Saturday 18 October 2014

thoughts on 500 snaps of summer

Well, it’s been a while hasn’t it? This half term has really flown by and somehow things have gotten away from me!  But this isn’t a complaint at all; I like to be busy and London is always so enticing that it’s easy to find myself in the city most evenings, and my flat has become that place I pass through to sleep every so often! I’ll return soon with a full account of what’s been going on (actually, I’m saving it for the Time for Tea post hosted by Abi at Creating Paper Dreams each month. Last month’s passed me by so I’m looking forward to sitting down with a cuppa and catching up with everyone!).  For now, I wanted to start by looking back over #500snapsofsummer.

In the final analysis, I didn’t make it. 500 pictures that I really love over summer was about 100 too many, although I must have taken well into the thousands.  So was this project a failure?
The answer to that is a resounding NO!

I LOVED it and it has been one of my favourite projects that I’ve EVER taken on.  And I will be doing it again next year!  Not only have I loved doing it, but I feel that I’ve learned a great deal, and gained a lot of insight from the process.  So in this post, I’m going to share a few of my favourites, and discuss some of things I feel I have gained from attempting #500snaps of summer.

One of the biggest things I have learned is that it’s good to delete. There were ever so many days when I would return from a day’s jaunt with well over 100 pictures on my camera, only to find that there were a mere handful that I really liked.  I do tend to take multiple versions of the same shot, and I’ve found that it’s good to be ruthless: I pick the best, and consign the rest to oblivion (or wherever it is that deleted pictures go).  This means that my photo library feels more organised, up-to-date and it much more straightforward to manage as I don’t have to sift through piles of pictures to find what I’m looking for.

I have also discovered the value of processing and uploading straight away. I don’t enjoy the computer aspect of photography, which means I tend to put it off.  However, processing smaller chunks as soon as I’ve taken them is much easier, and I’m more eager to have a look at the pictures when they’re fresh.  Given that I know that 100 photos can be trimmed down to ten or so when I discard the ones I don’t feel excited about, I can approach the task knowing it’s not going to take hours of screen time.  The whole thing is now streamlined to transferring photos to laptop, deleting like a loon, tweaking the few that have survived the cut, and uploading to Flickr. Job done!

It might be work saying that I don’t use Photoshop or do much editing. And I almost never crop. I will occasionally adjust the brightness sliders in the generic laptop photo-gallery software, but that’s about it. I don’t enjoy the computer work, and therefore have decided that I don’t want to invest the time or money in a photo-editing suite.  I don’t crop either. What I can do is keep learning how to get the best photos I can straight out of the camera.  I know I like softer, slightly over-exposed images, and I can often get that look by continuing to fiddle with my camera settings.  I always shoot in Manual mode so I have the option to do this.

One particularly important lesson was to Take. Camera. Everywhere. I have never regretted having it, but there have definitely been times when I regretted leaving it behind. On a side note, I have decided to invest in a new camera bag to make it easier to transport my camera around.  At the moment I just chuck it in my handbag, which isn’t really big enough, and doesn’t protect my camera at all.  But I don’t want to carry two bags everywhere; I want a camera-safe handbag to put all my stuff in and go. I need to remind myself that if it’s a choice between taking the camera, or taking something else, ALWAYS TAKE THE CAMERA.

Play to your strengths and your likes. I have taken a lot of pictures of food.  I like food a lot.  I have saved almost none of those photos because they don’t look good.  I think my memory of some of those delicious culinary moments isn’t particularly visual.  So the photos don’t really hold much value for me.  That doesn’t mean I’ll stop taking them, but I have decided to cut myself some slack and accept that in all probability, I won’t like the final object.

So playing to my strengths means more pictures of people: as I mention below, I seem to place the highest value on these shots.  I love to capture the people in my life and I’ve been really delighted with the outcomes.  I also like to get photos of the places I’ve been; in London you may think this means pictures of famous landmarks and so on, but it’s the ones of my London that I love.  The London of a local who has found a lovely new cinema, or a restaurant with deep-fried macaroni cheese, or signs with incredible lettering.  These are my strengths.

It was hard to cut down to a handful of photos I love (My first edit for this post contained about 50 images) and I think that’s because I was careful to include only pictures that I felt had value to me.  Pictures that represented my summer, the wonderful people in my life, London, and freewheeling around the city in a highly irresponsible manner.  The 15 or so I’ve selected are not representative of my summer at all.  But it’s interesting to see that when I forced myself to really be selective, I’ve gone for pictures of people rather than places, and that I’m in a large number of them.  Thanks to the joy of the self-timer, the input of the odd other photographer here and there, and my huge and ever-growing vanity. In fact, now that I look, 5 of them are self-timed, and the camera-on-the-ground look seems to be rapidly becoming my signature style!

If nothing else, I have learned that I LOVE photography.  It is, and continues to be, something that makes me happy and excitied, and enables me to capture moments and preserve memories. #500snapsofsummer has been a wonderful focus, so watch this space as next year I have every intention of preparing in advance and completing it!

Instead of, y’know, deciding on a whim that it’s July and maybe it would be nice to take some photos.

Maybe you’d be interested in joining me next year?

Kisses xxx

P.S. I would also like to say thanks to those of you who followed along with me on this project.  I appreciate it's not always the most interesting thing to see an endless stream of photos appear, but I have really valued your comments over the summer!


  1. Enjoyed every moment of it and have even started to try those camera on the ground shots myself. Thanks for all the inspiration and I'll look forward to next Summer's crop.

  2. Great post! And I agree with Jane, you have been an inspiration with this project. I love your style and look forward to this next summer!

  3. Great photos -love them all!
    Sorry to ask again but how do you get your ground shots-I still just get pictures of feet?

  4. I loved every post - pics were great and a joy to look at. I used to live in London (am now in the sticks) so it was super to see London in all its glory.