Failure-A-Day

I want to point your attention to something I’m really proud of:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/katjagee/

If you followed that link, you’ll see my Photo-A-Day project.  Specifically, you’ll see a Photo-A-Day project abandoned almost a year ago at picture #105.

For those of you who don’t know how a Photo-A-Day Challenge works, it’s pretty self-explanatory.  You take a photo, every day, for a year.  The photo must be taken on the day it’s counted for.  No taking a week’s worth of photos on Sunday, and then posting one of them every day for the next seven days. 

And, as you’ve probably noticed, I completely failed.

Granted, quitting a photo-a-day project is really common.  I’m pretty sure more people drop their photo 365 than their New Year’s resolutions.  But I was also confident that I wouldn’t be one of those people.  I’m practically an expert at goal setting and completion.  I’m the person that doesn’t do a New Year’s resolution; I do a New Year’s resolution spreadsheet.  For me, taking a photo every day with my iPhone was not going to be a problem. 

Oh boy, was I wrong.

One thing led to another.  First I missed a day and had to play catch-up.  Then I didn’t get a chance to post for a few days and got backlogged with editing images and writing descriptions.  And finally the coup de grace: the phone on my camera died.  

I bet you’ve heard all of those justifications before.  Running out of time, forgetting the project, equipment malfunction. . .It was like a laundry list of the New Years excuses everyone else used.  I just couldn’t believe they were happening to me—I wasn’t that kind of girl!  

I eventually stopped posting, with some vague idea that I would complete the project “when I had time.”  (I bet you’ve heard that one before, too).  I basically crossed my fingers and hoped that no one would notice as my short gap between posts stretched into months. 

And then a photographer mentioned it at a shoot.  He’d been following me on Flickr, and seen that I’d stopped updating.  

I gave him what was honestly a bullshit excuse. I told him my camera broke (technically true), and that I should be starting up again soon now that I owned a new phone.  

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t want to keep going.  My photo-a-day had become an “ought to,” and not a project I looked forward to.   I was being pushed into it out of obligation and the weight of public accountability rather than pulled into it because I was excited.  

The photo-a-day had been a fun project at the beginning.  I got the chance to experiment on the other side of the lens for once.  And although I enjoyed it, I also learned that I enjoyed modeling more—photography wasn’t what I wanted to do.  But after I came to that realization, I still felt obligated to take the next two-hundred-and-something pictures.  

Have you ever heard the phrase “The only way to fail is to stop trying?”  Well, I’m not so sure that’s true.   This project failed.  And yet, I got something worthwhile out of it.  It wasn’t that I failed posting a photo a day—I succeeded in learning what I wanted to about the camera.  Really, the biggest problem is that I kept going after I had gotten the value out of it.

So yeah, I failed.  In front of other people, no less.  But guess what?  It turns out this kind of failure is a success in its own way.  And that unfinished photo-a-day is staying there as a reminder that I’m proud I quit.