Practicing Mindfulness Through a 365 Project | January

In 2016 I completed a 365 project (taking one photo a day for a whole year) and ALSO a "one second a day" project - culminating in a film documenting our entire year in 365 seconds. It was enormously satisfying to finish both of these projects, but they were also a lot of work, and by the year's end I was ready for a break.

2017 began and I abandoned taking a photo or a video clip everyday. Don't get me wrong, I still pulled my camera out quite often, but not on a daily basis as I had the year before. Sometimes weeks would go by with only a few images on my camera roll. And I am sad to say that I made very few personal films of my family last year.

2017 also got off on a difficult start - my kids were sick a lot that winter, and the state of the country was scary and depressing. I began experiencing quite a bit of anxiety. I also really began to miss my 365 project.

What I didn't realize until I stopped the daily practice of taking a photo, was how good it is for me - and not just the photographer in me, but the "me" as a person. Pausing for that moment during the day and taking in my surroundings... it forces me to slow down and be present. For that moment I don't worry about the future or dwell on the past...I sit in that present moment and appreciate it. I find the beauty in it.

In addition to that mindful pause, the practice also gives me perspective. Being able to look back over a month's worth of photos, or a season's, or the whole year - it shows me that even though the challenges throughout the year may stick out in my mind, that actually on most days we have it pretty darn good. Life has its ups and downs, but when I step back and look at it as a whole  - I am blessed.

So this year I knew I needed this daily mindful practice back in my life again. I kicked off a new 365 project on January 1st. Some days it is really hard to find the inspiration to take a photo, but I do it anyway. I know I will be thankful later. One of my favorite things to do this winter when I have found myself in a funk, feeling like spring will never come, is to look back over the photo albums I have of previous years - where I can really see that winter does not indeed last forever! It is truly comforting. 

I also am participating in "Make Films: 12", a year long class with Xanthe Berkeley, where we make a film every month. In January I edited two films with a backlog of footage from last year - one from the summer of 2017 and one from apple picking in the fall. This month I am filming every day to document our February. It feels good to be creating again on a regular basis and I am loving the community of family filmmakers who are also taking the class.

Here is a look at our January in a photo a day:


If you are looking for inspiration for your own 365 project, I wrote a post here about staying motivated while taking that photo everyday.

Francesca Russell is a documentary-style family photographer and filmmaker located in Garden City South, NY. If you'd like to see more of her recent documentary family photography, head over to her Facebook page or follow her everyday adventures on Instagram. If you are looking for a family photographer or lifestyle videographer on Long Island or in the New York City area to document your family, small business or event, please contact her for more information.