Amy Straka Photography // Ten on Ten // Collaborative Blog Project
A few months ago, I received an email from a fellow photographer in Portland, Oregon. She invited me to join a collaborative blog project called “Ten on Ten” and includes photographers around the United States. She described the project as such, “Everyone participating in the project posts 10 photos on the 10th of each month from one day in their life that past month. The photos should give an insight into your own personal life (i.e. beach with the kids, out on the town, etc.). At the beginning of each post, there is a link to all the other photographers’ post encouraging people to follow the loop. Does that all make any sense? I noticed from looking at your blog, that most of your posts are posting photos of client shoots. Would you be open to adding a personal monthly post?”
I replied instantly, yes.
I was immediately intrigued by the concept that, nearly all of my days and nights are devoted to creative work in an industry most intently focused on the proverbially expressed “most important day” in the lives of others. I was enchanted to find ten tiny moments of the day that paused the urgency and breakneck pace that drives all of my days. My mind and heart have always run wild with the simple and beautiful imagery of everyday life, just not usually my life. Every long, dusty road I drive along. Each time my bare feet nestle into the hot sand. The peeling red paint of the wooden door through which I passed on the way to a thousand lunches. That rare and brief moment that the sun peeks through a certain grove of trees I pass daily. Color and texture surround me, but each beautiful detail I notice is suspended in the subjunctive somehow. “My second wedding next weekend isn’t far from here.” I write down the cross streets. “I should return in the autumn, these little stretch of road would be undoubtedly beautiful when the foliage begins to turn.” I run my through my calendar, imagine this family or that couple, holding hands and disappearing together into the horizon. “I could shoot here.” Each pretty moment, archived for utility.
But these images would be mine.
As soon as the excitement built for the concept, it was quickly eclipsed by the urgency of work. As the post office line drew in zig-zags around the little velvet ropes, my thoughts would wander briefly toward the project. The tiny, ornate vintage mailboxes, tarnished and brassy in perfectly straight lines. Morning sun casting parallelogram shadows through the tall glass windows, silhouetting the bustle of the street outside in a little parade across the carpet. My camera was tucked away, lens and body neatly separated into the soft compartments on the inside of my camera bag. In my locked trunk. Parked fifty pretty details and moments away from the unexpected beautiful place that I spent my unexpected idle time.
I laid on my back on the floor of my studio, staring up into the empty ceiling, wires hanging through subtly faded paint outlines where big old flourescent lights hung yesterday. I tried to imagine where each new light fixture should be placed, pointing which direction to highlight which picture shelf, with what print. I tried to imagine by the time the electrician arrived. Two phone consultations later, my eyes were lost in color correction late into the night. The sun began to rise as I rested on the stoop outside my door. As my dogs circled the yard, I committed to the only task that stood between my million hour day and my soft, cool pillow. As I sifted through my inbox, making a thoughtful, yet labored attempt at heartfelt replies to each bride or planner or grandmother or husband, I was startled alert. A “Ten on Ten Reminder” email, flourishing with reply-to-alls, stared back from my inbox. Weeks and weeks fly by, barely a day or two devoted even partially to myself, and certainly I never bothered to photograph any of it.
So my day that I have chosen to share, so much like any workday, wasn’t exactly. This summer day, I left my desk and my phone behind, something I rarely do in the wild overlap of wedding season and beach vacation season, to celebrate the marriage of two of my best friends, Emily and Jonny. A million summer Saturdays have started before sunrise, counting each battery and lens ten times, stacking itineraries and maps and all the tiny notes of all the perfect trees and cross streets near the brightest-colored doors and every gorgeous rolling hill steeped in sunset pink and every gorgeous moment of my everyday life I have been saving just for this. Something done a million times. This sunrise I crawled from my bed and did something I have never done. I was honored to experience this wedding as a day-long intimate participant, rather than a practiced and dutiful observer. As a bridesmaid.
Prior to the arrival of the ultra-talented Thierry Lyles Photography and Stephanie Wallace Photography, who did an incredibly gorgeous job of catching the details and moments of the day in exactly the way I hope to each and every time I pack my bag, I committed to photograph the getting ready process after my bright-and-early 7:30am makeup and hair appointment.
It meant the world to stand beside her so differently this time, to do all the things she and I document, weekend after weekend. And we did them all so well. Next month, I plan to share more simple and gorgeous imagery that are as personal and dear as this set of photographs. I do, however, promise they will be distant from the wedding photography that consumes my nearly every thought and moment. Next month, I plan to save a perfect set of aged rippled glass windows, reflecting the big and blue cloudy sky. Storm clouds rolling over the dunes bringing a balance of powerful natural beauty and impending danger. A slightly melting, but boldly gorgeous, blueberry ice cream cone. Next month, I plan to save all the pretty and subtle details of my daily life, for myself.
This personal blog entry is part of the Ten on Ten Collaborative Blog Project. On the tenth of each month, noted photographers from around the United States share ten personal images in their blog, along with links to all of the participant photographers who have done the same. Here are the photographers who have chosen to share a little personal vignette this month: