The school year is ending and it always feels like a big page is turning. We’ve survived the endless round of rehearsals for end of year concerts and shows, books have been handed in, thank you presents have been given and the weight of routine and timetables is gently falling off our shoulders.
The rhythm of school holidays is always different to the rest of the year but never more so than in the summer. And, in particular, the mornings. So it seemed like a good time to do a little recap of my #before8h48 project.
I wrote a post at the beginning of the year which talked about why I am doing this project. I wanted to capture real life moments, little pieces of our mornings, details and instants that would otherwise become lost. I think we all photograph the big moments in life but it is the little, ordinary, every day moments that I wanted to capture with this project.
As I began the project I had several themes that I wanted to include. I’ve done a lot of personal projects and through trial and error have realised that planning and anticipation is key to success. Taking a photo a day can be daunting without some kind of plan. Taking a photo before 8h48 every day I knew was going to be even more difficult.
So I planned. I wrote out themes I wanted to include, techniques and topics I wanted to work on, lenses I wanted to use, items I wanted to photograph and moments I knew already I wanted to capture.
In addition I talked endlessly with Caroline, my project partner. Caroline is doing a 365 project documenting her every day life and whilst my project was going to concentrate just on mornings we had a lot of themes in common. We exchanged ideas, shared tips on motivation and supported each other. I can honestly say that capturing my mornings during the last five and a half months has been a lot easier with Caroline (virtually) by my side.
Caroline talked about her project last week, breaking it down into mini topics.
Today I’m also going to talk about some of the themes that were either planned from the start for my project 8h48 or have developed as the project progressed.
I wanted the project to show the passage of time. Not only by reference to how much my children grow or how many more lines I have on my face (!) but by including details of the seasons. The beauty of nature, the changing skies, the weather, the light, the sticks that grow buds, then flowers, then fruit…. the views from our windows, the surrounding countryside. It could all be a project in itself but it is also part of our mornings, what we see, what is around us.
I also wanted to capture the beauty of the mundane. The things that are in front of us every day but that we cease to see because they are always there. Taking these photos has forced me to slow down and really look. There is nothing special about any of these images on their own but that is the point. That, plus the fact that, each photo records something that I know in a few years will no longer be part of my mornings. Today’s ordinary which will become tomorrow’s memory.
Windows were another theme that I wanted to work on. I think everyone is drawn to windows - we look out of them, or in through them. They provide our light, our view, our frame. They also diffuse and reflect (especially in the dark mornings of January and February!) and give an outsider aspect to the photos which creates the feeling that someone is looking in on our mornings.
Last year I worked on planned, posed and stylised self portraits. That was mainly to practice taking portraits, to push myself creatively and to have a bit of fun. But I realised that they were the only photos of me that existed from last year. This year I wanted the pictures of myself to be more documentary, more real and so I decided to integrate self portraits as part of the morning project. It’s not always easy to take a photo before 8h48 every day. It is even less easy to take a self portrait before that time. But with a bit of planning, the help of some mirrors and a body clock that wakes me early (!) this year I will be present in the family photo album!
I love taking portraits and so no personal project of mine is ever going to be without a portrait theme. Over the last 5 and a half months I have taken lots of portraits of my children in the mornings. Some candid, some to tell the story of their mornings or that moment, some to capture where they were and who they were with and others just to capture their faces on that day.
Out of all the portraits taken I have chosen these four which I think capture the essence of each of them during the mornings over the last few months.
Luca in the car on the way to an appointment, February.
Raphael just awake, April..
Evie at breakfast, May.
Liliya before her mock exams, April.
When I started this project I didn't know that one morning a week (most weeks) Luca and I would be leaving the house at 6.45. These mornings together, although often more than a little rushed, quickly became a mini project all of their own. As the pitch black mornings gave way to blue light that slowly over the weeks became more and more orange we lived, and recorded, these moments together.
THE THURSDAYS OF RAPHAEL
Another theme that wasn’t planned at the beginning of the year but was inspired by Caroline, is ‘The Thursdays of Raphael’. Caroline has time each Thursday with her youngest son and documents their time together in her 365 project. I actually have had time nearly every week day morning with just Raphael as the others all leave much earlier for school but during the summer holidays all that will change and so planning to document him every Thursday will ensure that these moments continue to be captured.
AND IT CONTINUES….
For the next couple of months the mornings will be less rushed. There will be no school bus, bags to pack or homework to find. There will be breakfasts outside, sunrises to watch, early morning swims, quiet moments and no doubt some chaotic moments too. And I will continue to capture it all. Every day. Before 8h48.