I have been carrying a camera – usually my Nikon D7100 – around with me all the time for a year, taking at least one picture a day and posting it it as part of a “Dailies” project on my Tumblr account. It wasn’t project that I planned, I just randomly had the idea one day (which happened to be the first of October last year).
There were few rules I set for myself. I could only select one item as a “daily”, although sets of items (images that go together) were allowed. There was no specific rule about what that “daily” had to be – initially, I started off thinking it should be an image that represented that particularly day the most, but as the project progressed I often chose the image that I liked best. However, not all pictures were “the best” – a lot, to be honest, were not particularly good at all.
Things I realised over the year
I didn’t skip a single day.
A picture a day is the hardest when you don’t leave the house. Those were days when I took few images and usually the worst ones – especially when I left it until five minutes to midnight and just felt utterly uninspired. There’s is one completely black picture, because that’s how uninspired I felt that day.
I think it’s okay to post pictures that aren’t all that great. Many might not agree with this since you are supposed to showcase your best work only, but I think it’s all right for people to know that not every photo even a good photographer takes is amazing (this is not to claim I am good in any way). What matters the most to me is that I know why a particular image doesn’t work and how I could make it great if I had another chance.
For the most part, the best pictures were on days that I took a lot of photographs and had a lot to chose from.
On some days, the “daily” wasn’t the best, but another picture. Sometimes I only realised that much later… because some photos “lose” over time, while others “last” or only begin to work after a while.
Not a “daily” for November 17, 2013 – I needed to stumble across Nguan first, to make me realise how to edit this image to make it work:
Most photographs were street photography – which I love to do.
Unfortunately, many people in the UK don’t share my love for street photography. They are very sensitive about having their (and especially their children’s) pictures taken. In Thailand, parents would shove their children in front of my camera, in the UK some would glare at me if they just saw that I had a camera, regardless of whether it was aimed at them, turned on or whatever. As the year went by, I felt more timid about taking photos and there were certainly images I didn’t take. That was a sad realisation, because I think street photography is a beautiful thing. I think the “photo paranoia” that people have is excessive. As I read somewhere – I am taking a picture of you, I am not trying to steal your soul. Please understand that. I am taking a picture of you because there is something beautiful about you. There is something that caught my eye, something that captures humanity and the state of being human. Also, if I’m doing street photography, I can’t ask you for permission beforehand – I am trying to capture a moment that disappears in an instant or two. I will delete it if you ask me to. I will send you a copy if you ask me. There are many pictures that I take that I delete anyhow because they don’t work out. Sometimes my camera might be aimed in your direction, but I’m actually not be pressing the shutter. Or I am, but you won’t appear in the photo. Like for the picture below, where three young women worried I was a photographing them. But if you are 10 metres away from me in a pitch-dark park it’s impossible, even with flash – I only caught the lights from the pub behind them, which is what I wanted anyhow.
If I could have a super-power, I would want a photographic eye. I could take any photo then, without anyone noticing. I would still not be stealing your soul.
I took more colour pictures than I expected – my background is analogue photography & darkroom processing. I ignored colour for a long time, not because I don’t like it but because it requires different skills, a different eye.
In the autumn and winter the lack of light made me feel uninspired. At some point I decided to take risks, break rules and shoot with auto-ISO – at very high settings. Some of those pictures did work out, although I don’t feel in general that I’ve tackled night/low-light photography properly yet.
For myself, the “dailies” give me a sense of what I’ve done that year, where I’ve been and with whom. Some of those snapshots are memories of very precious moments.
Some of my friends have given up objecting to being photographed, they know they don’t stand a chance. My friend I. in particular, since in our little group of four friends there were three photographers against one non-photographer. 😀
I didn’t travel quite as much as I had hoped, although pictures do come from multiple locations in the UK (all over London, Birmingham, Brighton, Norfolk), Austria (Graz, Vienna), Thailand (Bangkok, Koh Chang). I didn’t go to Scotland, Wales, Berlin, Prague, Copenhagen or Budapest, all of which I had vague plans for. Or anywhere else.
Having to take a “daily” pushed me to seek out places and events a lot more than if I hadn’t done this project. Both the Brighton and Norfolk trip happened for a large part for this reason. I sought out more corners and happenings in London too, like Kew Gardens and International Pillow Fight Day at Trafalgar Square.
Technical details: All images were shot on a Nikon D7100, originally with a Nikon 28-200mm f/3.8-5.6 lens. That got damaged (thanks to a broken UV filter), so then I used a Tamron 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 (originally from my Nikon F80) which I don’t like very much. Recently I have been shooting with a Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 prime lens, which is quite wonderful (even if I wish I had been able to afford the Nikkor 85 mm f/1.4 one). Photoediting was done with Lightroom and, later, Nik collection by Google. Obviously, I need more lenses and Photoshop.
What follows is a selection of some of the images I cherish the most (the rest you can find on Tumblr):
Oct 1, 2013
Monsoon season. One of my favourite things in the world.
Oct 5, 2013
At Rosa’s restaurant – Rosa being the pig, who was just the big boss here, sleeping wherever it pleased her, sticking her nose into the kitchen and sometimes even throwing over chairs.
Oct 6, 2014
Shells at Fishermen’s Village. It’s a simple photo, but it captured exactly what I had in mind.
Oct 9, 2013
This young guy caught my eye, with his headphones in his ears.
Oct 25, 2013
Even chain cafés can make for good photos. But then this outlet is particularly nice – they sometimes give me a free drink, because I get coffee for the traders at the farmers’ market there.
Oct 27, 2013
At the international food court, stopping by one of the Japanese stalls. I went by recently and didn’t see them anymore, sadly.
Nov 17, 2013
Dec 14, 2013
Kati Roll Company, Poland Street, London, UK
Jan 4, 2014
Pretty much the only snow I saw last winter.
Jan 19, 2014
Feb 5, 2014
Moriyama Mirai, ICA, London, UK
Moriyama Mirai came to London for the Q&A’s of two of his films screening as part of the Japan Foundation Touring Film programme. I couldn’t ask him any questions as I had managed to lose my voice completely that week (after a several rain-drenched bike rides), but I took plenty of photos, both during the Q&A’s and after, when about two Westeners and otherwise only Japanese fans were queuing to take their picture with him till after midnight. He may have wondered who that silent paparazzi was… He was gorgeous, I would have loved to do a photo shoot with him – even more because he is also a dancer.
Feb 13, 2014
People travel to the British Museum from the world round. I use it as a shortcut between university and Seoulmate (a tiny Korean supermarket), often taking pictures as I pass through the building and courtyard.
February 28, 2014
March 15, 2014
It was certainly not a photo I had in mind that day, it just jumped out at me when I looked at the crate of curly kale.
March 23, 2014
A trip to Brighton, with one old (I.) and two new friends (D. and M.) – a little group that has become very dear to me over the past few months. Sadly, one is now back in Japan, another heading to Edinburgh, leaving just two of us.
I somehow love this picture – there’s something in their expression that really captures me. Or maybe it’s just the nostalgia for that day.
April 16, 2014
Hurwundeki, London, UK
M. went for a haircut at Hurwundeki, one of my favourite spots in London. Coffee, authentic Korean food and haircuts all in one place.
April 19, 2014
It’s strange that this image works. The cat isn’t quite as sharp as I wanted it to be (it snuck inside right after I had shot this photo, giving me no second chance). There’s a lot of wall, but I don’t think that it overwhelms the image, it just leads the eye along. The old-style car also helps.
May 8, 2014
Freilichtmuseum Stübing, near Graz, Styria, Austria
This is an outdoor museum where you can wander around farmhouses from all over Austria. You can visit again and again, it never gets tiring. On some days there’ll be special events which may include anything from traditional soap making, bread baking, spinning to sheep herding. This is one of the few “sets of images” that I chose for a daily.
May 31, 2014
I was going to catch him unaware, but he looked at me just as I took the shot. I like the photo even better for that. He didn’t complain either. I don’t care for touristy places in London, but I love Chinatown. There’s a feeling of “home” there – of when I lived in Taiwan and even Thailand.
June 17, 2014
I love the love and happiness in this guy’s eyes. He also ticks my vanity box with his long hair. 😉
June 27, 2014
Federation State Café, Brixton Market & Village, Brixton, London
June 28, 2014
July 3, 2014
Shadows near Leicester Square, London, UK
Right-side up this picture wasn’t particularly interesting, but upside down it came alive.
July 6, 2014
French restaurant, Brixton Market & Village, Brixton, London
July 8, 2014
I travelled to Norfolk with D., I. and M., seeking Marnie. I. gave up objecting to the three almighty DSLR cameras. I wrote about the trip here.
July 18, 2014
Birmingham to London train, UK
This is an example of the kind photo-stalking I do. I took like thirty pictures of this guy who sat across from me in the train. He had no clue – he was (mostly) sleeping and I was shooting his reflection so it seemed like I was taking pictures of the landscape outside. Thirty pictures were needed because the reflection is only properly visible if the background outside is somewhat solid (e.g. trees but not the sky).
July 19, 2014
Koya, London, UK
This is a simple image, of the fabric that hangs in the entrance of Koya, a wonderful udon restaurant in Soho, Central London. It’s not particularly striking, but I find it immensely calming. Maybe because it is such an authentically Japanese place (this kind of fabric hanging is not uncommon at Japanese restaurants), maybe because their food is so wonderful and comforting (their udon with walnut miso is an enlightenment).
July 20, 2014
I worked at Queen’s Park that day. Walked with friends to Hyde Park, then headed east (and walked all the way home to Victoria Park). On the way, in the drizzle and as the sun was setting, we found this wonderfully lit-up street. I took multiple shots, not sure if any would turn out. If I dare say so, I love this photo. Magic of the golden hour indeed. It’s certainly in my top-5 of the dailies.
July 22, 2014
Fishing in Victoria Park, East London, UK
I downloaded a trial version of Google’s Nik collection for Silver Efex Pro. This is the first image I tried it on. I can see why everyone says Silver Efex Pro is a must-have for shooting (digital) in black & white. I don’t know why, but I think of these guys as Russian.
July 30, 2014
August 11, 2014
Goya Chanpuru bento (vegetarian)
I cook a lot, so, unsurprisingly, quite a few of the dailies are food pictures. I would like to do more food photography, although at the moment I haven’t got the best kind of lenses nor many props to work with. This Goya Chanpuru was me trying out (and vegetarianising) an Okinawan dish with bittergourd – using mock pork from a Vietnamese supermarket and tofu. Really loved the dish. The cat fabric is a tenugui, one of several gifted to me by a Japanese friend.
August 15, 2014
August 15, 2014
August 27, 2014
September 11, 2014
I had ‘better’ shots of this window, with more distinct silhouettes, but somehow I liked the abstraction of this image the most.
September 12, 2014
It’s not every day that you come across a camel in an airport. And this one took a piss.
- Where Marnie Was (Norfolk, UK)
- Coffee, Cake & Cats: At Lady Dinah’s, London’s One and Only Cat Café
- Photologia: Tesagan Gin Je Festival in Bangkok’s Chinatown (Too Long Ago)
- Photologia: Austria in the Winter, Minus the Snow
- Photologia: Brick Lane Sundays (East London)
- Photologia: Bangkok, around and about
- Of Noina, Fallang and Som-o: Thailand, Revisited (Photologia)
- Photologia: A Glimpse of Islands (Greece)
- Photo Hodgepodge: Delhi – Vienna – London – Dublin
- Photologia: Around Vasant Vihar, New Delhi
- Back from Kashmir: A Bit of Travelogue with Photographs
- An Ode to Film Photography