Meet the woman with a 365-day photo challenge.
With cameras in our pockets 24/7, it's more than easy to snap away at a moment's notice. But how often do we really take photos with intention? With a goal in mind? So often our phones, computers and cameras get filled with hundreds (if not thousands) of photos that simply get lost within a screen. Then we discovered Clair, a mum (of 5), photographer and businesswoman who is proving that if we set the intention, capturing photos destined for print is possible. She's set herself a challenge - to take a photo a day to truly capture the essence of her family.
We sat down with her to ask what the process has taught her, what challenges she has faced and what advice she would give to someone wanting to take on the challenge themselves.
Why have you set yourself this challenge?
To document the everyday moments that we too often miss. All the little adventures we go on and the simple daily routines that together shape what our life looks like, are so quickly passing by. I want to remember these days in years to come. "The days are long but the years are short" is a quote I truly feel resonates with this chapter of our lives. I also want to pick up my camera more than just for work. To encourage growth and learning in myself and to see the little moments for how big they actually are.
What do photos mean to you and why is it important for you to capture moments?
When I was 14 my mum passed away and I have so few photos of her or my childhood that I'm trying to journal our lives so my kids can look back on it as they get older and have their own lives and families. I believe that good photos take us back to the place in which they were captured. The emotions, the surroundings, sometimes the smells, the noises of laughter or happiness; they're a way to feel like you belong to something.
How do you decide what photo you will take each day?
I try not to think or plan what I'll photo on any given day, but more have my camera ready for if something grabs my attention. We just moved house so of course there are the expected and rather generic shots like our sold sign and us all standing out the front of the house. But then there's also a photo of Nicholas sitting in a baking dish being 'driven' (pushed) around the kitchen, so we could unpack without him getting in the way. It's one of my favorite memories of our move so far.
What is your process?
I can never take just one photo! I'm definitely using my camera more and it could be three or four times on a day that I find myself going 'yes that's the right moment'. I'd like to get better at taking just one photo with less room for choices, as I think it would challenge me even further. But I love that our days tell stories easily by watching a reel of photos in order.
To store them, I've made a 2019 folder, with a folder for every month. In the month folders, I have a raw folder and an edited folder. I upload all of them daily to the raw folder and then as I get to edit them (which isn't always straight away) I save them from LR to the edited folder, numbered by the day of the year the photo was taken on. So February 1st would be saved as 32 in the Feb edited folder, and if I took four photos that day it would be 32-4. I then have a folder saved as 365 on my desktop that I am moving one photo of each day (my favourite or the most significant one), which just has the files listed 1,2,3,4... and so on to today's date ready for when I print my album for 2019! It seems like a lot of double handling but I find it's the easiest most organised way and I can revisit a month at a time without getting confused.
What have you learnt so far through doing this?
I have definitely grown and changed as a photographer by giving myself this challenge. I spend a lot of time in my professional photography (boudoir) posing clients and giving direction, so this challenge has helped me let go a bit of that, and capture movement and free-flowing moments. To me, they are far more genuine and emotive than how I used to photo our family. I already spend so much time focusing on the little details, but now I am seeing my own children change and grow in different ways. More freckles daily. Tiny hands and feet that suddenly aren't so tiny. It's helped me find our everyday magic.
What has been the hardest part about setting the challenge?
Stopping at just one photo! Or sometimes finding the energy to take them. With five kids in our house ranging from 15 years to 10 months sometimes there are so many things I want to document out of one day. But I'm also like many parents running on coffee and very tired too. Finding the right balance of both is something I'm still working on.
Have you missed a day yet or have you gotten to the end of the day and forgotten to take something? If no - what do you do?
I have! Only a few days, but we have had the odd day where I've been sick or the kids were sick, and that's taken priority. Along with buying our own home, there were a few stressful days that just didn't get a look in. I try not to be too hard on myself though and generally find the days following I make up for it with 749 extra photos instead. It's disappointing at first but the best attitude is to just keep at it. "Rome wasn't built in a day" as my Grandmother says, so I figure I can only get better at it with time!
What do you love most about this challenge?
That every. single. one. of these moments would otherwise be forgotten or fleeting. I get to go back again and again to our amazing mini holidays, birthdays, and adventures. I regularly revisit the earlier photos in the year and think 'Wow! We have achieved so much in so little time! So, so much!' that would otherwise just blend into the routine and be likely forgotten until Facebook memories came up a year or two later. It's taught me that life goes so fast and I'm a calmer, more patient person since realizing that - only after coffee though of course!
Do you think you need a knowledge of photography or a fancy camera to undergo a photo a day challenge?
Not at all! The camera you have is the best camera. Not everyone can afford professional grade gear and I think it's about what you see and capture that tells the story, not what you've used to take it. Setting out to challenge yourself, even if it's only with an iPhone, would be a good way to inspire yourself and to begin to see the world differently. It might even help someone on the fence of photography take that next step enough to go out and upgrade their gear or buy their first DSLR.
What tips would you have for someone just setting out to complete the challenge?
Capture the moments that seem unimportant, like buttering toast on the kitchen bench as the morning light comes in. Or the messy box of shoes by the door. The little interactions between siblings or just them doing daily tasks seem to all add to the story and help to find what you are looking for.
Do you have a favorite photo so far and why?
Just one? That's tough! I like them all so much for different reasons, but if I had to choose probably the one above. Ben (my partner) took my camera from me and took this moment of Nicholas eating sand while we tried to take photos in Tomakin, NSW. It was such a bleak day and we had gone up just to take a drone shot of the ocean meeting the lake but it was too windy to send it up. So instead we had brunch at the river mouth general store (I recommend the stop there), went for a walk along the beach, found some old snorkel goggles that we gave to James (5) and he was 'scuba Steve' (below) the whole drive home. It was just a great day even though it was the opposite of what we set out for.
Clair is a Boudoir photographer based in the Macedon Ranges in Victoria. Clair has always been creative with a love for photography, painting, coffee and a good red wine. Clair enjoys empowering women through positive body artistry and showcasing the magic of the female body.
Together with her partner Ben, and their blended tribe of five kids, you can find Clair adventuring locally, fishing and documenting their life in the country on their farm.