Welcome to Ten Year Leap
Ten Year Leap is a photography project I began on January 1st 1999 with the simple intention of taking a photo every day for a year – the final year of the 20th century, the last year of the second millennium.
Waking up on 31st December 1998, the millennium seemed like something important, a milestone both in my own life and in the life of the planet. Now it just seems like a blip in history – an anti-climax. It was New Year’s Eve, and I had no party to go to. I had spent the day helping my boyfriend move his stuff into the flat I shared with two other people. By the end of the day we were too tired to go out. I worried that I was being boring, and somewhere out of that fear of not being in the thick of things, the idea for Photo of the Day, or Ten Year Leap as it became known later, took hold. I would take a photograph every single day of the year, no matter where I was or what I was doing. That way, I would have to find something important and vital about every single day of the year – from the most exciting to the deeply mundane – to focus on and record.
The rules of the project were simple. Using a small film camera that fitted easily in my bag I was allowed to take as many photos as I wanted but I had to remember to take at least one photo each day – there could be no cheating.
I would then send the photos off in the post to be developed by Snappy Snaps and hope they came back safely. I didn’t have a digital camera – not many people did in 1999 - and of course this was in the days before camera phones – so I had to remember to take my camera with me wherever I went. When the photographs came back I mounted them in 12 albums, one for each month with a simple caption and the date. When the project was finished I had an exhibition of the photographs and invited people to come and flick through the albums, leave comments and drink wine. Ten years later in 2009, when I decided to repeat the project, I had a digital camera which made taking photos easier, and I could upload them onto the internet the same day. Snappy Snaps were no more – which was just as well as they had lost one of my 1999 films - and the website meant that I didn’t need to wait until the end of the year to show off the photos – it could all happen in real time – well almost.
A new level to the project was created by the juxtaposition of placing the 2009 photos alongside the photographs taken on the same day ten years earlier. Trouble was, the simple rules I’d stuck to in 1999 seemed to be complicated now by the technological advances in social media and the accompanying concerns over privacy – back in 1999 I’d always asked permission to take photos of people and explained why I was doing it, but now the explaining seemed to be more complicated and peoples’ reactions to the project were more suspicious. Since 2009, taking multiple photographs of one’s life, and then putting them out there for anyone to look at, and judge, has become the norm, but so too has the shaming of the selfie generation, the worries over mental health associated with the overuse of social media and the concerns over protecting identity- especially the identity of children. I’ll be honest, I’m worried about how all that will affect my photographs this year. From what seemed like simple parameters – take a photo every day and display it for people to look at – the caveats and provisos and permissions and safeguarding required now can only hamper the project and cramp its intentions. How can I make sure I don’t always take the easy way out and chose easy subjects that won’t talk back? I don’t know, we’ll have to see. One thing is for certain though, if you’ve come here looking for great lifestyle photos you’ll be disappointed. If you’re expecting guru-like quotes or wise words about the passing of time, you’ll be even more disappointed. On the plus side, I can promise you that there they will no gratuitous product placement in these photos – or if there is – it’s for the sake of truth rather than commerce. The copyright on all the photo shown within the Ten Year Leap project is mine all mine – though sometimes I might include links to and stuff about the work of proper photographers I admire.
Here’s a handy timeline
1999 – The start of Photo of the Day
May 2000 – Photo of the Day Exhibition in my flat on Finchley Road
2002 – the first phones with built in cameras went on the market
2004 – The start of Facebook. I joined in 2008
2006 – The start of Twitter. I joined at some point, but soon left as I could never think of anything to say.
2007 – The first iPhones went on sale
2009 – Photo of the Day Stage 2 – Now called Ten Year Leap and with its own dedicated website (thanks Dave)
2010 – the start of Instagram (were they inspired by Ten Year Leap???) I joined in 2016
2019 – Phase 3 of Ten Year Leap – You, reading this.
Reading the Photos
At the end of each day in 2019 I will post my Photo of the Day along with a short description or caption. I should really keep the words as brief as possible at this stage, that’s really a task for ten year’s time – 2029. Beneath that picture you can scroll down to find the photos from 1999 with the caption that I wrote for it in 2009, and the photo for 2009 with a caption or some stuff that I will have written this year. I like to see what the photo from ten years ago makes me feel today. You can then look back through the archive as the year rolls on, to catch up with previous trios of photos.