At the beginning of June, I gave myself an assignment: To take a photo of an "everyday exhibit" - an object or set of objects that I see and that I find beautiful - every day during the month of June. The resulting photos can be seen on Instagram and below.
A few notes and observations about the project:
- First off, there are 29 photos instead of 30 because I missed one day (last Saturday, June 25th) when I was busy spending time with good friends. I'm cool with that. Not every goal is accomplished every day. Spending time with the people I love is a big priority in my life, and I'm happy that my day was full of just that.
- There were some days when I struggled to find something that I found beautiful. For example, on the day I took the photo of the ice in my glass, I was not feeling particularly inspired. I searched and searched and then noticed that the way the light was shining through the ice was kind of pretty, more so than was captured in the shot. But it was a stretch. I just wasn't feeling it. That's okay, too. Some days are for looking in instead of for looking out.
- On other days, beauty was abundant. The phone booth by the table and the arched window: beauty was all around me that night. I spotted that vignette from down the street and took the time to walk over, eyes up and looking all around. I expect I was in the right mood for taking it all in. I was open to experiencing that moment.
- My favourite moments by far, though, were those when I was searching for something beautiful and was vastly rewarded by the effort by discovering a treasure that I otherwise wouldn't have found. The gemstones on my daughter's windowsill, for example. I've passed by them and given them no more than a glance a hundred times but on that day, when I was consciously looking for beauty, I finally saw those stones and their beauty in the sunlight. The rows of shoes by the door. The colourful dials on the fire truck. I wouldn't have appreciated these everyday exhibits without this assignment.
- I love that as I look at this collection of photos, each one calls up memories of what was happening that day. Some of these memories are good, some not so good. Finding the dinosaur family on the bathtub. Sending peace to those lost in Orlando as I stopped beside each of 49 chalk hearts. Photography is such a beautiful way of telling a story and I love how these 29 photos tell a story of this time in my life.
- This assignment reminded me how much I love photography and want to make time for it in my life, and gave me a much needed boost to my creativity in general. I've been writing more and ideas are sparking for all kinds of new endeavours. What's more, most days, taking the time to look for beauty felt like a little bit of me time, a form of self-care. I gave myself permission to take at least a few moments just for beauty's sake, just to please myself. It was lovely and needed and it has left me wanting to do more.
I plan to keep up the project, posting photos of everyday exhibits and other images that I find joyful and inspiring, if not daily then often. I want to keep my head up, and I want to take my time to search for the beautiful on days when it does not feel so available. I want to keep proving to myself that it is there, and getting photographic evidence for the days when I fear it is not.
Because look. It's all around us.