Last week I finished up the final portrait of my 52 Portrait Project. I set out on this project to create 52 portraits of a different subject each week for a year. The rules for this project were simple yet absolute:
- A new subject every week for a year
- The photo had to be taken and posted during that week
- Try something new each week
If I had failed to stay within these rules a single week during the project I would have called it a failure and immediately aborted the project. Luckily it never came to that and despite a few close calls I ultimately stayed within the criteria to a satisfactory extent. The initial thought behind this project was quite simply to improve my photography skills. When I began, portraiture wasn't an area I had much experience with so creating an environment that held me accountable for doing a shoot a week was, I knew, the best scenario for getting better. Throughout the weeks there are noticeable improvements to these portraits but the greatest change during this year happened behind the camera.
Conversation and making social connections as a whole has never been my strong suit as I'm sure many who know me personally can attest too. This was a problem, how could I keep my subject engaged, much less provide direction, if I wasn't able to clearly communicate or provide some sort of conversation? To me, developing these skills were a necessity to shooting portraits. Now I'm still very much a work in progress, but after a year of spending an hour or two each week with individuals I might not know terribly well and trying to fill the silence with something other than "uh", "umm", and the occasional "yeah... so..." I can at least provide a conversation that nears captivating.
One of the more interesting outcomes of this project is being able to go through the 52 portraits and see a visible improvement and a developing style through the weeks. In the midst of the project, this was often times very difficult to see and take confidence in. Feeling that a week had gone well and that the photo turned out as wanted was always tempered against weeks where I had trouble making a connection with the subject and not getting the results I had wanted. Such weeks were expected of course but they were trying and made me question continuing the project at times. Fortunately these weeks were interspersed with the good weeks so they ended up acting as good reminders to never be complacent.
One of the questions I was asked the most during this project is what am I going to do once it's done. That was a tough question to answer than and I haven't exactly come up with an answer now with the project complete. There's other projects I'd like do and there's always the continual push to move more into the professional realm of photography. One sure answer I can give is that I'm going to stay busy. I do want to be sure to thank all of you who participated in the project as well as those who offered continued support throughout the project.