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  • 60 with 60 Recap: What I’ve Learned from My Photo Challenge

    calla lily

    I’m happy to report that I have successfully completed my self-imposed 60 with 60 photography challenge.  In this challenge, I aimed to post 60 photos using a 60mm prime lens. My hope was that by imposing limitations on my gear, and by having a numerical goal, I would tap into a new vein of creativity (i.e., get out of a creative rut) and perhaps get to know that particular lens better.

    Specifics:  Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8 micro lens mounted on a Nikon D7000 body

    Time:  September 8-September 25 (18 days total)

    Results: The main purpose of the challenge was self-discovery.  However, I did manage to capture some images that I am proud of (as well as some that are admittedly so-so). You can see the whole collection of 60 images by clicking on the image, below:

    60 with 60

     

    There were pluses and minuses to this challenge.  On the positive side, using one lens made shooting simple.  I could just grab my camera and go, without needing to ponder which lens to bring.

    Secondly, using a single prime lens ensured that I needed to have active footwork.  I had to physically walk to and from a subject to get the correct composition, rather than letting a zoom lens do all the heavy lifting.

    Thirdly, by taking the lens decision out of the equation, I was free to focus more on lighting and composition.  I was able to be more thoughtful in my approach.

    And, finally, I did learn a lot about this particular lens. While it is fairly fast (f/2.8), it is not as fast as the 50mm (f/1.4) and I missed some shots due to low light.  Also, it is a fairly large lens, and the camera/lens combo was not easily tossed into my handbag. For an everyday lens, I would prefer something smaller and lighter (again, noting the 50 mm f/1.4).

    There where were additional downsides to this challenge as well:

    First of all, I grew weary of this lens!  I thrive on variety, and limiting myself to one lens proved to be far more challenging (and I might even say, annoying) than I could have anticipated.

    And the number: Sixty!  S-I-X-T-Y is a LOT of images.  When I first came up with the idea of 60 with 60, I confess that I was more enamored of the catchy name for the challenge and less concerned with the actual number. I’ve never participated in a challenge, self-imposed or otherwise, with such a large number of images, and I learned my lesson from this.

    Finally, it was frustrating to be prevented from using the best lens for the job.  For instance, while this lens is touted as a macro lens, and it does a fair enough job at close-ups, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 105mm for sharpness and detail. When taking photos of flowers, I had to resist my perfectionistic streak and use the camera at hand. Knowing I could have achieved a better image with a different lens was a challenge in itself.

    Having said that, challenges by their very nature are opportunities for growth.  They force us out of our comfort zone and encourage to try new things and to be innovative and creative.  I am glad I did this challenge because it helped me stay focused on a theme and it made me shoot images nearly every day. I am already looking forward to my next challenge.

    I’d love to hear about your photographic self-challenges. Are there any you would like to share?  Or do you have any suggestions for me to try?  I welcome your thoughts and insights.

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  • The Black Dress Challenge Wrap-up

    Black Dress ChallengeRecap: I recently completed The Black Dress Challenge, in which I wore the same black dress every day for 31 days. While the dress remained constant, I rotated shoes and accessories throughout the month.

    Assessment: As I look back on the Challenge, I am struck by 3 things:

    • How easy it was.
    • How much I enjoyed it.
    • How sorry I was to see it end.

    I came to love my little uniform and the ease with which I could get dressed and get on with my day. The funny thing is, unless I mentioned it, not one single person commented on the fact that I was wearing the same dress every day. I’m not sure if this was because they did not notice, or because they did not want to hurt my feelings by pointing out an obvious sartorial faux pas. I really think it was the former.

    I also came to appreciate that limiting my clothing to one outfit is a luxury and a choice, while for for many people it is the only option. I developed a great sense of gratitude for being able to choose to participate in this self-created challenge and for being able to select from a variety of tops and accessories each day.

    And, finally, my shopping expenditures dropped significantly during this month. The old saying, “shop in your own closet first” really came home to roost, and I can say that my desire for new clothing has greatly diminished. Score another one for minimalism and sustainability!

    Goals: My main reason for attempting this challenge was to simplify my life. I also hoped to increase my creativity, become more comfortable on the other side of the camera, embrace vegan fashion, and donate to a worthy cause.

    Did I reach my goals? For the most part, yes. Below, I’ve rated my success on a scale of 1 (total dud) to 5 (total success).

    1. This black dress greatly simplified my life. It was comfortable, versatile, and adaptable enough to wear in sunny Los Angeles, temperate Oregon, and chilly Washington, D.C. It made packing for trips an absolute breeze. In fact, I was able to travel for a 4-day, cross-country trip with only a small carry-on bag and personal item. And, as I posted here, air travel while wearing leggings is a very comfortable, practical choice. Score: 5
    2. I was able to express some creativity in accessorizing. At times while staring in my closet, I drew a total blank. But knowing I would be taking a photo forced me to put together an ensemble that was both appealing and appropriate for the activities of the day. Wearing a different top every day of the month was slightly unrealistic, however, in that I typically wear the same selection of tops several times in any given month. In retrospect, it would have been more challenging to limit my shoes and tops as well. Next time… Score: 3
    3. I became slightly more comfortable on the other side of the camera. While I have done limited runway modeling, my photographic modeling experience is next to nothing. So, this was by far the most difficult part of the challenge for me. I would say I got used to the camera, but comfortable, well, only slightly more. Score: 3
    4. I am happy to say that I did not wear any animal products (wool, silk, leather) during the challenge.  I have found vegan fashion very easy to embrace. There are so many natural fiber and synthetic fiber options available today that it makes vegan dressing both simple and sustainable.  Score: 5
    5. I donated money to one of my favorite charitable causes: Global Vision 2020. This terrific organization brings self-adjustable eyeglasses to people in the developing world. I love the elegant simplicity of these eyeglasses and I am a huge fan. Score: 4

    Future: Where do I go from here? Well, much as my black dress was suitable in so many ways, it was a little long for my taste. Therefore, I am meeting with a fashion-whiz friend later this week to design a shorter version of the same dress. I will try it in black fabric first, and, if it works well, perhaps make it in a few other colors, too. Who knows, we may have a small fashion line in our future! But I’m getting way ahead of myself 🙂

    In closing, I want to thank Courtney at Be More with Less for creating the Project 333 and Meg at Minimalist Woman for bringing it to my attention. I look forward to hearing other people’s experiences with their minimalist fashion challenges. If you have any questions or comments about The Black Dress Challenge, I’d love to hear from you in the  comments below.

    Also, if you’d like to see photos of all 31 outfits for the month, you can visit The Black Dress Challenge.

    image: Day 31 of the Black Dress Challenge. © 2010. Christianna Pierce.

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  • The Black Dress Challenge is On!

    Day 7Hi, you may remember my post about The Black Dress Challenge. Loosely based on Courtney Carver’s Project 333, The Black Dress Challenge is my attempt to simplify my life by wearing the same washable black dress every day for a month.

    I want to let you know that the challenge is on! I’d love to know if you are participating in a minimalist fashion challenge this month.  Please let me know in a comment, below.  If you are doing a challenge, I wish you great success!

    And if The Black Dress Challenge sparks your interest, please share this post with your tribe.  Thank you!

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  • The Black Dress Challenge

    Black Dress Icon

    1 black dress, 31 days, go!

    I love a challenge and I love fashion. I also embrace minimalism.  And veganism. And philanthropy.  How, I thought, can I combine all these interests into one compelling project?

    Inspiration came from one of our dear readers, Meg, of Minimalist Woman. She happened to mention that she will be participating in Courtney Carver’s inspired Project 333: to wear 33 items for 3 months.

    Love it! But I wanted something even more focused, both in content and duration. After some contemplation, some assessment of my closet contents, and a flash of insight, Eureka!

    The Black Dress Challenge was born.

    What:

    I will wear the same little black (washable) dress every day for a month.

    I will be donning a dress I bought a couple of years ago. It is a comfy-yet-stylish and is made of an easy-care cotton/lycra blend. I’ll accessorize with things I already own and will not buy any clothing or fashion items for the entire month.

    When:

    October 1-31, 2010

    I’ve chosen the month of October because it is a fairly temperate month in my part of the world, making the wearing of a dress somewhat more feasible. It is also book-ended by World Vegetarian Day (October 1) and World Vegan Day (November 1), which provide a nice framework for the vegan aspect.

    Why:

    1. To simplify my life
    2. To express creativity
    3. To get over my camera-shyness (I’ll be posting daily pics on a designated, soon-to-be-announced blog)
    4. To embrace vegan fashion
    5. And to contribute to a good cause (by donating the money I would have spent on clothes for the month).

    Who:

    While I’m undertaking this as a personal challenge, I’d love to know if you would care to join me or participate in your own version of the Black Dress Challenge. Please let me know in the comments below.

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