Fieldnotes

Starting a Year-Long,
Daily Photography Journal

13 February 2024

Daily Photography Journal Jeremy Bassetti

I’m 30 days into a 365-day quest to take at least two photographs each and every day in 2024.

I got this idea from a photographer named Wesley Verhoeve, who used a Tri-X disposable camera to document his life in 2023.

Like Wesley, I’m doing this just to be better at documenting my life with photography. I already keep a written journal, but I’d like to do a better job keeping a visual journal, a daily photography journal. Just a record that says — if it says anything at all — I was here and this is what I saw.

Diptych Sample 1 Jeremy Bassetti
Diptych Sample 1

I wish I could say I’m doing this to look closely, to think about the details, to train myself to see the beauty in the ordinary. But, I can’t.

Who doesn’t want their photos to be beautiful and interesting? But that’s not the point of this.

The fact of the matter is that I’m doing this just to document life, just to create an artifact of a life lived, just to build a daily practice of photography.

So, like Wesley, I settled on a film camera for this year-long project. But I decided on using the Kodak Ektar H35N.

Why did I choose the Kodak Ektar H35N over my better digital and film cameras?

About the Kodak Ektar H35N

Apparently, the Kodak Ektar H35N is the updated version of the H35. The H35N has a front metal plate, a flash, a glass lens element, and a gimmicky star filter thing that I’ll never use.

It is a barebones, no frills, point-and-shoot camera that shoots your favorite film in half frame.

In one 35mm frame, the H35N takes two vertical “half frame” photographs.

This is what the “H” stands for in H35N. The camera will shoot 72 photographs on a standard roll of 36 exposures, or 48 in a roll of 24.

Half-frame cameras aren’t new. They were quite popular in the 1960s and 70s. The Olympus PEN and the Ricoh Auto Half are well-known examples.

Like these earlier half-frame cameras, the Kodak Ektar H35N is tiny. It easily fits in a pocket.

I like these small, point-and-shoot cameras because there’s no chimping, burst modes, lens swamping, over analyzing, or strict framing. You just snap a photo and move on. There is little friction if you, say, want to take a few photographs each day for a year.

Diptych Sample 2 Jeremy Bassetti
Diptych Sample 2

My half-frame diptych project

But I doing more than just taking a few photographs each day.

The half-frame format (and Ali’s website) inspired me to create a year-long diptych project on my website, which I’ll publish in early 2025.

At the tap of a button, the webpage will randomly select and display pairs of images from the year’s collection.

The two images above are screenshots of dyptichs from the project. You can also watch the video above to see the program in action.

If I shoot 72 images a month for 12 months, my program will give me over 180,000 possible pairs of photos if their order or position matter; and over 93,000 possible combinations if it doesn’t.

A year from now, I’ll write a follow-up post with my reflections on the project. I’ll also publish my random pair generator.

Until then, I’ll continue shoot and reflecting on the experience.

I do have some questions and doubts. I’m wondering if I should be doing this with my main digital camera, since I carry it with me most places anyway. And I’m wondering about the costs associated with film and the time it takes to scan, crop, and format.

I’ll report back on these questions later.