20 Week Photo Challenge

I have been toying with the idea of doing a photo project for a while now. I started a Project 365 on January 1st, 2014, and only got a couple of days into it before giving up. While I loved the idea of taking a photo every day for a year, being a busy mom of twin boys, I kept getting further and further behind. And I hate playing the catch up game. In some ways I am a perfectionist. If I have it in my head to do something, I want to do it well, or not at all. In other ways I am completely lazy, but that’s a story for another day.

Several months ago a relative posted this photo on Facebook, and I decided that one photo a week for 20 weeks was a much more manageable challenge to take on. So I began, but little did I know what an impact it would have on me, or that it would result in some of my favourite photos of my family (a few of which I’ve already printed and framed). Take a look through my 19 photos *I cheated made efficient use of one photo for both the silhouette and sunset themes* and maybe even start your own photo project if you feel so inspired!

My 20 Week Photo Challenge | mylife.carlinanquist.com

Week 1: Self Portrait “Out of the Depths” Only a few people know this about me as I hide it well (or at least I think I do), but I have been dealing with depression and anxiety for about 8 years. Some days I feel completely fine, but other days are tough to get through, and tough days can turn into tough weeks really, really fast. I haven’t talked about my struggles much, as I never wanted people to feel awkward or act differently around me. The social stigma is still there and it results in a lot of people suffering with mental illness by themselves. I recently had a friend tell me that she was struggling with depression. When I told her that I was too, there was such a sense of relief in knowing that she wasn’t alone. I hope that if you’re here and struggling in this area you will know that you are not alone.

The title for this photo is taken from Psalm 130:1-2 “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.” In the same way that this photo shows the competing elements of light and darkness, I interpret this verse in 2 different ways, both of which resonate with me now, but especially during the time that this photo was taken.

First, I cry from the depths of my being, for the Lord to hear me, to be with me in my pain. And second, I trust that one day I will be able to say that the Lord, in His never-ending grace, has brought me out of the depths.

Nikon D3s|50mm|f/1.8|1/1600|ISO200|October 6, 2014|3:53PM

Black and White Self Portrait | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 2: What Makes Me Smile  “Bath Time” These boys. They’re going to give me grey hair by the time I’m 30 but they are the sweetest, most hilarious boys and I’m so happy that I get to be their mom.

Nikon D3s|50mm|f/2.0|1/100|ISO1250|October 13, 2014|6:53PM

What Makes Me Smile | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 3: Bold Colours “Jungle Colours” It’s ALL about books in my house right now. My boys are teaching themselves all the colours and animals, and anything else they get a hold of! Our books are “well-loved”, as evidenced by the fraying edges of this book.

Nikon D3s|105mm|f/4.5|1/125|ISO1250|October 23, 2014|9:08AM

Bold Colours | Children


Week 4: Dinner Food Photography is definitely not my strong suit, but I appreciated the challenge and took a few photos before joining my family for a dinner of Pan Roasted Salmon, Asparagus, and Brown Rice.

Nikon D3s|105mm|f/5.6|1/100|ISO640|October 27, 2014|5:22PM

Dinner | Salmon | Rice | Asparagus | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 5: From a High Angle “Tails Wag” This book has now been utterly destroyed, but the boys still have fun with it. I love Jack’s little hands trying to figure out how to make the tails wag back and forth.

Nikon D3s|50mm|f/1.4|1/400|ISO320|November 4, 2014|12:00PM

From A High Angle | Tails Book | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 6: From A Low Angle “A Little Too Short” It won’t be long before my boys are helping themselves to their own breakfast, so I’m glad I have this photo of Felix while he’s still too small to reach the countertops.

Nikon D3s|50mm|f/1.8|1/160|ISO320|October 24, 2014|11:18AMFrom A Low Angle | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 7: What I Wore Today “Mom Jeans” Ripped Jeans. The go-to wardrobe of Moms everywhere.

Nikon D3s|105mm|f/6.3|1/250|ISO200|November 18, 2014|1:33PM

What I Wore Today | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 8: Black and White “Felix” I had a winter scene in mind for my B&W theme but the weather didn’t cooperate/it’s not as easy to go out shooting nature shots with the kids in tow. But I love this one of Felix in Black and White. That profile, his little nose, chubby cheeks, and beautiful bright eyes. My heart.

Nikon D3s|105mm|f/3.0|1/250|ISO400|November 16, 2014|5:01PM

Black and White | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 9: A Mess “Caught Red Handed” This lovely moment is brought to you by the two little munchkins who thought it would be fun to dump out an entire bottle of red food colouring. Yep, that happened.

Nikon D3s|24-70@70mm|f/2.8|1/125|ISO3200|December 10, 2014|5:36PM

A Mess | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 10: Hands “Learning to Pray” And for every moment of insanity (see Week 9), there’s a moment like this.

Nikon D3s|24-70@66mm|f/2.8|1/500|ISO800|December 22, 2014|1:38PM

Hands | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 11: Something Orange “Felix’s favourite colour” Perhaps too literal of an interpretation, but it’s the middle of winter and I feel uninspired by the white and blah that is outside.

Nikon D3s|105mm|f/8.0|1/160|ISO2500|January 6, 2014|12:05PM

Something Orange | Crayons | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 12: Bokeh “Water in Macro” I’m slightly obsessed with all things bokeh (a term referring to both the blur from a wide aperture, as well as the rendered light in the out of focus areas), so this was a fun theme to play around with. This photo was created by spraying water on the bottom of a CD, and then I used a little video light to camera left to reflect light off of the CD and water to give it the nice rainbow effect.

Nikon D810|105mm|f/6.3|1/640|ISO1600|January 4, 2015|8:45PM

Booked | Water Droplets | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Weeks 13-14: Silhouette & Sunset “Again!” There is pure joy on Jack’s face when daddy throws him in the air. My twins have such different personalities. We tried this with Felix as well and he crumples into a little ball. But with Jack, squeals of delight.

Nikon D810|24-70@32mm|f/3.2|1/1250|ISO250|January 15, 2015|6:28PM

Silhouette | Sunset | Daddy Throwing Child in the Air | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 15: Your Shoes “At the Edge” I don’t know that I have figured this picture out yet. And that’s one of the things I love about photography – it can mean different things to different people, and can even mean something different to me today than it did yesterday.

Nikon D810|24-70@31mm|f/10|1/160|ISO250|January 19, 2015|12:19PM

Your Shoes | Chevron | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 16: Something You Made “Original Rockford Red Heel Sock Monkeys” I can’t take all the credit for these silly little sock monkeys. My mom helped out a lot with the sewing, and they went great with my sock monkey theme for the boys second birthday party.

Nikon D3s|20mm|f/2.8|1/5000|ISO200|February 13, 2014|1:49PM

Something You Made | Sock Monkeys  | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 17: Someone You Love “My Sons” I love these boys more than I ever thought was possible. Motherhood definitely has its challenges, but it’s in quiet moments like this, with both of my boys sitting in my lap and looking at books that I fall more in love with them. They amaze me everyday with their kindness to each other, their laughter, and how much they keep growing and learning, sometimes in spite of me.

Nikon D3s|20mm|f/4.5|1/200|ISO800|February 19, 2014|11:13AM

Someone You Love | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 18: Childhood Memory “Dad Do Not Look” My brother Jordan and I stashed all our Christmas gifts for our dad in this box, and wrote a note to keep him from looking inside. “DAD DO NOT lookin here your gefts are in here thank you =:)

And he didn’t look.

Nikon D3s|50mm|f/2.2|1/8000|ISO200|March 12, 2014|2:56PM

Childhood Memory | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 19: From A Distance “A Long Road” Our boys are just 2 years old. We are only just getting started with this whole parenting thing, and some days it feels like we have a long, looonggg way to go. But all we can do is take our children by the hand, let our Heavenly Father lead us by His hand, and walk one step at a time.

Nikon D3s|20mm|f/2.2|1/2500|ISO200|March 19, 2015|6:19PM

From A Distance | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Week 20: Self Portrait “Unknown” Let me just say it: Self portraits are HARD. Not only do I have to envision a theme and composition, pre-adjust all my settings, and mount my camera on a tripod, but then I have to actually BE IN the picture. I have to do it without anyone telling me what to do, or what small adjustments would make the photo better. And in this case, I had to do all of that in the freezing cold. Well, that’s not true – I didn’t HAVE to go out in the freezing cold, but when we woke up on March 21st in the middle of a cloud, my photographers heart compelled me to put on a purple dress and frolic in a wheat field. I know, it’s a sickness.

What’s more, I am my own worst critic. Of my thoughts, of my creativity, of my appearance, and of my photography. I always see what I could have done better. At times this has prevented me from sharing my work with the world. I keep it to myself for fear that I will be told I’m not “good enough” to be doing what I’m doing. And that’s ultimately why I decided to take on this photo project. It has forced me to limit myself to a theme, and limit my creativity within that structure. It has forced me to take a photo and share it, even when I see 100 things that I could have done better. It has forced me to be ok with the imperfect photos, and in some cases, really fall in love with an imperfect photo. It’s changed the way that I want to capture and document my everyday life. It’s forced me to shoot for ME, and not for what I think I am supposed to be.

That is what this final self portrait is about. It’s about giving myself permission to shoot what I want to shoot. It’s about giving myself freedom to own my artistic voice. It’s about pushing myself into the unknown and seeing life through my heart first, and my lens second.

Nikon D3s|50mm|f/2.8|1/800|ISO200|March 21, 2015|10:47AM

Self Portrait | 20 Week Photo Challenge | Carlin Anquist Photography


Thanks for reading! This site is dedicated to anything and everything that I feel and photograph. You’ll see lots of photos of my twin boys, Jack and Felix, as well as anything that stirs my creativity in my personal life. If you would like to check out my professional client work including weddings, engagements, newborns and families, here’s a link back to the main site. Feel free to use the contact form if you’d like to get in touch. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram (personal and professional).

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  • Susan Anquist

    Carlin, who knew what a little challenge would end up being. Thank you for sharing a slice of your life. Thank you for sharing your joys and your struggle with depression. It is real life human stuff and it gives us permission to be real, so thanks for that!
    By the way…your work is stunning!ReplyCancel

    • carlin.anquist

      Thanks for your comments Auntie Suzi! My hope is just that – that we give ourselves permission to be real. Blessings on you!ReplyCancel

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