365 Days: Finding Beauty in Your Routine

Hello and thank you for stopping by this corner of the internet! My name is Marygrace Gladden and I am a photographic artist working primarily in analog mediums to convey my personal experiences. I have been using Gelatin to develop and scan my film since the summer of 2019. Mr. co-founder himself, Ben, invited me to start writing blog posts on random tidbits regarding photography & beyond. This past May, I graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with Ben – we both studied photography and bonded over many film stocks and cameras there. In April 2021, on my birthday, I set out to start taking a photo every day for a year. I was entirely inspired by Byron Wolfe’s Everyday online book. In fact he probably is the reason why I am writing this blog post, seeing that his work from Everyday resonates with the themes in discussion.

The things you do every day might be entirely unique to you. What is your routine; a sequence of actions regularly followed? Wake up, brush teeth, brew coffee, make oatmeal, go to work. Look at your surroundings and the things that make your routine possible – bed, sink, kettle, stove. What is it about these things that make you feel obligated to return to them each day? Do they bring you joy? Or are they just chores?

Since I started a 365 project back in April, I have found myself making more images of things that I practice or observe every day. Not so much because it is a simple and easy image to make, but more of what my present time is filled with and what will define this era of my life. Looking back on photos dating back to February 2019 of the routine things in my life, I can immediately remember their significance. Circumstance and regularity are what they came down to. 

Last summer, I would eat a banana with peanut butter for breakfast every morning. In the early days of the pandemic I would make myself angel hair pasta with butter for dinner quite frequently. I am always eating meals with mom and dad since I live at home. Last Fall, before falling asleep I would always try to read a chapter or two of whichever book I was reading on my Kindle. These rituals helped to define the era when a photo was made. Since then I have been documenting these moments to help reveal the changes in my own routine. (see the images I made reflecting them below all courtesy of Gelatin)

As a part of the effort to take a photo every day, I am obliged to wear my digital camera on my person regardless of where I am going (work, grocery store, farmers market, the framer, etc.). In this practice I have found myself in some of the most beautifully ordinary moments. Separate from street photography, capturing your routine is entirely unique to you and specific to the times you are in. Especially when shooting film, looking back on the photographs months after they are taken can transcend your recollection of the moment and transport you right back to when and where you shot it. 

In Byron Wolfe’s 2002 series of daily photographs he addresses various themes that resonated with his life at that time. He is continuously photographing his two sons, not always in an obvious way. There are several days where his photo implies the presence of his children. In addition to his straightforward photos, the captions he usually includes are somewhat blunt and humorous at times. Byron also addresses the pressure of this task. On December 15, about 6 months into his pursuit, he presents a black rectangle with gray handwriting, “What happened when I became more concerned with the destination than the journey”. It can be challenging when you set out to make a photo every day, though it might seem simple now seeing how technology has advanced in the almost twenty years since 2002. The pressure you put on yourself can make the photo-a-day journey either excruciating or exhilarating. That part is for you to decide. 

Your entire life will be filled with routines that define your day-to-day life. Finding sections in your routine to reflect on and embrace as an image can make all the difference. 

Will you take the plunge and start a 365 project like Marygrace and Byron Wolfe? Comment your questions, thoughts and plans below!

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