I have always liked diaries. I like to keep them and I like to read them, especially visual ones. At a young age I fell hard for the journals of Peter Beard; later, Dan Eldon and Sabrina Ward Harrison. When I was 26, I sketched, wrote and photographed my way across the US and then again through Central America when I turned 30. I documented my first year in Korea with a photo a day and the last year of my thirties with a self-portrait a week. I was a regular contributor to the beautiful Habit and documented my last year in Korea the same way.
So when I was gifted with a new Canon 7D at the end of last year, after the tragic disappearance of my Nikon six months earlier, and I needed a project to get me shooting video every day, it was natural that I chose to document 2014 with one second of video each day. I had been inspired by Cesar Kuriyama’s 1 Second Everyday project, which inspired an app and a TED Talk. But instead of my phone, I would use this new camera, shoot everything I could and cut it all together.
2014 was not a landmark year. There were no big milestones, no great victories, no tragic losses, and few successes. More question marks than Yes's. It was neither Awesome nor The Worst. Well, some of it was The Worst. Parts of it were truly awful, parts of it were pretty good, a lot of it was a solid shoulder shrug. I did not fall in love. I did not find my truest calling or begin my life’s work; I did not build my dream house. No new skills acquired. No new stamps in my passport. In fact, it was the first year in over a decade that I did not step onto a single airplane.
But each day, I shot. And when I finally started editing all those seconds together, I realized that in a year where there were no Big Things that happened, there was a long, beautiful string of Little Things. I saw that in those first long, bleak, dreary, wintery months of the year, there was a lot more giggling from behind the camera than I remembered. I saw that this year of sharp edges was softened constantly with these lucky moments; that I was being carried through it with lots of music, lots of dancing, lots of laughing, cooking, Happy Birthday’s, World Cup, bocce, kayaking, kids, ocean, friends, family, farm, quarry swimming, sunshine, moonshine, oysters, NPR, poker games, bonfires, growing babies, beach, books, Mucinex, construction, coffee and fireworks. A lot of Little Things that added up to one Big Thing. And I guess that’s the whole point of this Life thing.
These projects are both gratifying and challenging. They bring focus and purpose to your lens, forcing you to pick up the camera consistently when it might otherwise collect dust. Your photos or writing or videos get better over the course of it. But it gets repetitive, too. You get tired of lugging your camera everywhere and resort to your phone. You feel shitty or have the flu or spend too many days sitting at a computer and don’t feel like it. You run out of ideas. You get sick of looking at your face or your feet or your breakfast. You forget to take your shot until 11:50pm and are left with nothing but Zach Galafianakis on the Tonight Show. There are lots of days where nothing happens. It gets dangerously close to becoming a food diary.
But at the end, you have this incredible document of it all, and you see that there is a lot more magic in your tiny little life than you know. And you want to keep shooting.