Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Year in Pictures

April 28: 365 West 52nd Street

Last summer, my friend Dave proposed a photo group. Anyone who wanted to join would take a photo every day for a year, from September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2010, and post it on Flickr. Dave's a pretty popular blogger and twitterer, so he attracted a pretty far-flung group of mostly strangers. Well, strangers to me, I suppose it's possible he knew all of them, but I don't think so. I knew a few of them in real life before we started, and met a couple more on a photo-taking trip to Roosevelt Island (I wish we'd done more of those), but mostly I spent a year communicating with these people through photos and the occasional comment. It was fun to see different people's approaches to the project, and get this weird peek into their lives. We did some theme days here and there, but there was no structure to the project, which was nice. One woman took a picture of her baby every day. Lots of us cooked a lot. I saw some beautiful sunsets and sunrises.

I've always liked taking photos, though I'm no expert and have no desire to be one. I think I have a pretty good eye, and I like the results I get with my little Sony point-and-shoot. I always say I should carry my camera with me more, but I never did it. I liked having a bit of structure to my photo-taking, though some days (especially near the end), it started to feel like homework I didn't want to do. It's a cliché, but it changed the way I looked at things. I looked up more, I noticed more things around me.

I think I only missed one day outright. I will admit I missed some other days but I posted photos from other days to make up for them. Yes, it's cheating, shut up! Considering how many people didn't make it through the year, I feel fine about my occasional reinterpretation of the rules. And for all the days when I took a hasty picture of the cat before bed, there were days when I took many photos and had a hard time deciding which one to post. Which explains why the final set has 372 pictures in it. (Two also got eaten in a weird iPhoto/Flickr sync glitch, mysteriously gone from both forever.)

With the year over, I made a list of what I thought were the trends (and one deliberate anti-trend) in my pictures. Today, as I counted, was the first time I'd sat and gone through all 365 (um, 372) photos. They form a neat little visual diary. There were a bunch I'd completely forgotten about. Most of the trends I identified were spot on, though some of the numbers were higher or lower than I expected, and as I looked I found a few more patterns. Some of my categories are a little arbitrary and so is my counting. But it seemed like a fun way to share some of my favorites here. (Click a photo to view full-size.)

  • Photos of the cat: 27
    October 4: Fat Sleeping CatDecember 28: So Cute, So PointyJanuary 22: Paws UpFebruary 28: Radish, Protector of SocksMarch 28: Nap BurrowJune 6: Glamor Shot
    I thought there'd be way more of these!

  • Photos of food (or drink): 60
    September 5: HomeOctober 8: Katz's DeliOctober 29: MargaritaNovember 27: Best. Sandwich. EVER.February 27: Quack!March 27: Top ChefAugust 1: Citrus Pound Cake

  • Photos of or taken from subways and subway stations: 31
    September 3: 82nd St Station, Jackson HeightsNovember 10: Danger/WarningOctober 30: Roosevelt Avenue and 82nd Street, Jackson HeightsJanuary 28: SisyphusFebruary 18: Roosevelt Avenue and 83rd StreetMarch 12: Dismantled Token Booth
    I thought there were more of these too!

  • Photos of the NYC skyline or major landmarks: 28
    November 25: West 34th Street and 8th AvenueDecember 29: 14th Street and Irving PlaceFebruary 19: Lincoln CenterMarch 16: Junction Blvd.March 29: Ominous SkylineJune 18: Long Island City RooftopJuly 1: Spires (Union Square looking North)July 7: Hot in the City 2August 15: Flushing Meadows

    • Of those, photos of the Empire State Building: 10
      October 6: West 35th St. between 6th and 7th Aves.December 27: Caught Between the Moon and New York City (W. 33rd St. btwn Broadway and 6th Ave)Februrary 11: ESB and icicles (W 34th Street between 7th and 8th Aves)February 20: Reflection (6th Avenue and 42nd Street)
      Not nearly enough of the Chrysler Building, which is actually my favorite, but I work really close to the ESB.


  • Photos taken outside of NYC: 43
    November 18: Water, Earth and Sky November 20: Sears Tower, ChicagoFebruary 22: Dupont Circle, Washington, DCMarch 18: Lincoln Memorial from the WWII MemorialApril 19: Amazing California SkyMay 1: Drawbridge, Indiantown Road, Jupiter, FLJune 2: Goodspeed Opera House, East Haddam, CTJuly 18: Weston, VT
    This one surprised me too. I didn’t realize I'd spent so many days out of town!

    • Of those, photos taken outside of the US: 5
      January 16: Berlin Holocaust Memorial and the ReichstagJanuary 17: Berliner DomJanuary 17 Alternate: Jewish Cemetery, Berlin


  • Photos with people as the subject: 5
    June 26: CalvinApril 5: Big Banana
    (Okay, the weird-ass giant banana is really the subject of the second one.)

  • Photos of ruined, crumbling or abandoned things: 9
    September 14: W. 37th St. btwn 8th and 9th AvesNovember 7: Roosevelt Island December 7: 10th Street between E and F Streets NW, Washington, DCFebruary 13: Neighborhood Tragedy (37th Aveue and 84th Street, Jackson Heights)February 14: After the FireJuly 30: Roosevelt Avenue between 89th and 90th Streets

  • Attempted "artsy" close-ups of objects (not including food and cat porn above): 36
    September 28: HomeOctober 5: $119.50January 31: LampJuly 25: Sleeve

  • Photos in or out the windows of my office: 18
    September 30: Office WindowOctober 14: Organizey!

  • Photos of or out the windows of my apartment (where you can really see the apartment, so again not the food or cat porn – this was a weak category to choose!): 17
    September 27: HomeOctober 24: KitchenDecember 19: Stormy Night

  • Photos taken at work events: 4
    October 18: Conference BeveragesOctober 20: Festival

  • Photos of or in theatres: 14
    September 6: Avenue Q, NYCOctober 15: Union Square TheatreOctober 27: Play: W 41st St between 7th and 8th Aves, ManhattanDecember 20 Alternate: West 76th Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Ave.January 12: Barrow Street TheaterMarch 31: Broadway SunsetJuly 20: '62 Center for Theatre and Dance, Williams College (Williamstown Theatre Festival)August 19: Thursday Night on the Broad Way

  • Photos taken into the sun: 16
    October 19: 82nd Street and Roosevelt AvenueDecember 20 Alternate: Amsterdam Avenue between 74th and 75th StreetsMay 7: Chelsea SchoolJune 7: West 66th Street and BroadwayJuly 6: Hot in the City
    I thought there would be more of these. This is definitely a visual tick that I have.

  • Photos of screens: 9
    September 21: Symphony Space, NYCNovember 21: Three ScreensJanuary 10: Barrow Street TheaterApril 15: ScreensAugust 31: Meta

  • Jokes or Puns: 5 (Mouse-over for captions)
    December 18: [Don't] Stop Believe[ing] (West 34th Street and Broadway, Manhattan)March 7: The Great Muppet Capers

  • Photos taken with my phone: 6

  • Photos I don't like: 12 (Pretty good, out of 372!)


And here are some more I really like that don't match any of the categories above:
September 29: W 37th St. & 8th AveOctober 11: Midtown Community Court / American Theatre of Actors, W. 54th St. btwn 8th & 9th AvesOctober 26: 83rd Street and 37th Avenue, Jackson HeightsDecember 17: Empire Hotel Lobby (63rd and Broadway, Manhattan)April 1: Spring?June 25: 9th Avenue and 51st Street

Here's the whole set.

This was fun. Thanks to Dave and to everyone else in the group. One of the things I'd like to do as I try to blog more is post more photos (not quite this many!), so I'm hoping to keep carrying my camera and taking more pics. Just probably not every day.