A decade ago I set out to push myself as a writer and photographer. I picked the most boring, mundane subject I could think about: myself, drinking coffee. I would photograph and write about every cup of coffee I drank for 100 consecutive cups of coffee. In the process, I would try to make it interesting for a general audience.
At the time, writing for the Web as its own medium was fairly new, so this was an exercise working in a new medium for me. Facebook didn’t exist yet, and taking pictures of, posting and writing about the things you were eating was a pretty strange thing to do. It still is, when you think about it! We also divulge a lot more about our personal lives now. It was an uncomfortable experience doing it a decade ago.
I can see a real arc in the quality. I hit my stride around the 25th post. The writing is more articulate and interesting, and the photographic compositions are much better composed. Around the 75th post the enthusiasm starts to fade. Or maybe it was the depression was setting in.
It’s an interesting snapshot of life a decade ago. It’s remarkable how much has changed, and how some things haven’t changed at all, both in my life and the world at large.
Doing 100 Cups of Coffee really had a profound impact on all my creative work that followed. Doing something creative is one thing. Doing it repeatedly is a very different challenge. The majority of work that I’ve done since has been an artist’s multiple of some sort. You learn things in the repetition that you don’t when you just do one of something. All true art is a kind of science, and when you do multiples you add repeatable results and are doing research.