A “6:50 p.m. Photo” Project Retropective

When I left for my secondment to the U.S. in May of 2012, I decided I wanted to try a little photography project. Every day, I would take a photo at 6:50 p.m. of whatever was around me at that time. This isn’t a new idea. I had first heard about it back when I was a LiveJournal user (so you know it was a long time ago!) and had actually done something similar on a 2007 backpacking trip around Japan (sadly, those photos seem to have gone missing). I wanted to keep this daily log of my life in the U.S. because I knew I wasn’t going to be very good at making daily blog posts.

I picked 6:50 p.m. as the designated time because I felt confident that I would be doing something interesting then. I would have finished any work for the day and would be exploring New York or whatever city I was in. I may just be eating dinner, but given how amazing the food scene is in New York, it was bound to be something interesting and memorable.

Well, I just spent the weekend cleaning up image links on this blog after reinstalling it (more on that in another blog post), so I ended up going through every 6:50 p.m. post I made. It was a little depressing to look at them, especially considering my assumption that I would be doing something “interesting” at that time. The main thing that struck me was that I was actually still in the office quite often, or commuting to or from work.

There were quite a few days without any logged photo too. I know that a few of them were because my phone battery had gone flat, but most were missing because I was on a plane and my phone was switched off.

Another recurring theme was just the view from my apartment or hotel room. I wasn’t out and about, I was lurking in my room. Even some pictures that look like I was out exploring were really just coincidentally taken on my walk home for the day. Now, I’m not worried about staying at home to get out of the heat or to exercise or to study Japanese, but I did still spend a large amount of time not doing any interesting.

It’s disappointing for me because before I arrived in New York, I had found a number of sites with lists of events happening each day. There were also friends to catch up with and food to try, so I’d have a choice of at least two or three things to do every evening. But I rarely did even one.

I think a lot of this was due to the travel exhaustion I mentioned in my last blog post. Long weekly commutes and long hours at work left me with little energy at the end of the day. Some of the missing posts were also due to me being asleep by 6:50 p.m.! I noticed there weren’t any posts from my time in Atlanta either. I’m sure I was either at work or at home by 6:50 p.m. though, since I didn’t have a car and Atlanta is not a city you can enjoy without one.

It wasn’t all completely uneventful though. I’m pretty pleased with the adventures I did actually have. All the posts from Burning Man and Japan are missing, but that was because I had no internet connection. I’m pretty sure I was having an interesting time though 🙂

Despite the negative tone of this post, I think the 6:50 p.m. project was a worthwhile one. I did manage to log quite a lot during my six months in the U.S. and these photos coupled with my social media posts are my memories of the trip that might otherwise be forgotten. It was also a project that garnered a lot of interest from those that witnessed me randomly taking a photo when an alarm sounded, heh.

Additionally, this retrospective of the project has taught me something – namely, I need to better manage my energy levels if I’m going to make the most of my time. I know now that I burn out if I travel too often, or work too late. I need to make sure that my work pace is sustainable, and my commuting minimised. It’s something that I had thought about for a while but has just been confirmed over the last few weeks, and with this little post.

Time is the only resource you can’t get back after wasting it. I’m going to try and utilise all of it from now on.

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