a peek inside the fishbowl

03 Apr, 2017

The ends of things

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

I was at the office the other day when someone asked me about my Daily Lunches project. I found myself babbling, trying to explain its end and I realized I haven’t thought or written anything about it.

In June 2012 I started taking photos of my lunch every day, no matter what. I took photos at home, at work, at conferences, on holiday, in meetings, with friends and family, in restaurants, at hot dog stands, parking lots, you name it.

Some photos were pretty, and some were not. Some meals were yummy, and some were not. Some had recipes attached to them; many were just things I threw together. But they all meant something.

Although some people probably saw this project as proof of modern narcissism or a project that is too boring to contemplate, I saw it as an art project that I lived every day. I didn’t, however, pretend that this was some high-level, magazine-worthy food photography. It was what it was… just plain real. My goal was to show a tiny sliver of a person’s life, of my life, and I think I did that. I look at the collection of photos now and I wonder what they reveal about me.

What does people’s choice of food reveal about themselves?  This was something I touched upon in original post on the topic, but it touched a nerve for some. No one likes to be judged, that’s for sure, but honestly, I think if you ate ravioli out of a can for lunch every day there has to be a reason behind it. It may not be fair to guess what it is, but there has to be one. Right?

Related to this: I love to look at photo essays of what people eat around the world, don’t you? Here’s one from Time magazine. What do those photos say about the people who eat those meals? Is it fair to draw some conclusions?

I quit my Daily Lunches project on December 31, 2016. I was having a low moment – and it’s hard to be creative during times like those – and I just realized it’s done. I was done.

Strangely, I miss my daily lunches. I can’t pinpoint exactly why. I looked at the collection while I was writing this and realized I’d documented a lot of stuff there, beyond the bare bones of what I ate for lunch that day: what I was doing, where I went, who was with me, what I like to eat. Maybe it’s only relevant to me, though. I am ok with that.

April 17 #dailylunches #286 - In your view should BLT bread be toasted? Discuss.

February 5 #dailylunches

October 25 #dailylunches

August 28 #dailylunches

June 17 #dailylunches

May 25 #dailylunches at the Clocktower in Westboro

July 29 #dailylunches #400 (!) - corn dog on the road

I am feeling a bit down the end of this project at the moment. I suppose this up/down/done cycle is a lot like what I went through with Artist Trading Cards. I was crazy about making and trading them for years… until I wasn’t. I once tried forcing a return, but it felt wrong. I missed making those tiny little pieces of art, planning them, trading them, waiting for the mailman to come. That period was incredibly creative, satisfying, and fun. I felt RICH. My cup overfloweth. But, but, but, it couldn’t last. I have learned that it’s ok when creative projects come to their natural end. But it still makes me feel lonesome, even abandoned, in a way. You know what I mean? It’s as if someone closed a window in front of me and said: Sorry, you can’t look out that window anymore. Your time here, with this view, is over. There is a sense of sadness and yearning. I want to look out that window! I will miss the view! What I need to do, obviously, is find a new window. The question is, what will I see when I find it?

5 Responses to "The ends of things"

1 | Claudette

April 4th, 2017 at 10:02 am


If the urge hits to take a photo of a particular lunch you’re eating that day, what stops you from taking it? Or posting it? Or talking about it?

Maybe the daily thing is over, but knowing a little about you when it comes to food, having seen your collection, I would say this project is not over. Not really. Maybe it’s just pausing, and then evolving. Perhaps you won’t take a photo every day, perhaps you won’t post every lunch, but perhaps one day you will see something, a trend, an inspiration, and suddenly a month will go by and you’ll find you posted several lunches on social media without even planning to do so. Just because!

Either way, we gotta eat lunch every day, right? I for one would love to see some of your food pictures again. :)

2 | andrea tomkins

April 4th, 2017 at 10:22 am


I am still eating lunches, but the photo-taking and collecting aspect is gone now, and I don’t see it coming back in the same way. I will still post the occasional food photo, but only if it’s worth sharing (eg. a great recipe, food find, restaurant etc.)! Good food will always be a part of my life, online and offline! No doubt about that. :)

3 | Tatiana Dokuchic

April 4th, 2017 at 11:29 am


Congratulations on persuing this project as long as you did! There must be satisfaction in exploring this idea to its fullest over the years. I know I certainly enjoyed following along.

Your observations gave me a chance to reflect on my own creative cycles; how some projects are grand love affairs, full of passion and inspiration followed by an eventual/inevitable parting of ways.

During fallow periods the remembered joy is always a bit bittersweet thought the quiet can be soothing.

I’m sure that when you find your new window the view will be fantastic. I’m looking forward to hearing all about it when the time is right.

4 | Misty Pratt

April 4th, 2017 at 2:14 pm


I can relate to this…in my twenties I pursued singing/songwriting, and for a while I went into it big time (even recorded some stuff!) But life seemed to get in the way, and now my guitar sits unused in a corner. It makes me feel sad a lot of the time…but as you said, creative pursuits come and go, and I’ve had others take its place. I DO hope when life finally settles a bit after young kids that I will finally pull the guitar out and do some rockin campfires :)

Sorry for the end of your project, but wow, what a feat!!!

5 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive My sort-of-secret daily photo project is done - a peek inside the fishbowl

May 22nd, 2022 at 10:02 am


[…] June 2012 and April 2017 I took a photo of my lunch every day (post here, photo set […]

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The Obligatory Blurb

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 offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). 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, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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