Years ago, when I took a life drawing class, the teacher asked our model to change poses every 15 seconds, then every 30 seconds, and then every minute. It's impossible to actually draw a person that fast. What it did is to force me to use broad strokes to capture contours and gestures. I could feel the exercise loosening the tethers to the creative part of my brain, forcing it to let go of fixed preconceptions and rigid ways of creating art.
Photography is a different beast because the camera is locked in by the physics of light. It captures the scene at which the maker points. So there are other techniques for loosening the creative part of a photographer's brain. One of them is the 365 project. Someone other than the photographer supplies the word of the day, and the photographer's challenge is to post a photo that depicts that word. No one judges the photo. There isn't a set approach required. The photographer can interpret the word in any way. The goals are two fold: unleash creativity and establish a daily work ethic. The amount of time put into the project must be small—as little as possible. One could be compulsive about the project, but that's not the idea. The idea is to operate similarly to the quick sketch of the life drawing student.
I signed up on January 1st with the Photographic Society of America's 365 Day Project (lots of organizations host them). The first word immediately stumped me—Crowd. Really? We are in a pandemic and I am supposed to come up with an image of the thing I am avoiding? But I did. Here are my first entries for the project. (Click an image to see a larger version.)
verb, fill (a space) almost completely, leaving little or no room for movement
The spices crowded together to get a good view of the cooking competition. Secretly, each hoped to be pulled from the stands and asked to help out.
noun, a coherent, typically large body of matter with no definite shape
noun, a large area covered chiefly with trees and undergrowth
noun, a covered shelter projecting in front of the entrance of a building
I Never Noticed This Before
And indeed I hadn't. When I went to the wood pile, I found the shed skin of a lizard. Then I did some jazzy post processing to make it look alien.
noun, a sweet, sticky yellowish-brown fluid made by bees and other insects from nectar collected from flowers
In this case, I opted for an image of the honey-maker, one of many varieties of native bees flying around my property.