3 Discoveries From My One Year Water Photography Project

A couple of years ago I was searching for a project that would be simple to do daily but challenging to keep up with for a whole year. Nothing at all like this blog, right? What I settled on in the closing days of 2009 was to take up the theme ‘water’ and post a photograph to Facebook every day for a year. My discoveries went much beyond just taking photographs.

Final Water Shot – Dec 31 – 2010

The concept is simple enough and there are no end of these 365 type concepts out there. I dreamt this one up on my own and really was doing it just for me. The only rule was that the photograph had to have water in it. Easy right? No, but more on that later as it relates to third of my discoveries.

But first, why water? Honestly I am not sure if consciously thought of the many reasons that later became evident, but four I can highlight are:

1. I live on an island. Water is everywhere. Fankly I thought that the subject would allow for no end of easy subject matter over the course of the year. This was the ‘lazy’ choice if I am being honest.

2. We cannot live long without water. While humans can go several weeks (eight is about the most according to doctors) without food the same cannot be said about water. Without water you will die in 5 days. Its essential. It is hugely available and extremely scarce at the same time. Perhaps in some small way I wanted to draw some attention to the daily need for water in so many aspects of our lives.

3. I wanted to stretch my photography skills. I know it would not be easy taking photos every day of the same core subject and figured this would be a way to look at the world around me in a bit different way. Water was a great way to do this.

4. I wanted a challenge. Every year we make resolutions. Most are private and not subject to being called out by friends. This was going to be quite public and perhaps people may actually follow along. Even if I was travelling I would be able to keep it going and should be able to avoid ‘breaking the chain’ as I describe in this earlier post.

I did it. Every day. I was able to find something to take a photograph of that included water every day of the year. At first it was easy. It gets progressively more difficult. At first you take the photo early in the morning. Energy then wanes until that day when you wake up in a panic mid-March at around 11:30pm and realize you have not posted a photo and take the shot that was bound to come some time. The flushing toilet. An empty toilet to be clear, but still, the photo was posted before 12 midnight.

My three discoveries?

What I found over time was that people were actually following along. I started getting calls, texts or emails from random friends and family who otherwise do not reach out that often. These messages would inevitably come when I was running late with a post. Thus the first discovery I made was LOVE. I found that there were people who really care for and think about things deeply, and, yes, there are people who show you love and caring when what you are doing that is impacting their lives positively stops for a bit.

Over time the photos of water bottles and the pool gave way to seeing how the same image could be translated or interpreted in a totally different way. When you are doing something that you know is a public record, something that is being looked at by others, you start to realize that you cannot push out half-baked work. I had to stretch myself. In this way another discovery was made. CREATIVITY. We are all born with it. Watch any baby anywhere with a few toys and you will see that creativity exists in all of us. At some point we teach it out or over think it out of most of us. This project brought creativity fully into my daily life again.

Now, even if you do something every day because you have found that friends and family are now showing a love of your work, and, even if you find that you are developing an eye for creativity in translating the theme into a photo, you can still run into blocks and frustrations on days when honestly you don’t feel like doing it. This revealed a third discovery. I’m STUBBORN. I am sure this may not have been a discovery to some close to me, but in a way it was to me. I got to a point where I really wanted to do this, absolutely would let nothing get in the way of accomplishing my goal. Really, you cannot make anything that is difficult and pushes the envelope and makes you slightly uncomfortable but produces amazing payback if you don’t have a stubborn streak about you.

My takeaway learning to share? Go back to a dream you had. Think about the upcoming New Year. Is there a way that you can set a goal to start to do something for a year? A habit forms after around 30 days (See #2 on Routines in this earlier post). Think where you will be after a year.

Two years later I am stubbornly pushing my learning in photography. I look at the world around me with a creative lens and see so much more. And I love deeper. All quite unexpected when I started my Water Project as it became known. Try it. Chase your dream.

What is your dream and what is holding you back? Did you chase a dream and succeed? Share how. I would love to hear from you. Take a moment to comment and I always appreciate you sharing this post with your friends.

I live in the Cayman Islands and I'm married to Christina. We have two incredible children, Ryan, attending Northeastern University in Boston, MA, and Taylor, attending Trinity College School, in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. I own several businesses in Cayman. My list of 'pasts' include past chairman of the Cayman Islands Special Economic Zone Authority, past president of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman, and past president of the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce.

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