Few photographers can boast the level of commitment that creative photographer and paper artist Catherine MacBride has demonstrated in her twelve years as a Flickr member. Ever since the day she started her first 365 project in 2011, she has been posting images non-stop to her Flickr account. Every. Single. Day. For (almost) nine years.
Nothing, not even Flickr’s recent scheduled downtime (when Catherine tweeted at us for help to post her 365 shot), has stopped this Irish-born visual storyteller from doing what she loves to do the most: taking photos and sharing them to Flickr. “I think I’m just stubborn. My husband, Scott, started this photo-a-day challenge with me back in 2011, and since then I think we’ve been playing an extremely long game of chicken, both unwilling to give up and let the other win.”
The idea of finding new and exciting things to photograph every day is simply a chimera. Catherine admits some days are hard, and life gets in the way, but that’s also part of the appeal of doing a continuous 365 days. “I’ve learnt that my creativity seems to come and go in cycles. I seem to have times when I can knock it out of the park on a daily basis and be so happy with the images I create and times when I feel like I’m never going to come up with another decent idea. Either way, I still turn up to take the shot and post it to Flickr.”
No matter what comes up, Catherine stays consistent through the good and bad and treats every shot as a learning opportunity for growth. “I’ve learnt that if I can’t get something to work as I planned, it’s not a complete loss. Knowing what doesn’t work is very useful next time you go to take a shot. I’ve learnt how to think on my feet. When an idea doesn’t work out, I can’t just throw in the towel — I still have to get a shot by midnight.”
At this point, she says, Flickr has become an extensive catalogue of her photographic career. “I showcase my images on 500px, Instagram, and Pinterest, and they are my curated portfolio: me on a good day with my hair just done. My Flickr account is my workshop, my photography catalogue, and my visual diary. The place I turn up to in my pyjamas to work through ideas, and it is still after all these years the first site I open when I come online.”
A project of this magnitude takes time and effort. Planning. Shooting. Processing. The more elaborate paper scenes may take a few days to plan and make, but Catherine is prepared for all the pressures of time constraints: “I started sketching out ideas for shots into a little storyboard notebook whenever an idea came to me from early on in my photo a day project. Having a record can be handy, as they act as triggers on days when you are short of ideas and can also act as a springboard for even more. I often find that shooting a particular image can give me an idea of how it could be turned into a mini-series of images, so that makes shooting continuously easier.”
Besides being a full-time photographer that works for international companies and design agencies, Catherine is a very talented paper artist, a major advantage for a profession where creativity and imagination are the keywords. Running short of ideas becomes less of a problem when you can make things to photograph out of paper: houses, buildings, clouds, all have a place in her own self-constructed, little world.
“When I look through my Flickr photostream, I can actually see their evolution over time, starting with crude, simple models with simple lighting to more elaborate scenes and lighting setups. They have improved quite drastically over the years, and I even managed to gain my Fellowship in Photography from the Irish Photographic Federation with a panel of paper images.”
When asked what is next in her creative career, Catherine says, “I’m teaching myself the basics of video capture and editing. It just seemed like a natural progression for my photography. I recently managed to get my first hundred videos up on sale with my lovely agency, Stocksy United, which I have to say I’m rather pleased with. It was a fairly steep learning curve, but I’ve really enjoyed it. I think pushing myself to learn new things and try different techniques, like video, keeps me creating, and that keeps me happy.”