When I started my 52-week Shoreham blog project back in January, it was a blank page, with no expectations - either from myself, or anyone else, and just a small core of readers from valued friends and family. Freshly enthusiastic after an autumn blogging workshop with a big-time wedding blogger (Kat, of Rock & Roll Bride fame, for those who are interested) my overriding goal was to launch and stick with my project, to push myself and my photography creatively without commercial pressure.
Now, more than a quarter of the way into the project, I am amazed at how much I have learnt from it, and how it is unexpectedly shaping my business. Through photographing for my blog, I myself am re-discovering Shoreham-by-Sea after living in the States for five years, and in so doing, have come to feel much more a part of the community than I did before leaving.
Just 'getting out there' with my camera has opened up the opportunity to meet new people that I might otherwise never have met. I have made new friendships and business contacts, which is generating both commercial work and the potential for entering competitions and exhibiting. One friend who has lived in Shoreham all her life told me that my photography had caused her to look at familiar places with different eyes. Another feels she has got to know me better through my blog, and looks forward to the link popping up on her facebook feed every week! And some of my photographer friends like the techie stuff, whilst others gloss over the text and look at the photos.
I love receiving feedback, and knowing that other people are taking something from it, whatever that might be, has really helped me to keep my enthusiasm high for the project, especially when the weather's poor and I feel like staying home.
One reason for my reflection on the project this week has been a recent surge in readership, probably as a result of blogging local events and those photos being shared through social media (well, facebook anyway - twitter's my next challenge....). It is slightly scary knowing that not all my readers know me personally, and my initial reaction was to question my writing style, that maybe it was too personal, and I should perhaps de-personalise it a bit to 'fit' a wider audience.
I spent some time thinking about this, until I realised that the original goal for the blog hadn't changed, and that those readers who have been with me from the beginning haven't changed. And anyway, if I didn't write in my own style, then it wouldn't really be my blog anymore, and whose style would I emulate anyway?
So, loyal readers, you're stuck with me, I'm afraid! Sometimes I'll share my photographic choices: in the image above, for example, I focused carefully on the branches in the foreground with a relatively shallow depth of field, to produce a more abstract, artistic photo. Sometimes I'll talk you though my photographic journey as I created the week's images. Sometimes I'll share information about the subjects of my photos - whether local artists or buildings. Some of my ramblings will appeal to only a few individuals; others to a wider audience. But that's OK.
The way I see it, if I enjoy photographing and writing my blog (which I do!), then someone will enjoy reading it. And anyway, I've still got another 36 weeks to go on this project, so I have to enjoy it, or that would seem like a really, really long time! So thank you for letting me share my reflections with you this week. The accompanying photos of the sun setting over Lancing College were taken from Mill Hill, which is a local nature reserve North of Shoreham, forming part of the South Downs National Park. And fittingly, a place where I like to walk and think, and clear my head surrounded by nature.
Keep those comments coming, and if you love a particular photo, please do tell me! I have to choose some prints for exhibition, and it's always good to get your thoughts...