20 Days of Photography (aka I Came Up 10 Days Short)

When I started this blog and series of 30-day challenges three years ago, I had a couple of objectives.

First, to build better habits – because the right habits mean you don’t have to fight so hard to make good decisions.

And second, to explore my many and varied curiosities. I wanted space to try or learn about things simply because they seemed interesting. Like sewing, Italian, YouTube, and this month, photography.

I appreciate beautiful images and love taking in the world around me, so I set off to take a photo every day for 30 days in an effort to learn the basics, improve my skills, and become more observant.

I took, analyzed, and re-took hundreds of photos. Of buildings and sunsets, leaves and rocks. Pennies on the ground, and clouds in the sky. I agonized over which photo to post, and what caption should accompany it.

On day 20, I sat down to write about the challenge thus far. “What have I gotten out of this project?” I asked myself. I pondered the question for some time until I realized a disappointing truth.

Nothing. I found the process highly unenjoyable. It felt like a chore on day 1 all the way through to day 20.

Admittedly, I didn’t approach this challenge with the same gusto as previous ones; even the ones I didn’t enjoy. Where I normally pour through books and obsess over details, I was light on reading and experimentation. I took hundreds of photos, but I should have taken thousands.

That said, lack of enjoyment doesn’t give me permission to tackle a challenge at half effort or abandon it all together.

There’s a third element at play here, something that I haven’t shared with you yet. For the past 18 months, I’ve been working on launching a small business (a children’s swim facility) here in Wisconsin which has turned out to be quite a large endeavor. Next month, we officially open our doors.

These days, I spend virtually all of my time and brain cells on this project. The photography challenge made me realize that I want to spend my precious extra minutes and hours on the habits I’ve already developed and care about – exercising, cooking, journaling, writing, stretching, meditating and reading. And not on taking pictures or learning about photography.

After 3 years of taking on 30-day challenges, I’ve learned to value my time and protect it fiercely. And so, after 20 days, I concluded that photography month had to end. In hindsight, it was a poor choice on my end to embark on a challenge like this when I had little to give in terms of time, energy and enthusiasm. As a result, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about time and energy and how to get more of it.

Which brings me to my new 30-day challenge. No booze, no caffeine, no sugar. I’ve already started. More on this tomorrow.

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