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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

On Delayed Resolutions and Personal Photography Projects


  • 6 min read

Well, January is here again. And, if you are anything like me, you are feeling pressure to start 100 new projects, organize your house top to bottom, and cook nothing but healthy meals that have been prepped ahead of time. But, also like me, you may be feeling that you missed the boat a bit. New Year’s has officially passed, and it’s too late for resolutions. You may think it’s too late to start a new project. But, is it really? I think not.

I have no aspirations of running for office some day, but if I did, I think I would campaign to change the whole New Year’s resolutions thing. Who has time to figure out resolutions when we are barely keeping our heads above water during the holidays? Not me. Instead, I’d like to propose a delayed resolution-making plan.


Sometimes you may need to rest…

Instead of hitting the New Year ready to roll, camera in hand, I usually need some time and space. December is a draining month for me, and while I usually forge through for the sake of my 365 project, it’s generally not my best work. By the time New Year’s hits, I’m exhausted and in no state to just jump into a new project. I only start to consider new projects in the first week or two of January. From there, it takes me another week or two to get organized and motivated. By late January or early February, I’m ready to create and take on new projects. I need that time to let the dust settle a bit. Giving myself time to clear my mind and start fresh is important for me to cultivate my creativity

 


Prepare for failure…

I’m a bit of a type A person with perfectionist tendencies. So, I don’t like to assume I will fail, and I imagine you don’t either, but stick with me. Even though I have the best of intentions, it’s likely that something will come along that makes it difficult to execute my creative plans perfectly. Life has a way of getting in the way.

If you want to scroll WAY back, you’ll find that my Instagram journey started in 2011-ish. (Please excuse the excessive use of filters and the number of photos you’ll find of my dog.) Before that, I was sharing photos regularly via Twitter. I was a food blogger and was posting new recipes and photos on a regular basis (5-6 days a week). I had a content calendar that was planned out weeks in advance. I kept that up for years.

Then I had kids. Life got busy. I was burned out. I eventually stopped blogging and my creative photography started to dwindle.

 



Enter the Imperfect 365…

My very first personal photography project was inspired by a friend who suggested an “Imperfect 365”… Essentially, the idea was to embrace the failure at the beginning of the project. Recognize that it won’t be perfect, and decide to keep shooting anyway. The thing is, when I assume from the beginning that failure is an option, I can plan for it.

My first Imperfect 365 was in 2015. I was pregnant with my second kiddo, was chasing a toddler around the house, and felt like death for a while. My goal was to post every day, but I knew from the beginning it wouldn’t happen. I leaned into the imperfection hard. When I would miss a few days, it didn’t matter. I would continue to just pick up the camera and move forward. I didn’t number my photos that year. I simply tagged them as my #imperfect365 and kept moving forward. I “completed” my imperfect project (meaning I was still shooting and posting through the end of December) for three years in a row!

A few years later, I dropped the ball entirely. That happens. Along the way, I started numbering my photos and setting higher expectations with little plan for failure. In 2020, I got to photo 77/366 and promptly stopped shooting. A few things were going on in the world. You may remember

 




Be reasonable…

In the last few years, I’ve gotten back to my daily 365 project with a lot more success. Instead of skipping photos and having an “imperfect” 365, I’ve changed the rules a bit to allow myself to catch up. By the end of the year, I post 365 numbered photos (and I have for the past few years), but it’s not always a linear process.

When life gets busy, I often get a few days behind. I allow myself to post a few photos at a time to catch up. If I’m struggling to get out and shoot (lack of inspiration, sickness, etc), I allow myself to go back through the archives and post an old photo. Sometimes I just re-edit an old photo. I do what works for me and I encourage you to do the same. Perhaps your goal is to post one photo a week. Or, perhaps a monthly project feels more reasonable. What’s important is that you keep creating.



Be reasonable…

In the last few years, I’ve gotten back to my daily 365 project with a lot more success. Instead of skipping photos and having an “imperfect” 365, I’ve changed the rules a bit to allow myself to catch up. By the end of the year, I post 365 numbered photos (and I have for the past few years), but it’s not always a linear process.

When life gets busy, I often get a few days behind. I allow myself to post a few photos at a time to catch up. If I’m struggling to get out and shoot (lack of inspiration, sickness, etc), I allow myself to go back through the archives and post an old photo. Sometimes I just re-edit an old photo. I do what works for me and I encourage you to do the same. Perhaps your goal is to post one photo a week. Or, perhaps a monthly project feels more reasonable. What’s important is that you keep creating.

 


No one does the optional assignments…

That leads me to my final point. For me, it’s so helpful to view my personal projects as a self-assignment. I got the idea from photographer Penny De Los Santos. I heard her speak at a conference about self-assigning creative projects for herself, and the idea stuck with me.

If you think of your personal projects as optional assignments, they are easier to skip and set aside. I always wondered why my college professors gave optional assignments. I’m sure a few people did them, but most people opted out.

Instead, think of yourself as the boss or the professor who is assigning a project. You can be a nice boss or the cool professor. That’s fine. Just like a professor who has the best interest of their students in mind, you’re assigning something meaningful. It’s a project you want to complete. So, have fun and be creative… but also take yourself seriously. I think you’ll be glad you did!

As I’ve gotten more comfortable with a 365 project, I’ve added a few additional projects to my repertoire, as well. In the past year, I’ve enjoyed creating monthly self portraits and making images that incorporate my love of Chuck Taylors. Taking my personal projects seriously has really helped me to flex my creative muscles. And, of course, I’m currently contemplating projects for 2024. Stay tuned!

 

To see my personal projects, you can find me on instagram at @jenniferschall < https://www.instagram.com/jenniferschall/ > and @converselyinspired < https://www.instagram.com/converselyinspired/ >

 

 

 

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Jennifer Schall

Jennifer is a creative lifestyle photographer located just outside Hershey, PA. While shooting a variety of genres - nature/macro, abstract, documentary, street, and even a few portraits, she loves to capture the beauty in everyday moments. Lensbaby lenses give her the creative tools to express herself creatively, capturing the true essence of her subject while and putting a bit of herself into the image. When she doesn't have a camera in hand, Jen is usually chauffeuring her kids to sports practices, walking the dog, cooking, and dreaming of her next trip to the beach.

 

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