a peek inside the fishbowl

01 Mar, 2010


Posted by andrea tomkins in: Photography

“I have a photo project,” she said.
“What kind of photo project?” asked the other.
“One photo every day.”
She snorted. “Yeah, like THAT’S never been done before.”
“I know it’s been done before, but I don’t care. This is my own thing.”
“TRA LA LA. Bor-ing. How is this different from the other million photo-a-day projects out there?”
“Well, first of all, I’m taking the photos with my iPhone.”
“And I’m using a polaroid filter on each one to give it a dreamy retro kind of look. I love the irony, the instant digital photo posing as the instant polaroid of years gone by … ”
“AND I’m going to take one photo every day for as long as I can.”
“Well good luck, I guess.”
“What do you mean I GUESS?”
“Your project is going to fail because (a) you are going to lose interest and (b) it’s not going to stand out. You haven’t told me what makes this project unique.”
“Yes! You need to get noticed.”
“I don’t need to get noticed.”
“So why bother?”
“Why? This is just for me. I am doing this for myself.”
“So why brag about it?”
“I’m not bragging!”
“Oh yes you are. LOOKIT ME LOOKIT ME AND NOW CREE_AY_TIV I am! If this was only for YOU you wouldn’t tell anyone. You’d keep it in a drawer and leave it at that.”
“Haven’t you heard the expression, dance as if no one is watching? Well, I’m dancing. Besides, there’s a difference between sharing with friends and BRAGGING. I am pretty sure there’s a handful of people out there who might be interested. What’s wrong with telling them about it?”
“What’s wrong? Well, once people start following your progress it will change everything. You will approach your photos differently, more carefully, and it will change your outcome. Awareness taints. It won’t be pure because it will stop being about you, it will become about satisfying your audience. For example, what if you knew someone was looking through your photos and was aiming to give you a book deal? You would alter your output. Admit it, YOU ARE DOING THIS FOR A BOOK DEAL.”
“To be honest this could never be a published piece, the photos aren’t exactly high-res and -”
“Oh stop avoiding the question.”
“I’m not avoiding the question. If I thought this was going to wind up one someone’s coffee table it would be different, you’re right. And I like it the way it is, no pressure. Think about the difference between a blog post and a published piece. The blog posts pour out of me and are largely unedited. But I put a lot more time and energy into work I’m hired to do. These daily photos are blog posts, not fine-tuned pieces destined for other purposes.”
“Alright already. Gawd. You do tend to go on about things. So it’s one photo a day?”
“Yes, well, no. It’s more than just a photo. Each one is somehow meaningful. Each has some kind of significance. Each one is a moment in time, captured in this format along with a short caption.”
“If this is about the image, why are you making more work for yourself with captions?”
“I thought about it and I realized my photos lose meaning very quickly if there is no text attached to them. Have you ever found a photo but can’t identify the people in it? That’s why I’m adding captions. This is a visual diary of sorts, but it only logs a single moment or thought or experience each day. It’s an autobiography with a whole lot of pages torn out.”
“Alright then smartypants, it’s your own thing, and you’re dancing, and you don’t care yadda yadda. Let’s just get started.”
I already have.”

12 Responses to "photogeekery"

1 | Dave

March 1st, 2010 at 1:41 pm


Does Mark know you talk to yourself?

2 | andrea

March 1st, 2010 at 1:47 pm


I never talk to myself!!

3 | Lynn

March 1st, 2010 at 1:51 pm


I really like this idea. Your photos are lovely! I think you really should turn them into a desk calendar.

On a mostly unrelated note, do you have a “pro” flickr account? I store all the photos that I use for my blog on my flickr account, but I’m nearing the 200 photo limit for a free account. I was pretty resigned to getting a paid/pro account, but it seems that converting to pro will move all my photos — meaning all my old posts will lose their URL reference, maybe? So anyway, I’m looking for new options.

4 | andrea

March 1st, 2010 at 1:59 pm


Thank you Lynn!
I do have a pro Flickr account. I’ve had it for a few years now. I didn’t realize the URLs would change if you upgraded… are you sure?? That seems crazy!

If there was a small code segment that changed when you updated maybe you could do a find and replace on that snippet somehow?

5 | Littlehouse

March 1st, 2010 at 9:00 pm


I’ve actually been stalking you on flickr for a while. Is that creepy? ;)
I can assure you, however, that there is no hidden agenda (not even a book deal. Sorry)
I’m doing a 365 too, and I like the local company in the big flickr universe…..:)

6 | Littlehouse

March 1st, 2010 at 9:02 pm


Oh, and let the geekery abound!

7 | Mike Levin

March 2nd, 2010 at 9:56 am



Do you what you’ve done? You’ve actually done a colloquial, sort-of geeky, sort-of- sistery version of Kpling’s “If”. If you did this by accident, my hat’s off to you. If you did it on purpose, my head’s off. Really enjoyed it.

8 | Marla

March 2nd, 2010 at 11:18 am


I have been thinking about it for a day now, and like how you specified “my” (your) photos lose meaning without captions, and how the explanations are what make it autobiographical – like an illustrated sentence-a-day diary. That’s lovely, personal and complete.

While I adore beautiful images that are complete on their own, I’m also very nosey. I think you’ve got a great balance with this, and have made it truly unique.

That’s the beauty of vernacular photography – it has meaning mostly to the original owner, and only to the outside observer as an afterthought, not by intention or designation.

9 | DaniGirl

March 2nd, 2010 at 1:16 pm


Yay, you finally outed yourself!!

I’m partial to yearly photo projects, what can I say? I do think you’ve hit something unique but more importantly, you’re doing it for you — everyone else is just lucky to be along for the ride.

I bookmarked this last year and keep meaning to start using it — would be perfect for your project-in-progress, methinks. http://shuttercal.com/

10 | DaniGirl

March 2nd, 2010 at 1:18 pm


Oh, and PS to Lynn — the URLs will not change when you go pro. Nothing will. I just upgraded our work account, and the only thing that changed was the added functionality and space. Make the jump, Lynn, your photos are worth it!!

11 | andrea

March 4th, 2010 at 9:20 am


Mike: It is all entirely by accident!

Dani: I figured it was about time. And WOW – ShutterCal looks interesting. I’ll have to keep that in mind. Thanks for flipping the link!

Thanks for your supportive comments everyone! For the most part I will not be posting the photos smack dab into the blog here. You’ll have to keep tabs on my Flickr feed. Thank you for following along!

12 | RubyW

May 6th, 2011 at 12:37 am


Hi Andrea! I agree, the photo-a-day idea isn’t anything new but really – what is? It’s the personal expression behind people’s work that makes things unique. Anyway, I stumbled upon your site via Hannah Sung’s article about breastfeeding pics :P

I agree with Lynn though – it would be a good idea to turn your pics into a calendar, or even photobook of some sort. I work for a company called Kinzin and we offer people the opportunity to turn their photos into a photobooks. Yes, you can even write captions! Or what I’ve seen before is some people block off an entire quarter of a page for text. That might work for you too since you’re a writer.

Anyway, thought you might be interested: http://www.kinzin.com

And please keep up the great work – love your early Easter Sunday kitchen shots!

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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