While browsing various webpages related to photography I frequently come across the PAD acronym. This abbrevation is very familiar today, yet, when I first started using it 10 years ago, that was not the case.
From what I see today, there seems to be a very vague and broad definition in peoples mind of what this term really means.
To me, there is no doubt. PAD means "Picture A Day", a task one takes one and involves posting one picture each and every day on the internet for a certain period of time, and that picture has to be taken on the same day it is posted.
At least that was the meaning when I started my PAD assignment in September 2003. Back then, very few people knew the term, and as far as I know, I was the only person in Iceland that had taken on the challenge of posting one picture a day for a whole year. ( 366 days to be precise, as 2004 was a leap year )
My decision was a very impulsive one. I simply came across a photo gallery on pbase.com where a guy named David Mingay was posting his PAD. I found this idea interesting and exciting, and immediately opened my own PAD gallery and started posting.
The beginning of my PAD, my first upload, September 23rd 2003
Five minutes later, I seriously started doubting my impulsiveness, and a lot of questions came to my mind:
Do I really have time for this ?
Am I really that good ?
Is it really possible ?
Luckily, I posted first, before I asked those questions. By the time I had the answers, it was to late for me to step back. My gallery was already "on the air" and several people had seen my first posting and commented. I was already beyond "point of no return"
I did finish my assignment, and I did achieve what I set out to do. From September 23rd 2003 - September 23rd 2004 I did deliver, taking my PAD each and every day and upload on the same day ( apart from few days when upload was impossible due to lack of internet connection ). My success was mainly based on the clear understanding of the term PAD back in those days, and the pressure and discipline from a very dedicated PAD society on pase.com.
Yet, looking back, despite my impulsive start and success, I think each and everyone out there thinking about taking on a PAD assignment should really take some time to seriously think about what it really means to take on the challenge of PAD before deciding wether to go for it or not. There are few essential questions to be asked before rushing into it.
"Pages" - My PAD posting from January 12, 2004
Question 1: What is PAD ?
My answer: PAD is a real challenge you take on to test your endurance, determination, stamina and self discipline, while systematically, day by day, working on improving your photographic skills.
From the early days of PAD, the clear and unanimous definition of PAD being a 12 months assignment has been diluted into whatever definition one finds most appropriate. Today I do see people decide on doing PAD for a week or a month. ( I even see people start posting "PAD" meaning - "I will post a picture whenever I can, and for long as I persevere. )
I do agree that the PAD period can be something other than a whole year, yet to me one thing I still essential - PAD is useless unless it involves a real challenge. A short period of one week or a one month will never test your endurance nor give you any real opportunity to work systematically on improving your photographic skills.
Question 2: Am I ready for a this challenge for next 6 or 12 months ?
I know all to well from my own experience, that it is easy to get carried away by this splendid idea of taking one photo each and every day for next twelve months. We all love taking photos, and many of us do indeed shoot daily, without having the PAD pressure on our back. We simply love to do this.
Taking the decision to shoot and post each and every day for next 12 months is completely different. As soon as you have made you presence clear on an open webpage, there will be lot of people following you and the pressure is on. You will struggle with delivering, both in the quality of each photo uploaded, and keeping a very tight time schedule, not missing a single day. Believe me, this is more demanding than you realize in the beginning.
Yet, this is the real essence of PAD - testing your determination, your endurance and your stamina in doing what you set out to do - taking one photo each and every day, finding your daily motiv ( come rain, come hell), choosing your favorite of the day ( if you are lucky enough to have a selection - some days you will be stuck with just the one shot you managed to do five minutes to midnight ), post process the shot and upload in time. Missing the deadline is just as serious as not taking the photo.
You will as well be under pressure each and every day for delivering "better" photo than the one you uploaded yesterday. This involves both the technical aspect of your shot as well as the content and the originality. Time after time, you will be forced to step out of your comfort zone, to try new things and take on new challenges. This is the other aspect of the PAD challenge - to use it to systematically improve your photographic skills.
Assuming that you have found your answers to the 2 questions above, I think its time to confront you with the last, and the most important question. Please bear in mind, that my reflection on those two previous questions are in no way meant to discourage you in taking on the challenge of PAD. On the contrary, I urge each and every one to really consider the challenge, and the opportunity it gives you to improve your photographic skills and to learn a lot about your self at the same time.
"TOAST" - my PAD posting on March 27, 2004
I HAVE THREE REASONS FOR MY TOAST TODAY.
REASON NUMBER ONE:
This is my PAD no 183, which means that I have completed half of the task I started on September 24th 2003. The decision to start posting one picture each day for a year was very impulsive. While browsing Pbase I came across the works of David Mingay, Paul Walters and Michael Bo Hansen, and fifteen minutes later my PAD gallery was up with my first posting. One hour after that, I had already found several reasons not to do this. Luckily I posted first and then asked.
REASON NUMBER TWO:
Much to my surprise and astonishment even, the PAD project has turned out to be far more than I expected. I saw in it a chance and a challenge to start working on my photographic skills, a necessary discipline to keep me focused on what I already had decided to do - to change my photographic behavior from collecting snapshots to making pictures, and hopefully to be able someday to make a photograph that I could be pretty proud of. What I did not expect was to find a society of people that are willing to give me some of their precious time each and every day, not only to look at my daily pics, but also to encourage me by positive and constructive comments, as well as sharing their views and feelings. During these 183 days that I have been in this game, I have gradually found that I value more the personal contact, the friendship and the solidarity of the group, than the photographic aspect of PAD. I now know that the essence of the game is having fun while you satisfy your need for photographic expression.
REASON NUMBER THREE:
As I sit down at my computer writing this it is past midnight here in Iceland. We are 5 hours ahead of NYC time. I guess that while I am working on this, some of our PAD friends are celebrating their meeting in the Big Apple, a meeting which is a hard core proof of how PAD has brought people together and created friendship across borders and continents. So, here's to PAD, to the first half of my assignment completed, to all you fellow PADers wherever you are, and last, but not least, to the PAD group celebrating in NYC. Happy shooting to all of you !!!!
So - Go for it - be a little crazy and have fun !!!!
( I will follow up on this post in coming weeks with few tips and advice on how to prepare for this interesting challenge )