Still Alive / Day 12 of 365

I’m happy to say that this transition away from social media has been with relative ease. That is to say, it’s been without drama. I’ve done week breaks here and there, I’ve even done a couple months off before – but there’s always been an anticipation to return. This time feels different; I don’t really feel like I’m missing out. I don’t even have the urge to go back.

I haven’t come to post words, though. Today I want to post a few pictures. I went out for a work “going-away” / “get together” last weekend. Despite the usual drag of going to work-related events, the boyfriend and I had a great time seeing everyone. Our office split up a few weeks ago, as people are moving away or moving to new offices, and it was nice to see everyone together in the same place. I didn’t get many photos, unfortunately, but here are the few that I did manage to snag:

 

Also, side-note, I’ve actually been carry my camera around with me somewhat often. In the past month, I’ve taken it out at least half a dozen times. I don’t think I’ve used my camera that much in the last 3 years. Woot, woot! More pictures to come!

I have to cut this post short though – it’s waaaaay past my bed time.

Again, as a reminder, I’m not posting daily for this project. The goal is to abstain from social media for 365 days and document my life and experiences as I slowly chug along. That being said, I hopefully will get another post out before the end of the weekend. Hopefully talking about some booooooooooooks. Annnnyyyyyways, long words mean I’m sleepy.

Goodnight y’all.

12 / 365

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Working on Old Projects

Sometimes life gives you exactly what you need. I’ve been over stretching myself lately with a project that seems too big to handle. It’s stressed me out even though I’m under no obligation to complete or work on it. For months, I’ve shoved it to the back of my head. Today was one of the days where it roamed back to the front of my mind again.

Staying motivated for projects that are completely voluntary can be difficult. God knows 365 projects are rough at times. Yet, when they are complete, it feels good to have worked on them. I’m pumped about this project and can’t wait to start working on it again.

Also, I randomly ran across a friend’s video. Joel is so inspiring, I encourage you to check out his work on Flickr.

BLOGtober day twenty!

Photography 365 Project (Masterlist)

WORK IN PROGRESS

In 2010, I loved taking pictures. I brought my camera everywhere. The only thing that competed with my passion for taking pictures was my love for looking at other people’s pictures. In those days many other photographers were doing 365 projects, which meant that they taking a photograph everyday for one year.

The rules for this project were extremely broad. Many people did self-portraits daily. Unlike the selfie, these photographers would venture out with their DSLRs and ten-second times. They’d prepare by dragging props into the middle of the woods or Photoshopping themselves into insane environments. Other photographers would take landscape images, foodies would photograph their meals, each group was different.

At that time, I was incredibly inspired by Anna Szczekutowicz, who fit into the first group. She traveled to Poland and spent a lot of time in the woods creating self-portraits. Shortly after she finished her project, I decided to start my own.

January of that year, I made my first attempt. Around day 20 I missed a day and decided to start over. Then, I failed again and again for the same reason. My standards were set way too high. Finally in May I started for the last time. I met another photographer named Carolyn Snyder, who pushed me artistically. Her daily comments helped keep me on track.

In May of 2011, I finished my first 365. 18:365

Shortly thereafter I deleted most of the photos. I was ashamed at most of the photographs I had taken. They didn’t compare to the other photographers around me. There were fantastic artists who created stunning images daily. Yet, I barely had anything that I was proud of.

A couple weeks ago I decided to start archiving the original images from that 365. I didn’t have a backup of the project and I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t lose it. As I saved each individual file, I realized that the project drastically improved my photography skills. Each photo was also attached to a memory, which is incredibly valuable.

Other photographers have deleted their FlickrStreams as well. They don’t want to show their images that they aren’t proud of. I get it. Through my 365 I took plenty of cat photos and images that make me blush with embarrassment. These photographs definitely aren’t my best work. But they show progress.

At the beginning, I barely had my own camera. A few months in I bought my first lens (Canon 50mm F/1.4). I didn’t know anything about cameras. I shot everything on auto. Then I got the lens and shot on Aperture Priority (basically auto). Slowly I learned how to photograph myself and others. I learned how to find environments to take pictures in. I learned how to pick up my camera tirelessly and run out to take a picture before the sunset.

I’m posting my 365 because I want others to see that you can start with shitty pictures. In fact, everyone does. We all start by exaggerating contrast or colors or something. Slowly over time you learn how to edit. You learn how to over-expose. Then, eventually, you start taking less shitty pictures. It just takes a while.

Rather than posting all images into one article, I decided to post them into week compilations. For example, week one is day one through day seven of the project. This way, you can navigate through them without seeing 365 pictures instantly. Also without crashing your web browser.

All the original text is posted with each image. While some of the things I said were silly, I feel it necessary to leave included. There is a ridiculous amount of spelling errors. In the world of spell-check I don’t know how it happened but I left those errors there too. Hopefully you can just roll with it.

I’ve posthumously renamed each week, you can click on any of them to get started. Once you’re inside a post, you can navigate to either the previous or the next post. I wish you all the best of browsing. Please excuse me while I blush over how bad some of these pictures are.

 

Week One (Eric begins by doing yoga in weird places and dragging friends into nettle plants)

Week Two (Then writes things across his pictures and begins taking dark images)

Week Three (He then leaves his room to venture into the woods, which he wouldn’t leave for the next 12 months)

Week Four (Eric learns how to tint his images, and chooses them all to be red)

Week Five (Then forgets how to operate his camera by breaking the shutter)

Week Six (He risks his camera’s life by photographing a water balloon fight with flash, everybody hates him)

Week Seven (Apparently Eric still has friends. Ooooh and a nice kissing picture)

Week Eight (The week starts fancy but degrades quickly to toilet paper and kitchen pictures)

Week Nine (Lightly colored pictures, also known as the moment Eric stops over-saturating him images)

Week Ten (A scanner isn’t a camera but I guess it’s part of your 365 project)

Week Eleven (Fancy black and white pictures for photography class)

Week Twelve

Week Thirteen

Week Fourteen

Week Fifteen

Week Sixteen

Week Seventeen

Week Eighteen

Week Nineteen

Week Twenty

Week Twenty One

Week Twenty Two

Week Twenty Three

Week Twenty Four

Week Twenty Five

Week Twenty Six

Week Twenty Seven

Week Twenty Eight

Week Twenty Nine

Week Thirty

Week Thirty One

Week Thirty Two

Week Thirty Three

Week Thirty Four

Week Thirty Five

Week Thirty Six

Week Thirty Seven

Week Thirty Eight

Week Thirty Nine

Week Forty

Week Forty One

Week Forty Two

Week Forty Three

Week Forty Four

Week Forty Five

Week Forty Six

Week Forty Seven

Week Forty Eight

Week Forty Nine

Week Fifty

Week Fifty One

Week Fifty Two

 

Thank you so much for checking this out. This project changed my life and it laid the groundwork for years of photographing. If you want to check out my more recent photography, check out my Flickr or follow me on Facebook.

Three years after completing this project, I completed another 365 project. Instead of taking a picture every day, I blogged. It doesn’t matter what you’re passionate about as long as you’re out there doing what you love. A friend asked me once why I do all this. I told him that I create because it’s what I’m passionate about. Is there any other purpose in life than to follow your passion?

An End of Sorts

Well, I’ve written this post 3 times already but nothing seems to fit right. It doesn’t feel like an entire year has passed. Nor does it feel like I’ve written each day. I’ve moved from Texas to Mississippi, back to Texas, then to South Carolina. I’ve met some amazing people and done so much. I’ve experienced the highest highs and some of the darkest pits I’ve felt in my life.

I’ve written about missing home, kissing a questioning guy, and I’ve even shared a poop story. You know it’s personal when you can talk about poop. I’ve went from being bald to having a glorious 1.5” mane. All the way from going to a technical school to doing a technical job. While this year has been full of struggle, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

There isn’t much more to say other than thank you. The support I’ve received from this project has been outstanding. I’ve loved and hated writing each day. While I won’t continue posting every night, I will be writing often. I have many more projects to do and more adventures to experience. Cheers and, again, thank you for following me through this year.

365/365

Another Project, Another Day

These past few weeks have been full of reflection, upon both my work and who I am as a person. During this time, I’ve found my mind moving in circles but always returning to the desire to write a book.

Above my bed I have a stack of books that I read while laying down. Each book is different but I’ve found that I read many biographies and journals. A few of these books included “Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind”, “Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, “Eat. Pray. Love.”, “An Artist at War”, and “AWOL on the Appalachian Trail”. For my birthday I ordered, “On the Road” and “Into the Wild”.

There are two common themes for all of these books: intense introspection and traveling to a new location. The same reason that compelled these authors to share their stories is why I feel the need to write my own.

Over the last year I’ve moved from my family in Minnesota to a new group of people in Texas. After two months I left for Mississippi with only a few people I knew. I found myself back to Texas, Minnesota, and settling into South Carolina. Each one of these locations has brought another part of myself out.

While I feel the need to write as a way to organize my thoughts, I also feel compelled to explain this last year. Too much has happened for my brain to process and maybe it will help someone else. Maybe they will be able to figure out a piece of their life through my stories.

All that I know right now is that I’m going to write a book.

223/365

 

 

The Lessons the Years will Teach

If the past two years have taught me anything, they’ve shown me that life can pull you in one million directions at once:

As an artist, my work has shifted from photography to blogging. I’ve felt as if each type of art has grabbed a different limb of my body: Photography firmly grips a leg while blogging has a hold of the other. I couldn’t stand without them. My hands are tied between drawing and painting. I could never pull images out of head as well as I directly draw my ideas onto paper. There is always a pull towards drawing because of its ability to express complex ideas simply and efficiently. Music is a tight grip around my neck. The melody is enough to enchant a monotonous singer like myself to sing loudly and proudly. If that isn’t inspiration, I don’t know what it.

Each day I find that I’m learning more than the last and that each day proves valuable. Whether or not it’s evident to anyone else, I feel like I can write with more clarity and poise than I could have 212 days ago. While I didn’t imagine blogging to be like this, I’ve found a great pleasure in writing daily. Life pulled me into another 365 and I responded with a “YAHOO!”.

Photography was my life-blood two years ago because it was the only art that I did regularly. As a result of neglecting other mediums, I fell in love with the only way I knew how to express what I felt. I couldn’t have envisioned shifting mediums so dramatically. Blogging is very different from photography but yet I find the same satisfaction pressing the keys on my keyboard as I do pressing the shutter. It still amazes me that I even changed.

Life also threw lemons at me. It wasn’t like the cheery “if life gives you lemons” quote. No, life rained fury at me and through a dozen curve-balls. I never truly thought about working a job that I would dislike. While it does take up most of my day, it also offers the opportunity to do what I love daily. I’m fortunate that my hours give me enough time to write while simultaneously making enough money to live more than comfortably. Life gave me the lemons, and I chose to make a blog with them (Well, I did make Navel Oranges I guess!).

There is no way I could classify these past two years as good or bad. I’ve only taken experience and a love of life from them. There have been ups and downs but I know in the end that I’ve been growing. Many mistakes have been made (and even more will come) but I’ve found a fire in myself because of them. The drive to move forward and to grab onto inspiration in all of its wondrous forms. If anything, these years have only catapulted me forward and into a new person.

I hope that whomever you are, even if it’s just me reading this in a couple years, you follow your passion. Life will throw lemons at you, and life doesn’t play fair. It’ll freeze those lemons and chuck them at places you don’t want to be hit. These passions, even if just a whim, will lead you to the greatest feeling: being truly alive.

Thank you for following my on my 365 journey, I have appreciated your company. You’ve taken time out of your day to read the words that flow through me. For that, I am forever grateful. Have a wonderful night/morning/anything between.

212/365

 

The Beginning of Blogging

Waking up to my 100th day in Charleston tomorrow is going to be strange. Ever since I’ve started this 365 project the days have flown by. Tomorrow will also mark the 200th day of this project and I feel forced to re-evaluate the reasons why I started blogging. After all, I’ve spent more time blogging than I care to admit and to an audience that I could count on my left hand. The point of this post isn’t going to be to entertain. I just want to write this one for me.

The whole project originates back in 2009, when I first ran across Anna Szczekutowicz‘s work on Flickr. She was a younger photographer at the time and I found her work around 100 days into what she called a 365 project. It’s where she took a photograph everyday and posted it on the site. There usually wasn’t much writing but man were her photos breath-taking.

By 2010 I had decided to do my own photography 365 project. I tried it, usually only making it to day 20 before giving up. On my 6th try I made it all the way through. Another artist named Carolyn Snyder helped motivate me and kept me accountable for my posts. Around this time Anna took down her photo-stream and I felt like somebody had ripped a carpet out from under me. Removing your original inspiration leaves you with a hole and forces you to see what truly motivates you.

What I found motivational turned out to be my need for expression. The project gave me an outlet to get away from the world and do my thing. While it was escapism at the best, I found I grew more with photography than anything else in my life. The bug had bit me and I was forced to scratch that itch for years.

My project completed in early 2011 with no hiccups. Photography coursed through my blood at this point and seemed to be the only path I had. Many of my friend knew me because they saw me carrying a camera around. I had shot a dozen senior photos and most of my friends had modeled for me during the 365 project. I lived and breathed art.

Another great inspiration at the time was Linus Hui of Linus & the Feel Good Factory. He completed three 365 projects and evolved my concept of the project. Linus’ art was photography but it had a different take. Instead of just being a beautiful photograph, he included paper crafts that he designed. In addition, at the bottom of his posts, he wrote a tutorial on how to be or do something. “How to fake interest in conversations or on dates” was just the fourth day of his 3rd project.

What Linus showed me was that there really aren’t any rules on a 365 project. When I worked on my photography 365, I was strict and wanted a full year of only images. After that, I realized that art was so much greater than the limitations that we place on it. Restricting myself to taking photographs produced a portfolio but it didn’t satisfy my creative itch. I need something more.

I spent years looking for what that scratch might be. I delved into a 90-day project (like Anna’s) and found no satisfaction.Producing art had always given me fulfillment but I couldn’t figure out why it stopped. Perhaps this is something all artists face occasionally.

2012 was a great year because I finally found something that satisfied me. At this time, the photography community shifted from a photo-sharing site (Flickr) to Facebook. Involvement with up-and-coming photographers on Flickr gave me the ability to be friends with photographers on Facebook and interact with them on a personal level. These interactions lead me to becoming active on WordPress.com, where I could interview and write about artists.

The most satisfaction came from writing about artists and reviewing their work. This time bore “The Anatomy of a Dreamer“, “The Memory Get-ter“, “Navel Oranges“, “Eric Albee” (original personal blog), as well as many other projects. The inspiration that lead other artists to create inspired me. I suddenly understood why people create and I felt it again in a greater sense.

Mid-2012 I changed career fields and spend June and July immersed in training. I didn’t have access to the outside world until September and I was so wrecked from training that I didn’t know who I was anymore. The damage the training incurred made me have to reconstruct who I was and who I wanted to be.

Blogging came back naturally in slow increments. I experimented with other mediums like painting and vlogging as a way to figure out who I was. Inspiration came sporadically and I didn’t have very much time to myself. The nights I spent painting were often concluded with a sigh and a lack of satisfaction. The skill I desired needed more time than I had to give to it. I wanted to be good at these things but I couldn’t spend 10 hours learning a new skill each day.

The interesting thing is that although I didn’t feel satisfied, I still felt compelled to create. Something drove me to go to art and I couldn’t explain it at the time.

Stress ruined me from September to October and I turned to many Buddhist texts. I found that the advice I read could relieve a couple of hours of stress and give me an emotional break. Essentially these books helped me rebuild myself. Everyday I woke up and dreaded going to work. I would come home after 9 hours and cry in the shower or sob on the phone seeking consolation. Books like “The Power of Now” taught me coping mechanisms and released the clamp I felt I had on my head.

In October I met another artist who lived in the same building as me. We shared our frustrations and meeting him released a lot of stress. Suddenly I knew that I wasn’t alone and that other people suffered through the same things that I did. We spent a lot of time talking about art and just hanging out. It was good to physically know an artist.

I was forced to move away from that friend in October.  I didn’t have anyone to have deep conversations with anymore. Blogging filled that hole and shifted purposes. It gave me a way to create a monologue of what I wanted to say. Although there wasn’t conversation, I was able to express myself again.

Around the end of November I had an emotional charge about censorship. I couldn’t contain myself and it was like a last burst before I started blogging regularly. The truth is that I’ve blogged since my 2010 trip to Spain. It wasn’t until this emotion charge that I felt compelled to write more often and with purpose.

December 2nd I decided to start another 365 project. Instead of taking photographs everyday I wanted to write. It didn’t matter what I wrote about as long as it was 100 words every day. My job couldn’t take my life away from me and I wanted to prove that to myself. I was an artist and it was in my soul to create.

That unnerving lack of satisfaction I dealt with disappeared. Even though I didn’t have my camera or the equipment I could produce something that was my own. Days passed by and I had writing to prove that I was alive. No longer did I feel totally repressed.

After about 15 days I knew the project was going to stick. The words started off philosophical and my posts revolved around dealing with stress. These were things I knew and could easily write about. I was recording my life at one of the most stressful times I had ever experienced and sharing that with everyone.

As the year concluded my mother flew down to visit for Christmas. When the holidays were over,  the stress about work changed to homesickness and loneliness. I felt alone again and I wanted my old life back. My blog reflected this with about 20 posts about missing my cat and house.

The reason I started my 365 was to relieve this stress and to talk about it. Perhaps blogging was more of a conversation with myself than it was with anyone else. Photography was an expression that other people could appreciate even if they didn’t understand the message. Blogging is very different. It was direct and a tool I needed to rebuild a broken Eric.

As time progressed blogging documented my life events rather than hopeful Buddhist advice. When a boy unexpectedly kissed me in class, I wrote about it. Going home was a huge time for me, so I spent a week writing about it. Finishing training was a huge event. Moving to Charleston on day 100 was a huge life change. Becoming involved with another openly gay guy here lifted me up through 5 posts (and shoved me back down afterwards with 10 posts). Blogging was a way to digest everything that was happening.

As tomorrow marks day 200 out of 365 days, I really have to look at why I blog. Is there purpose to write for another 165 days? The answer is obvious; yes.

Blogging means so much to me; It records my life at any given moment it allows me to digest thoughts and things that I’m thinking about regularly, it opens my eyes towards what I’m doing with my life. Blogging reminds me that I still have some say over what’s happening. It gives me the opportunity to share my passions and experiences with other people. I feel human after writing. Blogging gives me something to share. It is medicinal after a heartbreak. Writing this fuels a fire within that I cannot put out. I feel compelled to create everyday and I haven’t found anything that satisfies me greater than caving in to that desire.

That is why I blog.

199/365

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I apologize for how long this post became. This past year has been filled with a lot of emotions and I didn’t want to restrain why I blog. That would almost be self-defeating. If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I really urge you to start your own blog over at WP.com. It’s life-changing, free, and will take you only 10 minutes to learn.