If you know me, I’ve been taking a photo a day for the past 12 years. This project was inspired by Jamie Livingston, who took a polaroid every single day from 1979 till he succumbed to cancer in 1997 (his last photo is him deceased in a hospital room). Jamie left behind a legacy in photographs, and I genuinely want to do the same — to take the summation of my day, the most interesting photograph (no matter how nice or joyous or sad) and post it online. My project was first on Flickr, but with the advent of good cameras on smartphones and the simplicity of Instagram, I began publicly posting the photos on social media as “The 365 Day Project” under the account name “retuta365.”
A few months ago, a friend asked me to remove a photo from my “retuta365” account on Instagram. I thought about it, and decided to make that account private. I’ve worked on this project for over a decade, and I had to decide whether me or other people have to the right to direct my work. Who should dictate how I need to express myself? Who, but me — the owner of a very personal project — should say what will be in my visual legacy? Who’s to judge what content is special or meaningful to me? The 365 Day Project is very much like a diary or journal, and for the most part, should be kept in private.
Still, the narcissistic artist in me likes a little attention, or at least the knowledge that my work exists somewhere in the public ether — especially when I’m long gone. I decided to create a brand new page, accessible if you try and find it, and far removed from ubiquitous, in-your-face nature of an open social media feed. The 365 Day Project is there, but for the average internet user there are several clicks for you to discover its location.
So, if you’re reading this and need to find it, or want to learn more about who I am, here’s Phillip Retuta’s 365 Day Project. Every day, I’ll continue to post a photo, to add one more mark of evidence that I lived, that I existed.