The 366 day project (leap year) started on New Year’s Day 2016, when I simply placed the number “1” at the beginning of my Instagram post. I’m not completely sure what sparked this, or why I typed that simple number, but I turned it into a challenge for myself. I was going to post at least once on Instagram every day in the year of 2016. Am I a professional photographer by any means? No, and I didn’t even have a camera minus my two film cameras (although I just got a Canon T6!!!) – a Konica TC Autoreflex and Minolta Maxxum 7000, both of which I’d been shooting with for less than a year. However, these cameras and the photos they were producing got me really interested in photography, and really helped me form a new way of thinking about day-to-day life. The ideas produced in my film photography quickly got carried into my everyday life, seeing each thing as a shot. So why not use that in the Instagram world and see what I could do?
I’ve always been someone who longs for adventure. However, in the days that seemed really mundane, it was hard for me to find things to enjoy. This project broke that mold and did so pretty quickly. As I looked for things to post each day, I realized that even on the days where I didn’t really do much, there were small things that made me smile; things that reminded me just how good life was. I looked at the people and settings in my life differently, seeing a new sense of purpose in each one of them. As cheesy as this sounds, I found a new beginning in each day- new experiences, new views on old things, everything. I think this project pushed me to love more, be more appreciative of everything I have in my life, and to see the beauty in everything- the way God does. I feel that overall, I have tried to carry this new view into my photos for this project.
This project pushed me to grow in photography a lot. It pushed me to try to see mundane, everyday things in a way people don’t really see them- appreciate things that people normally pass over because that’s just what they do everyday.
It has pushed me to go to places I probably wouldn’t usually go, reach out to people and ask them how to do certain things photography-wise, adventure more than I’m usually comfortable doing, helped me learn that not everything has to be on a strict schedule, has really let me see that photography is something I might want to pursue a little bit further, and has really brought me a sense of vulnerability that I didn’t have before. It’s been amazing having people walking up to me and asking about the project or always asking “what day are you on now??” or “can I be in one of your posts??”. This simple act- that I feel is filled with positivity- is something that is making an impact on people. I never thought an Instagram challenge I’ve made for myself would do that.
As far as themes go for my pictures, I’d say that usually they are just things that happen in the day-to-day life of Maris. Every now and then, I’ll post one of my older film pictures from one of my trips and maybe just post about something I’m struggling with, or something that’s been put on my heart to write about. This year has brought about a lot of changes within my life and I’ve really loved having this challenge to document it. I love showing people my adventure and really hope that I can make a small impact on some people- I hope they can see positivity and that they can go on and spread their own.
Overall, I’d say this has been an incredible experience, and I challenge anyone to do it. It doesn’t matter your photography skills or what equipment you have to shoot pictures (I used an old film camera and an iPhone… anything is possible), it’s a very rewarding thing. It makes you look at things in a drastically different way and become more and more grateful for what you have. It brings you together with people you didn’t know possible. And honestly, it produces a change within you that you’ll never lose- your new view of the world is not something that can be taken away because it’s instilled within you. You just have to embrace it and allow it to grow. I used to be a very cynical and analytical person, and this challenge has pushed my creativity and positivity to limits I never thought possible for myself. I promise you won’t regret doing this challenge. All it takes is some form of camera and a little bit of discipline- just be sure to keep track and add your own little touch if you want. Happy New Years and go rock that 365 day challenge!