The Project: Take a snapshot of our son Christian every day for the first year of his life.
That sounds simple enough. It’s like those popular 365-day projects that many photographers do to improve their craft, but only with a lot less pressure and an even bigger reward of amassing an enormous collection of images to cherish of our little boy.
Just Snapshots, No Pressure
One of the aspects of this project that I came up with when I started it (at the last minute) was that these would just be snapshots, and not the full fledged, post-production quality images that other 365 projects suggest. There are times when I can afford enough spare time during the busy life of a new parent to really shoot for great images, but even when there’s not, there’s always time for a quick snapshot.
Which brings in the next aspect that makes this nice and easy – these are all taken with my camera phone. That means, wherever we are when I want to capture my daily photo, the camera on my phone is right there and I don’t have to breakout the full DSLR each time. Very convenient in my little world.
How It Started
That’s really how it started. Just a few days before my wife gave birth (which was 6 days early, by the way), we were at our local Sprint store upgrading my phone to the new-at-the-time HTC Evo. It was a big upgrade from the smartphone I had at the time, and knowing that it had 8 MP and could shoot HD quality videos meant that micro-SD card was going to fill up fast.
And this was only 3 weeks after I finally broke down, took an advance on the next 10 years of Xmas presents, and invested in the Canon 5D Mark II. I know, spending $3,200 on a new camera and lens less than one month before you bring a new life into the world seemed a little crazy, but it was well worth it.
So there I am in the delivery room, with my wife and our newborn son, and a smartphone in my pocket and the 5DMKII on my shoulder. In addition to shooting in full-frame glory, you really can’t help but whip out the cellphone and take a quick snapshot to immediately share with your friends and family.
From there, it continued. Snapping photos and sending updates to the growing list of fans our new son had. By the 3rd day, it dawned on me to keep this going for an entire year. And now, 200+ photos later, we’re showing family members (and his future girlfriends, I might add) slideshows an our big screen television of how fast our boy has grown in just 7 months.
When I say this announcement was long overdue, I really meant it. This started in December and now it’s the beginning of July already. Well, the good news is we’re more than halfway to the end of our first year. 🙂
And while seven months doesn’t seem like a long time for someone that bought their first DSLR five years ago, I have to say we’ve gone through a lot in such a short period already, and our son has had his share of firsts as well. There are the expected firsts, like his first doctor’s visit or his first Xmas tree. But then we have our own twists, like his first trip to the hockey rink.
When you stop and think about how something like this is now possible, compared to when I was born *cough cough* years ago, it really puts things in perspective just a little. Then, fast forward passed those teenage years where he won’t admit these photos exist to when he’s even older and starting his own family. Having something like this for him to reflect on when he himself is experiencing parenthood for the first time? That’s sounds pretty special.
One also can only imagine what sites like Facebook and Flickr will be like in another 25 years to when those potential “grandpa” years might arrive. Hmmm. Let’s make it through potty training first. 😛
Where to Find The Photos
The last part of this project that was equally as important as taking these snapshots was making it easy to share them. Although these are all hosted on Flickr in the Daily Baby photoset, I wasn’t about to attempt to teach my grandmother 2,000 miles away how to find me on Flickr. So instead, I added the Daily Baby page right to our family’s blog itself. That’s easy enough to find.
In addition to living the digital life, we also came up with the idea of printing these photos and throwing them in an album as a keepsake of our son’s first year. Not only did we start our own running album, we also make prints for my mother and ship another set to my mother-in-law in Iowa. How cool is that, an automatic baby book of your grandson, day-by-day for the first year.
So there you have it. As becoming a father has motivated me to expand from shooting landscapes to practicing portraits and deciphering all new studio lighting gear, I can at least partake in the simple, less stressful joy of snapping an image of our own bundle of joy and knowing that what I’m capturing is something special, and way more important than how I’m capturing it or how well I’m capturing it.