Portrait 365 project

November 26, 2012

November 26th 2012
Update

It’s probably not escaped your notice that there haven’t been any portrait 365 pics for a few weeks. I really love this project but personal circumstances over the last few weeks have meant that it simply wasn’t possible to take a photo every day and so the project had to be put on hold. I’m completely fine with this and what I’m going to do is to use this as a little ‘practice’ project and start this same Portrait 365 project (a portrait a day) properly again on January 1st, right from scratch, and do it all throughout 2013. I learnt a lot from doing it over the last couple of months, and know what I struggle with (photographing strangers!) and what I want to do more and less of, so I feel like I can do a better job of it if I’m able to start over. It kind of feels better to start it at the beginning of the year anyway. So here are some of my favourite pictures I did manage to take over the last few weeks, and I’ll see you again on January 1st 2013 with the launch of Portrait 365 2013!

JOE

An excited Joe in the park…

HELEN

One of my best buds… Helen is without a shadow of a doubt one of the funniest women I have ever met. Love her.

JOE

Joe went to his room to play with lego and came down with this 🙂

EVAN

Evan is Adam’s nephew and is hands down one of the cutest kids on the planet. He absolutely loved playing my piano when he came over to visit.

JOE

Joe the berk peeping through a frosted cafe window.

ME

A creepy self-portrait inspired by Hallowe’en.

JOE

Bathtime for the crazy child.

EMMA

The very beautiful Emma Case, my sister from another mister!

ADAM

Ad hard at work in our studio one evening.

JOE

You can’t go through Autumn without chucking a load of leaves around.

Day 34/365: Sunday 30th September 2012
Adam

Ok ok, so yes this is ANOTHER iPhone picture. But I was feeling a bit guilty about having posted three grainy, shaky iPhone shots in a row so decided to end the month by redeeming myself with something pretty cool produced with said phone. For years I’ve always been two steps behind everyone else with phones and always seem to have some ancient version, usually held together with sellotape. But miraculously, this year my mobile contract ran out on the same day that the iPhone 5 was released, so I went and bagged myself one! Needless to say, I love it. Its camera is ace and today I tried out the panoramic format for the first time during a walk in the woods. Am DEFINITELY going to be using this again, it’s bloody ace!

Day 33/365: Saturday 29th September 2012
Debbie

Yet another iPhone picture, god I was lazy with this project this weekend! A few drinks round at my friend’s house with my lovely buddies Debbie and Lucie. Behold Debbie, slightly the worse for wear, wearing four pairs of children’s sunglasses. Not a lot more to be said about this really other than it was very late.

Day 32/365: Friday 28th September 2012
Self-portrait

Another iPhone picture… pretty feeble I must admit. Noteworthy for me because instead of my standard black that I tend to wear 99.99% of the time, I’m actually wearing a brand new GLITTERY GOLD top. I felt pretty special, even if I did look miserable as sin.

Day 31/365: Thursday 27th September 2012
Helen

An iPhone pic for today. Tonight I met up with my buddies Helen, Becca, Caroline and Ian to have a look round the Buy Art Fair in Spinningfields and stuff our faces in the burger heaven that is Almost Famous. For some reason I really can’t remember I ended up randomly receiving an egg from the barman along with our drinks, so Helen duly decorated it with her eyeliner and gave it back.

Day 30/365: Wednesday 26th September 2012
Joe

Last weekend Joe got a massive dog-shaped helium balloon (which he has called Freddie!) and he’s been obsessed with it ever since. It’s been floating round the various ceilings of our house all week and scaring the life out of me when I least expect it. Today he spent around 20 minutes letting it float up to the ceiling them jumping up to catch it. It was exhausting just watching him.

Day 29/365: Tuesday 25th September 2012
Adam

Adam in the creaky old lift in our studio building – it’s ancient but I love it!

Day 28/365: Monday 24th September 2012
Joe

Joe lost his first tooth today! He’s seven and a half so it’s REALLY late for him to be losing his first, and given that he’s seen his friends’ teeth fall out all the time over the last couple of years and has been desperate for his own to follow suit, he was SO excited.

Day 27/365: Sunday 23rd September 2012
Self-portrait

The wedding wasn’t just a momentous day for me because I actually got to go as a guest instead of working, but also because I wore a dress! Anyone who knows me knows that this NEVER happens, and it is genuinely almost two years since I last wore one. I’ve always been a real tomboy and feel ridiculous in them. I love dresses on other people, just not me! But I tried to get a grip for this wedding and actually bought a dress, and wore it! So to commemorate this historical occasion, I thought I’d do a self-portrait wearing it. Now it can go back in the cupboard and not see the light of day for another two years. Phew!

Day 26/365: Saturday 22nd September 2012
Neil

The wedding was a two-part affair with the wedding ceremony, food and dancing on the Friday, and a ‘walk, skate and bake’ on the Saturday – which basically involved everyone going on a glorious 4 mile walk along the river, then bringing skateboards and homemade cakes for a mass skating and cake-eating session! This is our friend Neil in the skate park, he’s ace!

Day 25/365: Friday 21st September 2012
Adam

Today Adam and I and our friend Mark travelled up to Lancaster for a friend’s wedding. It was amazing to go as a guest for once! Mark did some filming while we were there, and this is Adam messing around with one of his lenses.

Day 24/365: Thursday 20th September 2012
Inta

Today I popped down to London for a few hours for a portrait shoot with Inta (she is a fantastic photographer herself – check out her work!) She has the most amazingly beautiful hair and this shot of her shaking her head is one of my favourites from the day.

Day 23/365: Wednesday 19th September 2012
Self-portrait

It is really getting chilly now and in a bid to delay putting the central heating on for as long as possible I’ve been wrapping up in my half-finished crocheted blanket. I powered on with this to begin with but have lost a bit of momentum and it’s stayed the same size for some weeks now. I really need to get cracking and finish it so I can start making a new one, I’ve found loads of gorgeous things on Pinterest I want to make!

Day 22/365: Tuesday 18th September 2012
Adam

Adam and I stayed late in the studio tonight, me to work and Adam to do some painting. He’s just started a huge canvas of the Harbour Trap at Aberystwyth (one of his favourite surf spots) for the dining room wall.

Day 21/365: Monday 17th September 2012
Ben

Ben is the lovely gent who bicycles to Hope Mill each day to provide us with the most amazing sandwiches, soups, salads and cakes! As well as me loving my food, Ben also happens to be hilarious so I really look forward to his visits.

Day 20/365: Sunday 16th September 2012
Adam

An iPhone picture taken in the very early hours of Sunday morning drinking wine and relaxing in Red Les!

Day 19/365: Saturday 15th September 2012
Adam

Originally we were supposed to be going to Festival Number 6 this weekend, but lack of funds meant that unfortunately we were unable to go. However, this week we became the proud new owners of a camper van (named Red Les for those who are interested!) so we decided to have a little trip to the north east coast in Les instead! On Friday night we travelled to the heavenly Runswick Bay and first thing Saturday morning had a blissful walk on the beach in idyllic sunshine. Red Les is my new favourite fella!

Day 18/365: Friday 14th September 2012
Melanie

A couple of weeks ago Jill, one of my brides from last year, got in touch to ask me a favour. She is involved with the Manchester Women’s Institute, which, if you’re thinking of pensioners and jam-making you’re WAY behind the times, trust me – have a look and get involved! It looks ace! Jill is helping to produce this year’s calendar which focuses on inspirational Manchester women. Each month the lady in question is being represented by a different art form and Jill asked me to contribute one month’s image by producing a photograph of Melanie Bryan OBE, an award-winning social entrepreneur. I emailed Melanie to ask if she would mind me taking her photograph, and she very generously gave some of her time to let me do it, saying that her mum would probably be more excited about her being part of a WI calendar than when she got her OBE! I took a few photos next to the Lowry Bridge and really enjoyed meeting her. She is a really vibrant, fun, effervescent person and I really wanted to make sure her personality came through in the photo. We had a real giggle and gassed our way through the whole thing. Thank you so much Melanie for taking the time out of your busy schedule to help us out with this. What a great lady!

Day 17/365: Thursday 13th September 2012
Joe

Joe has just moved up a group in swimming and is very proud of now being a green hat instead of a yellow one! Love these hats, they ALWAYS look ridiculous (particularly when worn with hair poking out the sides like Joe rocks them).

Day 16/365: Wednesday 12th September 2012
Sophia

Today we went to visit our friends Kamal and Rachel who have just had their first child, the beautiful Sophia. Here is new dad and daughter – totally smitten. She is truly beautiful.

Day 15/365: Tuesday 11th September 2012
Joe

It’s looking like the summer might finally be coming to an end, and good old Manchester is starting to look like its usual rainy self. But puddles are great fun to scooter right through so we don’t mind really. A picture taken on my iPhone.

Day 14/365: Monday 10th September 2012
Fraser

Today I did a portrait shoot for the lovely Fraser, his mum, dad and big brother. He is the happiest little chappie, completely scrumptious. Wasn’t sure about the tunnel though, he stayed resolutely at the other end, peering through it very skeptically!

Day 13/365: Sunday 9th September 2012
Self-portrait

This Sunday was earmarked for the dreaded task of clearing out the cellar, which for some months now has been a general dumping ground. A pretty grim job but I love the light on the staircase leading back up to the kitchen.

Day 12/365: Saturday 8th September 2012
Katie

Today I photographed the beautiful wedding of Katie and Gianluca in Colchester. This is one of my favourite shots from the day, it was one of those special moments that really touch your heart, whether you know the people or not.

Day 11/365: Friday 7th September 2012
Adam

Adam in our studio building Hope Mill – it’s a big old converted mill with loads of cool staircase and corridors.

Day 10/365: Thursday 6th September 2012
Self-portrait

For this one I chose to do the ‘Ellipse’ self-portrait suggested by James Wafer for my Self-Portrait 52 project, using a shaving mirror to create the shape. Although I’ve decided to leave this project, I’ll probably pick a word from it every now and then – I don’t want to have to produce a new self-portrait every week but I’ll definitely enjoy doing them every so often when the mood takes me!

Day 9/365: Wednesday 5th September 2012
Debbie and Michelle

An iPhone picture for today! I met up with a couple of friends for a drink and completely forgot to take my camera out with me so had to make do with my phone… Loved the creepy light on the canal tow path.

Day 8/365: Tuesday 4th September 2012
Freddie

There’s not much to say about this photo really other than it’s my dog in a wig.

Yes it’s childish, and yes I do feel that Freddie is looking at me saying, “Anna, seriously?” but yes, I do think this is one of the more amusing things I’ve seen this week. Joe left the wig on the sofa after a dressing-up session (where he strode in wearing it, declaring in a deep American accent, “I’m looking to have my hair cut, am I in the right place?”) and it’s just been begging to be placed on Freddie’s head ever since.

DISCLAIMER: No dogs were harmed in the making of this photo…. Slight humiliation perhaps, but he’s a VERY loved dog, he happily wore it for about 10 minutes without even noticing it was on his head and was given a big chew in compensation!

Day 7/365: Monday 3rd September 2012
Grandma

Today I went down to Birmingham with Joe for a few hours to visit my lovely Grandma. One of my favourite things about visiting her is seeing how happy it makes her to spend time with Joe. She absolutely adores him and the feeling is mutual. She is almost 90 years old but is sharp as a tack. Today she showed Joe our family tree (she has traced it back to the 1600s), which completely amazed him. He made a copy of as much of it as he could and hid it in his toy chest, saying it was a secret scroll about our precious family.

Day 6/365: Sunday 2nd September 2012
Joe

On Sunday night before bed Joe was racing around the house wearing these novelty glasses. This is him in his bedroom. Possibly the most sinister thing about this is his uncanny resemblance to Brick Top in Snatch.

Day 5/365: Saturday 1st September 2012
Helen

I spent Saturday night with my lovely friends Helen and Caroline. There was a beautiful sunset on Saturday so I had fully intended to do a lovely warm sun-drenched hazy portrait of Helen before we went out but in true girlie form we ended up gassing away in my bedroom while we were getting ready and completely missed the sunset. Doh. I only remembered about my portrait as we were leaving to get in the taxi in the gloom so Helen draped herself in my front doorway with her leg half way up the wall when we were rushing out the front door to save my bacon so I could take this quick snap. Her only request… “Oh god. So long as you promise to take another one where I look less like a nob head.” I love this girl.

Day 4/365: Friday 31st August 2012
Jim

On Friday night we popped over to see our buddies James and Jim – two of the nicest lads you could ever meet! Jim’s just run a Facebook competition/promotion for his business Canvas Prints Online (check them out and like like like them everyone please!) so I asked him to show me on his laptop how he’d run it as I’d like to do a similar thing soon for my own portrait shoots. I’ve always liked the light from laptops so decided to shoot today’s portrait using this – and give Jim and his ace business a blatant and very well deserved plug at the same time!

Day 3/365: Thursday 30th August 2012
Joe

Joe was ridiculously excited today because he has got his first wobbly tooth! Somehow he has reached the ripe old age of 7 and a half without losing any of his baby teeth whatsoever. An adult tooth started to grow behind the baby tooth (known as having a ‘shark tooth’!) a few weeks ago so I took him to the dentist to get it checked out. She was pretty surprised he was as old as he is and hadn’t lost any teeth but said the new big tooth would most likely soon push out the baby one in front of it – which it now has! He’s spending pretty much all his time frantically wobbling it to try to get it out and is telling anyone who will listen.

Day 2/365: Wednesday 29th August 2012
Self-portrait

A complete hassle of a day today. Adam sold his van so we were partly without transport, our electricity (and hot water thanks to no power to the boiler) gave up on us for part of the day so we had to get the electrician round to sort it out, the house is covered is mess from last weekend’s camping trip including a full tent in the dining room that we needed to dry out after having to pack it away in driving rain and gale force winds. The table was covered in both mine and Adam’s laptops and work paraphernalia where we were both trying to get some work done at home because we couldn’t get in to the studio, and countless mugs and plates that we hadn’t washed up due to no hot water. So today’s portrait is me stuck in the middle of this complete bedlam.

Day 1/365: Tuesday 28th August 2012
Adam

I decided to shoot my amazing other half to kick off the project. To me he is just one of the most beautiful things to look at in the world so it was a bit of a no-brainer to start with him. This is him today in our studio. People always ask if it gets too much working in the same room, but bar the odd snappy word when we’re stressed, it never does. It feels like I’m missing a limb when he’s not around. This post will really embarrass him…

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

Right, I’ll cut to the chase and be completely honest… I completely and utterly failed at my last personal project, Self portrait 52. Quite shamefully so. Of the 52 images I was supposed to produce, I managed to publish 6. Quite embarrassing really, particularly since I’d just written an article on Rock ‘n’ Roll Bride about how great personal projects are! I floundered very early on, then missed a couple of weeks, then that couple of weeks turned into a month, but I was adamant that I was going to catch up and carry on… I shot a couple of images but never got round to editing them…. then 1 month turned into 2… still adamant that I was going to work my ass off to produce and publish the backlog, I shot a couple more images and developed ideas for a few more… but for some reason didn’t edit them or put any new ideas into practice… then 2 months turned into 3… 4… then the backlog seemed unmanageable… so I procrastinated some more… planned concepts for a few but didn’t feel like shooting or editing them…. then I decided that since the backlog was unmanageable, I’d simply carry on where I left off…. but I didn’t… and another month passed…. then I finally had a word with myself last month and decided enough was enough. The project was a chore when personal projects really shouldn’t be, so I would abandon the project completely. It was an enormous relief.

As soon as I pulled the plug on it and felt the rush of happiness and excitement, the truth of the situation hit me straight away and it was so obvious and simple: I just didn’t enjoy the self-portrait project. I looked back at my evaluation of my 365 project which I used in order to plan this next self-portrait one, and realised that I’d misjudged a few things….

…I wanted to do a weekly rather than a daily project, but in actual fact I found that I really needed the discipline of a daily task to keep me motivated and give the project momentum.

…I felt I needed to do a project with more technical challenge, but in reality I found that I derived very little pleasure from producing a picture that was more technically impressive. I realised that technical merit has very little to do with what excites me about photography – for me it’s all about emotion and personality.

…I wanted to hand some control over to others – but I think I am too much of a control freak! I found this really restrictive and missed the freedom of choosing myself what I wanted to shoot.

… I wanted to do self-portraits to make up for my earlier abandonment of my first self-portrait project. But what became obvious was that there was a good reason why I ended up abandoning self-portraits twice – I don’t enjoy them! I just don’t find myself an interesting subject to photograph and really missed photographing other people, which I now realise very clearly is where my true passion lies. I’m fascinated by other people and love looking at them and finding out more about them – I guess I’m just too familiar and I find photographing myself pretty dull. I love interacting with other people and this was a big thing missing from this project.

A lot of the learning from the evaluation still holds true – I definitely want to focus on purely people rather than landscapes and objects etc as in my first 365 project, and I want to produce more artistic portraiture as well as documentary portraiture. However, I also want my portraits to have emotion and personality and convey something real with a genuine narrative rather than something purely conceptual.

So… I’ve decided to do a 365 portrait project… A homage to all the wonderful and interesting people I will encounter in my life over the following year. A different portrait each day, every day for a year, with a little bit of information about the person photographed. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a completely different person each day, some people will almost certainly appear a few times in different contexts, but I’ll want to inject as much variety into it as possible, so I’ll need to approach and photograph people who haven’t asked to be photographed, including strangers sometimes too which will really push me out of my comfort zone and which isn’t something I did at all in my first 365 project. I’m actually really excited about this and can’t wait to get started. So… first off the blocks…

5 Comments

  1. Gemma Williams

    This is excellent! I loved your last 365 project, and I love that you’ve learned so much about your self and your work from the ‘failed’ project. Your new 365 sounds really exciting and I can’t wait to see it progress! Good luck x

    Reply
  2. Steph Oakes

    Yey. You’re back with another awesome project! This will make one mighty fine book at thd end of it!! Xx

    Reply
  3. Nicola Wardle

    Great theme Anna! Good on you for scrapping the old project if you weren’t enjoying it. Looking forward to to your new set of images and the first one is as inspiring as ever. x

    Reply
  4. debs

    love these hon, just caught up with the last few weeks of your life and its ace!

    Reply
  5. Jack

    These look great! Good luck with the 365 project – looking forward to following along!

    Reply

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