Towards the end of 2017, I decided I wanted to try a photography project in 2018. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do, and what type of duration I wanted this project to have. I knew I loved people, and portraits; a huge part of why I love photographing weddings so much is the faces and emotions I get to capture. I decided my project would be a portrait project and run the whole length of the year, one person a week; 52 portraits in total.

I knew I needed something else though. I wanted it to be a little more original than just 52 images of people I chose. I thought about themes, colours, situations; and again I thought about what I loved about photography and photographing people. It’s the storytelling. As documentary photographers, we’re hired to capture full events or days as they transpire. Only a small portion of these days or events are posed and planned; the rest unfolds as it will, and it’s our job to capture that. During my job, I talk to people a lot. I listen to them, and what they have to say, and I love it. I decided my project would be called 52 Pieces of Advice. Each of the 52 people I photographed throughout 2018 would provide me with their best, favourite, funniest, saddest, or most heartfelt piece of life advice.

Initially, I wanted to gain experience and knowledge from this project. I wanted to better my portrait skills, and get used to bringing my camera with me on more day to day outings. While I did learn those things, I learned a lot more too. First and foremost, in general people are inherently good. I photographed 52 people. This sample was made up of family, friends, acquaintances, clients, people from my past, and total strangers. They ranged in age from 2 to 90, and geographically were from all ends of the island. Out of all of the people I approached, I was never received negatively; even when I was politely declined. Of the advice I gathered, while it’s quite a range; many of the quotes were centred around kindness and doing good by others. While some were sad, not one person spoke with anger, bitterness, or resentment. All of this surprised me; in a good way.

I loved every minute of this project, even when it got real hard to keep up with (what’s up wedding season); and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Just not this year 😉 2019 will focus on weddings and personal creative projects, but I’ll bring back another portrait project in the future. In the meantime, here’s 52 Pieces of Advice in its entirety. You can also see each individual post in full on Instagram under #52PiecesofAdvice. THANK YOU, to everyone who lent me their face, time, words, kid’s face, or space for this project. You guys rock.

-V

1 // “Always smile.” – Jacob

 

2 // “Don’t waste your life when you’re young.” – Derm

 

3 // “Life is full of ups and downs; make sure you don’t throw up.” – Matt

 

4 // “Don’t alter who you are to fit someone else’s opinion of who you should be.” – Courtney

 

5 // “Don’t fall off the bed.” – Anna

 

6 // “The more you travel, the more the world will be opened up to you.” – Val

 

7 // “Be sure to mitigate life’s risks.” – Dad

 

8 // “Travel!!! Travel a lot!!” – Blayre

 

9 // “Don’t walk the line.” – George

 

10 // “Do what you love, and love what you do.” – Shawn

 

11 // “Always say yes to the dip.” – Costa

 

12 // “You only have one life to life; don’t waste it.” – Ashley

 

13 // “Always smile and say hello.” – Margot & Sylvia

 

14 // “Life’s better when you’re laughing.” – Tash

 

15 // “Don’t psych yourself out.” – Nicole

 

16 // “Stop tumbling on the couch.” – Kevin

 

17 // “It’s important to stay hydrated.” – Tim

 

18 // “Drink a lot of beer.” – Ed

 

19 // “Make a decision to be an unstoppable force. Let nothing in this world stop you from achieving anything you want to. You’ve got this.” – Hasan

 

20 // “Ducks!!!!!!” – Henry

 

21 // “Watch yer bobber.” – Dave

 

22 // “It’s never too late. Find the courage to be yourself, ask for what you really want, and never settle for ‘good enough’.” – Carla

 

23 // “I’m not going to tell you to smile more to to just ‘be happy’, because that isn’t the world we live in. Change is inevitable. The only constant is change. Embrace the ups and downs in life, they are what make it so beautiful.” – Kayla

 

24 // “Always wait two hours after eating before going swimming.” – Rob

 

25 // “It’s not the end of the world, it’s just the end of the artichokes.” – Alex

 

26 // “Make sure to fill up a bucket of kindness wherever you go.” – Bonnie

 

27 // “Enjoy your life now; don’t wait ’til you’re 65.” – Ron

 

28 // “Be kind to everyone.” – Reg

 

29 // “Don’t fall asleep with a smoke in your mouth.” – Junior

 

30 // “Follow your heart, but take your head with you.” – Joy

 

31 // “You don’t need no car.” – John

 

32 // “Live each day to the fullest.” – Debbie

 

33 // “Try and know which cook is in the kitchen before you comment on the food. This is true for life and for lunch.” – Justin

 

34 // “Be wary of people in suits; they’re trying to sell you something. Be friends with people in t-shirts; they’re trying to build something.” – Adrian

 

35 // “Be generous, and not just with yourself.” – Jess

 

36 // “Don’t give up until you find what makes you truly happy.” – Allison

 

37 // “Be honest.” – Joe

 

38 // “The pursuit of knowledge keeps you relevant. Besides career development, I believe there are many other benefits. It allows you to understand change, to be tolerant of others’ actions. Never stop your pursuit of knowledge.” – Derek

 

39 // “Every twist, every turn, can challenge our sense of direction. But it’s the choices we make when we reach a fork in the road that define who we are.” – Janene

 

40 // “If ya feel like giving up, take a look in the mirror and tell yourself you’re awesome.” – Linda

 

41 // “No matter how far you’ve gone on the wrong road, you can still turn around.” – Julie

 

42 // “If you’re feeling tired, make sure to rest; but not to quit.” – Brittany

 

43 // “Life advice? I’m still tryin’ to figure out life myself. I like this job though; it’s outside, and the dead don’t bother ya. Find a career ya likes.” – Chad

 

44 // “Be patient with life, confident in yourself, and kind to others.” – Vanessa

 

45 // “Follow your interests. Let them fuel your creativity, and help guide you through an inspired life.” – Steve

 

46 // “Oh Jesus, that’s a real hard question. I don’t know about advice, but listen here; just do good by people.” – Dale

 

47 // “Advice? Like to go with this picture, or in general? Stay in school; that works for both.” – Shawn

 

48 // “Learn that sometimes it’s okay to say. no.” – Ray

 

49 // “Say what you want out loud. Career ambitions, relationship needs, or wild ideas..share, and share often. People want to help you – and will help you – more than you think.” – Anna

 

50 // “Be true to yourself.” – Grace

 

51 // “When you get an opportunity, say yes.” – Dave

 

52 // “In our world of digital instant gratification, make sure to not lose sight of what really matters.” – Me