A 10-year project

He­len’s 365 project: A pic­ture a day, for the past 10 years

Amateur Photographer - - Technique -

ASK ANY pho­tog­ra­pher who has com­pleted a 365 project and they will prob­a­bly tell you that they felt a great sense of achieve­ment, and an even greater sense of re­lief when it was over. There are many ben­e­fits to shoot­ing and shar­ing ev­ery day, but it takes com­mit­ment, time, and end­less cre­ativ­ity to keep on go­ing. Hun­dreds of peo­ple start 365 projects, but very few fin­ish them. He­len Hooker, how­ever, is an ex­cep­tion. He­len has shot a pic­ture ev­ery day for 10 years. ‘My 365 grew nat­u­rally out of a blog I had al­ready started on pho­to­blog. com,’ she says. ‘It was 2007 and I hadn’t yet dis­cov­ered so­cial me­dia, but I wanted some­where to share my pic­tures with friends and fam­ily.’ By April 2008, He­len was post­ing some­thing most days. ‘As a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian I am fully aware of the im­pact reg­u­lar prac­tice can have on any­thing you do,’ she sug­gests. ‘As the year pro­gressed my pho­tog­ra­phy be­gan to im­prove, which was a great mo­ti­va­tor to go out and shoot more.’ With­out re­ally notic­ing, He­len had slipped into a 365 project.

Look­ing back over the past 10 years there have been plenty of highs. ‘It has been won­der­ful dis­cov­er­ing I have some artis­tic skills,’ says He­len. ‘I al­ways as­sumed my cre­ative out­let would only ever be mu­sic, but through pho­tog­ra­phy I have learned so much about light and form, and I now see the world dif­fer­ently. Rather than look­ing at sub­jects to pho­to­graph I am much more aware of the way the light falls. Of­ten I see some beau­ti­ful light and no­tice the way it sculpts

what it falls on to. I im­me­di­ately think about how I would cap­ture that light in-cam­era, and that ex­cites me.’

He­len en­joys re­ceiv­ing feed­back for her work, cit­ing it as one of the rea­sons she kept on go­ing for so long. ‘Even on days when I felt my daily photo wasn’t as good as I would have liked, friends and fam­ily took the time to tell me what they liked about my pic­tures, which was a real con­fi­dence booster,’ she ex­plains. What’s more, she has made many new friends through the project. ‘ There are friends on Pho­to­blog that I’ve been shar­ing im­ages with for over a decade,’ she re­veals. ‘I have even met some of them in per­son.’ Be­ing able to share her work has given He­len’s im­age-mak­ing a sense of pur­pose. ‘It’s great to see my pic­tures hav­ing a life be­yond my com­puter hard drive,’ she con­firms.

But like any long-term com­mit­ment there were days when He­len felt like throw­ing in the towel. ‘Find­ing enough mo­ti­va­tion to shoot some­thing fresh at the end of a long day is dif­fi­cult,’ she ad­mits. ‘My backup strat­egy was to take a pic­ture of our cat – for­tu­nately she is very un­der­stand­ing about this!’ Thank­fully He­len’s lack of mo­ti­va­tion never seemed to last long, and she was soon adding to her photo col­lec­tion with shots of cars, an­i­mals, ar­chi­tec­ture or any­thing else that caught her eye. ‘ The longer I con­tin­ued the harder it was to say “well it won’t mat­ter if I miss a day”,’ she sug­gests. Hav­ing said that, af­ter 10 years of the 365 project He­len re­cently de­cided to give her­self a break and to post less of­ten. ‘I will still be shar­ing new pho­tos reg­u­larly, but I fig­ure I de­serve a day or two off af­ter 10 years,’ she says. ‘It will give me more time to work on other projects, such as my LRPS dis­tinc­tion.’ While her in­ten­tions might be good, He­len is the first to ad­mit that daily pho­to­blog­ging is a hard habit to break.

High tide at Bosham Har­bour, West Sus­sex

Rac­ing ac­tion at Good­wood Rac­ing Re­vival

Bat­tling through the rain, West­min­ster Bridge, Lon­don

A mo­ment of ten­der­ness be­tween two court­ing ful­mers, Orkney

Frodo the fox, pho­tographed at the Bri­tish Wildlife Cen­tre

Look­ing up­wards in St Mary’s Church, Bev­er­ley

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