Visualizing Daily Rituals

shoes outside and open doorway

I was on the IAP Activities website, going through every single activity category, every single activity listing, looking for a fun thing to do during IAP and to feel productively unproductive while taking a break from psetting. When I saw the listing about Visualizing Daily Rituals, to be honest, after a quick scan, I was mostly intrigued by the idea of getting to use a free disposable camera. I had never used one before, so the activity seemed like something new and fun to try. After fully reading the activity description though, I found even more reasons to sign up. I liked the goal of connecting to others through the small but daily things in our lives. And I could always appreciate a bit of reflection in life. 

When I got my camera, I thought it would be easy to find things to take photos of, since I already take too many photos (some number around thirty thousand) on my phone, of food, plants, weather, buildings, people, animals, anything. I don’t normally put too much thought into it; I’m just capturing something I want to remember at some later point in life. The first few photos followed my normal habits of photo-taking. There were definitely some daily rituals that I already tended to take photos of. I eat dinner every day, click. I walked to the beach every day, click. I talk to my roommates every day, click. 

But as more obvious rituals were captured, the amount of film left dwindled and the novelty of a disposable camera began wearing off. I became stingier with what was worth taking photos of. I actively searched for and noted routines while going through my day. Sometimes I’d identify one, such as working on my laptop every day, and debated. Was it really worth wasting one of the few images left on a shot of my laptop screen? I wanted my photos to look nice. I set up my breakfast on a white countertop with good lighting, click. I squatted to get a better angle of shoes on the ground, click. I hopped onto a chair to get a bird’s eye view of the meal prep set up, click.

Despite my effort, there were still some subjects that I couldn’t figure out how to make photo-worthy. A few days went by without taking any photos. I couldn’t think of any more habits to take photos of. The ones left seemed extra mundane, not worth documenting permanently and sharing through a photo. But as the deadline to mail the cameras in approached, I had no new ideas. So I took a shot of some dirty dishes in the sink, click; a shot of the old mug I drink just water from, click; and a shot of my laptop with too many windows open, click. With those final clicks, I was done with the film! And though I thought these final subjects were a bit insignificant, after seeing them through a camera lens, my view of them changed. Looking at them through the camera lens, I was forced to pause and think for a moment before clicking. I realized, although boring, those acts were a routine part of my life. So, they too deserved to be on the roll of film. They were habits I could rely on to happen every day. And during the crazy and unpredictable time of CoVid19, those little things made life still feel relatively normal. I did them before the pandemic, did them during, and still do them now. The pandemic didn’t affect the most fundamental aspects of my life.