PHOTOGRAPHY: DAY 0 – “Wait, what am I doing?”

It occurred to me as I was setting up all the things I have to help me learn how to not suck at photography, that 100 days is not a very long time. It initially felt like such a big number, but now that I need to actually DO something, I’d love to have more like, oh I don’t know, 1,000 days? But I suppose that would ruin the point of this whole thing, huh?

Anyway, here are the things to know about my 100 days with Photography. (FYI – I’ll probably use this structure for all the “Day 0” posts)

Why I chose it. Quite simply, it is something that I’ve wanted to do for years. I’ve always admired great photography (and by great, I usually mean the local prints hanging up in coffee shops around town), and I recently bought a new fancy (for me) DSLR. So far, I basically use mine the same way you would use a $100 camera. Point. And. Shoot. Seems like a waste – so I want to learn how to actually use the great aspects of my camera to make better pictures. Secondly, I think photography has an amazing storytelling ability, but the secret is often in finding the right moments to capture, the right angles to use. More than the functional process around how to take better pictures, what I really want to get out of this is a better ability to identify great picture opportunities. Finding and capturing the compelling stories in the everyday.

What I currently know. Well, essentially nothing. I like to think I know what I’m talking about, or know my way around things, but I am pretty much starting from scratch here. I have a few “reference” materials that I hope will help build a foundation – David Busch’s Nikon D5000 book, the camera manual, and Aperture 3 for my MacBook Pro. But I’d like to do more than just read my way into success.

How the next 100 days will go. I’ll take a three-pronged approach for this. Learn, Talk, Immerse. “Learn” will be mix of diving into the reference materials and the interwebs, “Talk” will consist of some conversations with others in the field who already do some kickass photography, and “Immerse” will be the fun stuff – actually taking pictures. A lot of them. I’ll post many of the pictures here, but will probably use my flickr account to house many as well. From an equipment standpoint, I’ll be using my Nikon D5000, my iPhone4, and some software/applications (Instagram, Aperture, Photoshop, etc).

My goal. While I obviously would love to be able to take awesome pictures, 100 days seems like a short time to start thinking about Kunal’s gallery opening. So I’m looking at this in a couple of ways. In one hundred days, I’d love to be in a habit of taking pictures more often, being able to identify more picture opportunities, and as a stretch goal see if I can create a print that someone would like to hang up in their home, store, shop or office. Ideally someone that isn’t related to me (love you Mom, but that is too easy).

The OHD Date. Today is Day 0. May 31st will mark Day 1. That makes Wednesday, Sept 7, 2011 Day 100 – the OHD Date. As long as my math is correct. Which is a 50/50 chance at this point.

Alright let’s hope this works. Any advice, tips, tricks, concerns? Anyone want to join me in the inaugural OHD?

-KM.

Something New. Every 100 Days. Rinse. Repeat.

So here’s the deal. For a while now, I’ve been wanting to try new things. Learn how to take cool pictures with my new camera. Become decent at Spanish. Become not-shitty at Photoshop. And I’ve also been looking for a new reason to write. So hey, let’s just combine the two, shall we?

There are times when we look back, when we verbalize these little, seemingly inconsequential regrets. I think they matter more than we think. I think it’s the summation of these little experiences that make us who we are.

“I wish I knew how to play the piano”. “I tried rock climbing once, but never went back”. “It would be so cool if I could do that”.

For far too long, I have cycled through a number of things that I’ve planned on learning, practicing, getting better at. New skills, new hobbies. It was something I relished as a kid, and has stayed just as important during my career as a planner. After a while, you come to realize that truly understanding people means more than reading about them or talking to them, but sometimes spending time in their shoes.

As the years went on, I slowly lost focus on this “pastime”. Life often gets in the way. Meetings, projects, dinners, movies, meetings, trips, meetings, relationships (did I mention meetings?) – all things that have value in their own right, but they seem prescribed. This is my attempt to take back the reigns.

It is because of this that I am starting the 100 days project. I want to recreate the excitement and emotion of learning new things, and reignite the passion for expanding knowledge. This is my attempt to actually do all the things I told myself I would.

Here’s how it will work (it’s pretty simple). I will pick a topic (such as coding, salsa dancing, photography, brewing, baking, playing the drums, etc…) and will have 100 days to learn as much as possible, and reach a predetermined goal that will be set in the beginning. I will regularly update progress on the blog, through writing, pictures or any other means necessary. Once the 100 days is up, I will start another topic (maybe after a small break). I’m hoping to spend some time with others who are more well versed in each topic and provide insights from conversations with them. And while I have a small list of topics all ready to go, I’d eventually like to get input from others on the things for me to learn.

Here is what I’m hoping to get out of this…

To start writing again. Recently, it’s been far too many PowerPoint decks and far too few actual sentences. I want to change that. While I can’t always promise the topic will be fascinating, my hope is that I can begin to craft interesting stories through my experiences.

To fall back in love with learning. I love my job. But the stress and speed of it all can be daunting. And there is just something exciting about picking anything in the world and saying to yourself, “I’m going to figure that out, and become good at it (or at least not sucky) in about 3 months.”

To inspire others. This may be a pipe dream, but I’d love to see others start their own 100 days project. Something you’ve always wanted to try? A promise you made yourself years ago that never materialized? Let’s use our time to deliver on the promises we made to ourselves. There are too many interesting things around us to stop learning new things.

Alright, so there is the plan. First topic? Digital photography…expect the first post in the next week or so.

-KM.