The 10,000 Photo Project: Even the "Oops" Shots Make Me Happy

Test image for use in website banner design, featuring birdhouses.
Test image for use in website banner design, featuring birdhouses.

When the words "I'm gonna' take 10,000 pictures while I'm gone!" accidentally danced off my fingertips in an email to a friend before I left town, I wasn't being literal. Still, the idea kept resurfacing. I shoot photos daily. Why not?

Why not, indeed! Six weeks. 10,000 photos. No matter how you slice it, that's a lot of camera time.

Poorly lit photo of birdhouses on a wall.
Poorly lit photo of birdhouses on a wall.

The reason I decided to go for it is that I'm not shooting 10,000 glorious, pristine, exhibit-worthy photos. What I'm doing is capturing forms, light, textures, patterns - I can use these in my website designs. You can make a really fun banner for a happy Squarespace client starting with a pretty bad photo. Sometimes with a seriously bad photo! I'm talking about the kinds of shots most people would trash the first run through their day's take. But maybe you've heard the quote, "One man's trash is another man's treasure!" and in this case, one woman's shoddy phography is that same woman's design fodder!

Test image for use in website banner design, featuring a busy Seattle street scene.
Test image for use in website banner design, featuring a busy Seattle street scene.

Fortunately, the odds of ending up with a series of pretty good, memorable images from my trip moves up the scale when one is shooting that much, too, so it's win-win if I go for it.

Ho Hum photo of a Seattle street scene.
Ho Hum photo of a Seattle street scene.

I decided to go for it. But after having left LA with only 1200, (Yes, I know - I just said "Only 1200 photos in two weeks." Work with me,) I arrived at Seattle glad I hadn't blogged about the project. The only friends I'd told already knew it was a tenuous, evolving idea that I was comfortable abandoning at any time.

Then I shot 800 my first full day in town, and it was on. :)

Test image for use in website banner design, featuring a couple of butterflies.
Test image for use in website banner design, featuring a couple of butterflies.

Last night when I discovered that most of the images I'd shot in a butterfly house yesterday were substandard, I started to get pretty depressed. I'd moved too far into the world of instant-gratification, point-and-shoot image gathering. I haven't been spending a lot of time really considering the power of my camera. Not to mention my subjects were in motion. Still, I was bummed. Which led me back to my assertion that these shots don't have to be beautiful. Photoshop is my friend. I boast that I can use even the saddest of photos. Let's put it to the test, why don't we?

Dark photo of two butterflies on some leaves.
Dark photo of two butterflies on some leaves.

So here are a few examples of a handful of photos I've taken. I'm intentionally including "so what" photos - that you might either look at as accidents or just, you know, ho hum - not really sure she was going for that look, but whatever floats her boat! Then you can see some of the possibilities most of my shots give me.

All in all, I'm over being depressed. Yes, I want to go back to the butterfly house and have a do-over. But of the 600 images I captured yesterday, I've got some seriously usable material here. Yay technology!

Test image for use in website banner design, featuring some trumpet-shaped flowers.
Test image for use in website banner design, featuring some trumpet-shaped flowers.

Note: Click on the little thumbnail pictures scattered throughout this post to see examples of the shots I started with for each of these banners.

Ho Hum photo of some trumpet-shaped flowers in a butterfly house in Seattle.
Ho Hum photo of some trumpet-shaped flowers in a butterfly house in Seattle.

Note 2: I feel it's important to throw out a caveat. Clearly I'm in a specific kind of design "mood" and I'm creating a certain syle of image from these specific shots. There are no doubt millions of possible variations. This isn't something I've spent a great many hours on. What you're seeing are highlights from some fairly straightforward (read: kinda' quick) experimentation. But hopefully it's enough to show you what I mean when I say "Baby has options!" Cheers!