Video is quickly becoming the the next greatest thing when it comes to documenting family life. Today's post is a special essay from Whitney Rowland, a fellow documentary photographer in Northern Virginia. When I met her around this time last year, she enthusiastically told me about her One Second Every Day (1SE) project, where she committed to documenting one second of her life for 365 days. When I saw the resulting compilation of her project later, I knew I'd ask her to share her experience and tips for others interested in preserving their everyday in a new way. A way that conveys the beautiful simplicity in life and elevates the mundane into meaningful.
First, a bit about Whitney, in her own words:
I’m a Northern Virginia dweller who satisfies my wanderlust by eating delicious foreign foods whenever possible. I’m a teacher, yogi wannabe, and fan of stand-up comedy. I sometimes get fancy and use a Canon DSLR or Fuji mirrorless to photograph my life but most of the time you can find me playing with my iPhone and sharing bits and pieces on Instagram.
And now, all about 1SE.
Hello readers! I am excited to be Nicole’s guest blogger today– especially because I am going to share with you all something I feel really passionate about: DOCUMENTING THE EVERYDAY! Oh, and wait… not just documenting but how to make preserving memories EASY. I mean, really really easy.
Sometimes it can feel like we spend just as much time documenting our life as we do actually living it. Between filters, cropping, and uploading our photos – it can become a chore. Most of us lead full and hectic lives that don’t leave a lot of room for capturing the everyday.
After my failed attempt at a 365 project (where I challenged myself to take a single photo every day for an entire year) I realized I needed a better way to document. Before owning an iPhone, I seemed to only capture photos of trips and holidays but I wanted more than a highlight reel - I craved an accurate representation of my life as a whole.
I wish I could look back and see times in my life such as my first year of marriage: hanging out together in our high rise apartment’s laundry room waiting for clothes to dry, ordering take out from our favorite Thai restaurant, celebrating weekends with our friends at bars in DC – the seemingly trivial parts of our life that were actually what the majority of our days were filled with. I’ve learned that no matter what phase, you will never get that time of your life back. Every day is significant and all moments matter. Each year is filled with changes and growth and it all happens so fast!
In 2016, I decided to start a new 365 project. I read an article about an app called One Second Everyday and it sounded like a fun project that would be little work on my end. I would be taking a video every day – which sounded much easier than a photo! No time wasted trying to make an interesting composition, capturing a perfect moment, or editing. I was also intrigued by the idea of showing movement.
The app looks like a calendar and lets you pull up your videos for each day. You choose which video you want, drag your finger to pick a single second, and just drop it in the calendar to save it to your project. The app keeps track of the date and organizes it – making it think-free. You just have to remember to grab a video each day – and the app even has a reminder feature to help with that too!
The project takes minor dedication… seriously, you brush your teeth more often in a day than you need to whip out your phone and grab a video (and let’s be honest: you are using your phone more than twice a day anyway! Oh, and feel free to film yourself brushing your teeth if you forgot a video that day).
My tips for a successful 365 project:
Start taking videos now. I started mine on January 1st but that doesn’t mean you need to! It is ALWAYS a good time to start documenting! If you absolutely need a distinct beginning and end to quell your OCD tendencies, try doing monthly projects that summarize a single month or make a project that starts on a special day such as your birthday or anniversary. But seriously. Just start now. You will not regret it!
Pick a way to hold your phone while filming and stick with it. I choose horizontal because that is how our eyes see the world and it’s the way TV and computer screens are positioned. It also shows more environment in your footage. You can pick what you want - just don’t mix vertical and horizontal or else your video will look a little wonky.
Mash your clips and watch your progress every so often. It will keep you motivated! I remember watching my January video and it gave me the enthusiasm to continue with the project!
Don’t be shy about pulling out your phone. Just grab some video and get over it. Maybe someone will wonder why you are taking a video of your husband picking out paint at Home Depot but who cares.
Go easy on yourself. You missed a day? So what. I missed a bunch of days in my 2016 and have probably missed even more in 2017. Try to get as many videos as you can and it will be awesome.
Update your calendar every few weeks. You could do this every day if you want. I definitely don’t. In fact, I like to go a week or two because then I can make sure I have a good variety and not too many of the same thing.
Try new perspectives. In a single video, you can try a variety of angles and then pick the one you like the best. Play around and have some different viewpoints across your videos – especially if you find yourself filming in the same places or the same things often. If your videos for a week are strictly of your 2 year old at the playground, try putting the phone on the ground and getting a view of from under the swing as you push him or just his feet as they come down the slide.
Delete what you don’t need or want. Once you select your chosen second for the app, you can safely dispose of the video from your camera roll. Unless it’s a really meaningful video, don’t let it clutter your phone and take up precious space!
A lot of 1SE users have talked about the benefit of self-reflection with this project and that was something I didn’t expect when I started. Not only are you keeping memories alive, you have the opportunity to reflect on what you have experienced. I am physically able to see the things in life that mean the most to me and how they shape me as a person. Also, it’s just plain fun to watch and share with those you love. I can’t wait to show my son what our life looked like the year we found out he would make us a family!
I hope that you are inspired to use 1SE!
I hope you found Whitney's words as inspiring as I did. Share your tips for 365 projects in the comments. And if you're in need of additional 365 inspiration, check out my photo-a-day 365 tutorial.