Visual Exercise | 10 Things I Saw Today

Exercise: Starting today, begin shooting at least 10 photographs a day.

I am always surprised by how many people seem initially overwhelmed by this. If you are inclined to panic, don’t. It may seem intimidating, even insurmountable at first. But that generally goes away pretty quickly. It will probably start to feel habitual before long. Be careful, for many people this activity becomes addictive, which honestly is what I am hoping will happen for you.

Your smart phone is a perfect tool for this work. Carry it with you, keep it handy. Don’t fret over making perfect pictures, or overthink this too much. Don’t be afraid to press the shutter. Just shoot. The point, at this point, is to simply begin capturing those things in your everyday life that you are seeing and noticing, the stuff from the everyday world that triggers your interest and curiosity. And to make this feel increasingly natural and effortless.

For now, keep everything. Don’t cull or edit, at least not yet. This is an important stage in the creative process. Experienced creatives understand that, in the beginning, it is important to inscribe and capture every thought, no matter how fleeting, insignificant, unimportant, or silly it might seem. Creativity requires a degree of excess; a lot of hunting and gathering, collecting and archiving — without judging or censoring. So silence the voice of your inner critic. Editing will come later. Although it may seem excessive to you now, embrace this and respect it, because its one of the most powerful but least obvious ways to develop your personal vision. You can trash things later, but right now your process should be only additive.

There are a million different ways to accomplish the nuts and bolts of this work. There are multiple social networking apps and cloud storage services that give users the option of uploading smart phone pictures automatically. Users can publish their pictures for all the world to see, or control access to only a select few, or archive their work in complete privacy. Others may want to avoid the whole network scene and simply transfer and archive their images to a laptop.

But remember, I am asking you to take at least 10 photographs every day. This means that you will very quickly need to manage an expanding visual journal archive. After only 10 days, you should have accumulated a minimum of 100 pictures. In just a month, you will have over 300 images. By six months, I am expecting that you will have gathered about 2,000 captured moments.

So yes, this is a lot of content and a sizable number of artifacts from your personal life. You need to be a little bit strategic and methodical. Do you want to subscribe to a cloud storage service, or buy an external hard drive, or at least create a new folder on our computer where all your work is centrally located? Do you want to archive your pictures by month? Would it be helpful to purchase software that helps you keep all this stuff organized? Again, these are personal decisions and every reader will have different preferences.