make money, so I'm happy to put them out there.
3. I take lots of very, very generic photos. I think this is largely because lots of people around me aren't comfortable having their photo on the net, and I'd never take a people shot from my workplace. So very few of my shots feature people, and that makes them ideal for illustrating blogs, tutorials and other concept pieces.
My Ryanair 737 on approach to Liverpool can be found in many travel blogs. My exam desks illustrate lots of topics about exams and nerves. My crossed fingers end up in the unlikeliest of places. My smiley face biscuit illustrates a spiritual presentation on ignorance. My pebbles on Llandudno beach are probably going to be published at some point in a book. My stuff is all over the place - and I love that!
It's interesting to see what people do like, and so how about a quick run down of the top ten photos based on view. Thanks to the Flickr statistics module, here we go!
In tenth: #6: A Little Prick with a Needle
With 158 views, this one just scraped ahead of the approaching Ryanair 737 to get tenth place. This is a very average shot of some dental equipment taken with a mobile phone. Why it's proved so popular is a mystery to me, even if it has had the longest time to be viewed. I can only put it down to the words 'little prick' in the title. People do look for the funniest things ;)
In ninth: #74: The Eyes Have It
This one has had 159 views, and is a favourite of three people. It wasn't the easiest shot, and it turned out quite well so I'm rather happy with it. And we won't even start about what colour the eye is - there could be blood on the carpet.
In joint seventh: #140: Hell's Kitchen
With 164 views, I'm really pleased with this very dramatic shot, and I'm not surprised that it's earned a good few views.
In joint seventh: #145b: They Meet At Last
I'm delighted that this made the top ten, as it's one of my favourite shots of the whole year. Anything tagged 'Red Arrows' gets lots of views, and something that isn't a plane in the air is always interesting. A lovely moment. This has had 164 views...I'm guessing that 160 of them were by Laura ;)
In sixth: #44: A Bit of a Mix Up
Do you remember me talking about generic photos? This mixing desk shot fulfils the basic 'lights, knobs and sliders' requirements that have led it to be used in lots of 'techie' type blog posts all over the place. It made sixth with 198 well earned views.
In fifth: #4: Crossed Words
It's right back to the start again as this perfectly boring photo of a crossword chalked up a whopping 232 views. It's back to generic illustrations again.
In fourth: #147: Testing Times Ahead
This photo of a very large exam hall has proven really popular with bloggers, and has also been included in a commercial product that someone is putting together. I'm not sure why it does so well, but the geometry is nice and the sheer scale is huge. 251 views.
In third: #25: It's Good to Talk!
Why, oh why, oh why do 343 people think this is a great photo to use? It's just a phone! Nevertheless it's very popular and has been used to illustrate a lot of articles about VOIP telephony.
In second: #237: Fingers Crossed!
This is a weird one. It's the newest photo in the top ten, and it has racked up 454 views, and yet it's a not particularly attractive photo of a bloody unattractive hand (mine). Strange, strange, strange. It also has the honour of having been used for one day on the front page of the Yahoo directory. It's a small claim to fame, but one that pleased me very much. :)
In first place, the winner is... #133: Lost Luggage?
Yes, an unlikely winner, but not without good reason! This five minute bit of fun was a visual gag based on an incident at LAX airport. The reason for the huge popularity is that Laura posted it as a link on one of the aviation forums that she uses and hence it got a whole pile of views from there. About 545 in fact. :)
And with that analysis done, it's time to have my Oscar moment and make some very important thank yous.
Firstly, to all the wonderful who have appeared in or helped me create my photos. You know who you are, and you have been a source of inexhaustible patience, tolerance and kindness. I thank you.
Secondly to you. Yes you - reading this post! A body of artistic/journalistic/observational/documentary work still has a place without anyone reading it, but an audience - even an audience of one - gives the whole thing validity. Pretty much all of my 365 posts get between ten and twenty views, and it makes me really happy to think that there are ten people out there reading my daily photos - but I don't know who all of you are! If you're reading this then drop me a comment, even if only to say hi. :) Thanks, and I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have. :)
Thirdly I give a nod to all the folks on the h.tv board who started this project together - and a very big nod to the handful of us left ;)
Now on to two very special thank yous.
The first is to Keith, my former colleague and good friend who is now resident in sunny Spain. Keith is living proof that a good teacher may hang up his chalk but he can never, ever retire. Keith's often seemingly throwaway references to great photographers, his dropping of technical terms and his acute observations have allowed me to view my own humble efforts in the context of some of the artistic greats of the twentieth century. Each journey prompted by such a comment has been a learning experience and of more interest than he can possibly know. He also manages to diligently produce a meaningful and cogent comment on even my poorest efforts. Thanks Keith, it's been a joy.
And my final special thank you goes out to Laura - my inspiration (let's not forget that she finished a 366 long before I started mine) and constant companion in the journey. I can also tell you that there has been at least one, and probably two, occasions when the absence of Laura's timely reminder to take a photo would have led to failure in this project. Thanks honey!
I did give Laura a bit of stick about the huge number of photos of cups of tea in her 366 collection. She sternly warned me that I'd be doing the same thing in mine. And so in a moment of true male pig headedness, having satisfied myself that I actually CAN complete a 365 without taking a photo of a cup of tea/coffee, that's exactly what I'm going to do in tribute to my sweetheart. So here it is - my first cup of the day which is a Christmas coffee from Finland!
So there we are, against all odds I did it. I didn't miss a day (which I thought I would) and I didn't - much as I was tempted to - borrow a photo from another day to fill a space.
Having completed it, one is left with the dilemma of whether or not to continue. Given that I don't feel the overwhelming sense of relief that many people get on reaching #365, I think I'm going to carry on. I won't beat myself up if I miss a day, and I might even borrow from a different day without feeling bad about it. And as the account is paid for for at least another year, I might as well.
A very happy New Year to all of you, and if you read all of that crap then I thank you once again. :)