Sara’s year of worry

Sara Hill
Sara Hill
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SARA Hill’s Guatemalan worry dolls should perhaps be, well, worried.

The tiny two centimetre tall figurines are traditionally used to help distressed children sleep. Whisper your problems to the dolls, so the legend goes, and when you wake the woe will be gone.

Stars: Sara's dolls

Stars: Sara's dolls

But magazine photographer Sara, of Sharrow Lane, Sharrow, has a somewhat different plan for hers.

She is snapping the dolls in a different Sheffield location for every single day of 2012 as part of an online blog which, barely a week in, is already attracting hits from across the globe.

So far they have been pictured climbing chocolates, landing on a model moon and exploring what seems to be a glacial landscape.

But then, in the final week of next December, she will round things off by picturing the seven little sightseers burning, drowning and meeting other gruesome ends.

It is all part of a 365 project – an increasingly popular concept where a person takes a themed picture every day of the year and posts it online.

“I’d been thinking for a long time that I wanted to do something like this – partially because it will improve my photography and partially because it seems a good way of interacting with the world and your surroundings – but I couldn’t decide on a theme,” says the 30-year-old who edits and takes pictures for city mag Now Then. “I was looking online but it seemed everything had been done by someone somewhere in the world.

“So, I’d decided not to bother. Then I was talking to my brother at 2am on New Year’s Day after one too many Southern Comforts. He was the one who gave me the dolls years ago, and it clicked: ‘I love my dolls – I’ll make them stars’.”

And the reason for the gory finale?

“I figured after a year of being in unusual places they’d be looking worse for wear,” explains Sara. “And I suppose there’s a certain symbolism about destroying worry dolls at the end of a year.”

She thinks for a moment.

“Plus maybe my brother will buy me some more.”

It’s not been an easy start, though. The gales have meant the first week of snaps have been taken indoors for fear the lightweight dolls be blown away. “I was scared they’d get lost,” says Sara, who was born in Glasgow, grew up in London and moved to Sheffield in 2009.

“But it’s meant I’ve been able to model them in some unusual positions.”

Unusual positions aside, what they all have in common is being so beautifully shot they have already received plaudits from friends and 365-followers alike.

“It’s a personal project,” says Sara. “But it’s nice when you put something out there and people like it.

“If anyone wants to suggest location ideas around Sheffield I’m definitely open to that. I think I’ll need some inspiration over the year.”

Sara’s project can be followed at

One day at a time: 365 projects

THE 365 project is a relatively new concept where participants take a picture every single day for a whole year and post it online.

Slightly lazier than an internet diary, perhaps, but famous examples have included a girl who took 365 pictures of her own face through the year and a chap who shot whatever was directly above him at a specific time each day.

It wasn’t as dull as you might imagine.

In 2010, Walkley photographer Luke Avery snapped a different person in a different part of Sheffield for every date.

A resulting exhibition attracted hundreds.