I’m starting a 365 project today or — as many have pointed out — a 366 project. My hope is to share a photo each day of this year accompanied by an 8-minute sketch. (I give myself 8 minutes to write by hand, beginning with the words “I am,” and then transcribe my words here.) My goal is to stretch my creative voice and practice photography more intentionally. And I’m eager to share with the community of photographers inspired by Jenny Stein, the host of TWIP Family! Jenny did a 365 project 6 years ago, which I admired from afar, and since listening to her podcast, I’ve found myself especially motivated to take photos of the people and places I love. Jenny is starting another 365 project today, and she has invited her listeners (and anyone else!) to join her.
I will be posting in three places: here on my blog; on instagram as @zanekathryne; and on the flickr TWIP family 365 project group, also as zanekathryne. Here’s to a happy new year filled with creative work and generous living!
I am sitting on the couch with a baby asleep in my lap (do we sense a theme here?). Ellen is climbing up onto the table and then peering into the lamp. “Mama, there are a bunch of dead flies and ladybugs in here.”
“Ellen please get down,” I respond automatically. But then, “No, wait. Actually, stay up there.” I reach across the chest in front of the couch for the camera. Fortunetly, it is within arm’s reach.
“Mama, why are you taking a picture of me?”
“Because I like you up there. Because I like you. I like the things you do. I like the things you say.” Did I say those things? I wish I would have.
I am walking down the path that leads to the chicken coop and the girls rush past me — running ahead, unplugging the electric fence — eager to greet the birds and check for eggs. The day is cold and dark and there is just one egg. A light blue egg, a shade slightly softer than Amabel’s coat. She wants to hand it to me but my hands are full with baby, compost bucket, camera, and letters to put in the mailbox. This is my recent condition: hands full. My two greatest mothering tools are my voice and my hands, but for the past two months my hands have been so occupied with our little baby man that I’ve had to rely on my voice with the girls and I’m feeling the strain. My voice isn’t tired; the girls are tired. Tired of me talking so much. Telling them what to do instead of guiding them with my hands. I long to put my arms around them, to do projects next to them — or to simply get a glass of water myself instead of asking them to help me again.
Jeffrey arrives on the scene. He takes the egg from Amabel and hands her a sheet of ice that he lifted off the top of the wheelbarrow. As I watch the girls examine the ice (we have no snow yet — but ice is a welcome sight), I am grateful that his hands are here to do the work that my hands long to do. I set the compost bucket down and somehow manage, with a baby wrapped up on my chest, under my down coat and thick scarf (“Mama, you don’t even look like you have a baby. You just look really plump!”) to take a photo of our daughters with their ice on the day after Christmas.
Some of my favorite photos on instagram are scenes of everyday life taken from above. Meals, projects, books, desk tops (the old fashioned kind), crafts — I love to see what other families are creating, reading, cooking . . .
Inspired by this view of the world, I’ve been documenting the tops of our busy tables — capturing a visual reminder of what occured before one project was cleared away to make room for the next. And I’ve found myself with a growing series of these images.
Most of my photos “from above” include little hands, which puts everything into context. These wonderful little hands were here, doing all these interesting little things.
Documenting helps me to notice the details and pay attention to the creative process unfolding every day all around me. And they notice when I notice. They notice that I’m interested in their projects and because of that, they delve more deeply into them.
Also, the view from above doesn’t look quite so much like a mess, does it?
We haven’t made any costumes yet. Although we’ve brainstormed a handful of times, and have plenty of ideas — the girls may just need to raid the dress-up basket at the last minute this year. In the meantime, we had fun staging photos for uncle James today, who is working on a Halloween blog post for the NonGMO project. I love a witch in an Irish Dancing wig!