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Author Topic: Your project determination style  (Read 12780 times)
jerrygrasso96
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« on: February 22, 2009, 09:04:27 AM »
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I'm curious about something. For those of you who shoot on a project basis rather than going from one random location to another, what were some of your last projects, and most importantly, what was your decision process in deciding upon this particular project?

The reason I ask, is because I am having a difficult time in coming up with project ideas that can actually be acted upon. Once you came up with the project idea, how did you plan it?  Thanks, everyone, for helping me.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2009, 09:38:17 AM »
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I needed to do a series of candid shots at an indoor exhibition of photos by a photographic society. The light was reasonable, but not great, and flash was out of the question, so I used a Pana LX3 with a monopod. Many of the images were lost due to subject movement, but still it was productive.

This was an unpaid project - paid work for me is usually decided by someone else, so all I have to do on those occasions is show up.

Other unpaid projects (from which I can derive sellable material) are fairly easy to schedule - I joined several photo and computer clubs, art museums, zoos, and I check out events listings for the regional area, and get to as many of those as possible when there is a photographic opportunity.
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Rob C
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« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2009, 09:39:37 AM »
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[quote name='jerrygrasso96' date='Feb 22 2009, 04:04 PM' post='262007']


The reason I ask, is because I am having a difficult time in coming up with project ideas that can actually be acted upon.



Jerry, this is not a problem that others can fix for you; you have to determine your own reality and act within its parameters.

Rob C
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jerrygrasso96
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« Reply #3 on: February 22, 2009, 12:45:59 PM »
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Exactly right, Rob. But by reading how others are approaching creative project work, I may be able to spot trends that work in general and at least give me something to consider when trying to develop something on my own.
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jerrygrasso96
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« Reply #4 on: February 22, 2009, 12:50:50 PM »
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Exactly right, Rob. But by reading how others develop creative projects I may be able to spot trends which may help me with my own project approach.

Dale: interesting ideas about looking at meseums, etc. for regional approaches. Thank you.
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David Sutton
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« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2009, 05:01:23 AM »
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Hi Jerry. Just had a look at your blog. It seems to me that the way you think about your photography has dropped you in a bit of a hole, and now you are trying to use the same type of thinking to get yourself out of it. In other words, you are specifying in advance what is going to work for you, what you "need". "Doomed" is a word that comes to mind.
In one of my other lives I am a musician and music teacher, and man have I seen a lot of people crash and burn when they realised they were not going to be in the same league as the world's best. My guess is that the ones still going practise gratitude on a daily basis, have found a few small things they can do well and work on that, and work on enjoying that and enjoying being themselves. Suddenly they often find themselves doing something completely unique. After a few decades or so.
Many of the photographers I know who have other full time work are getting a lot of pleasure from contributing to their local camera society, from contributing to other groups in their community (which gets them out and around the wider world) and from getting many of their best shots within 15 minutes drive from their front door (does your local newspaper never have a good image?).
Uh, I feel a finger-wagging moment approaching, better go lie down now, cheers, David
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jerrygrasso96
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« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2009, 10:02:32 AM »
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Hi David,
What you say is very true. I have to remember why I am doing this, because I enjoy it! That said, there has to be a better way than just letting luck, no matter how you define it, control my ability to discover something which may work for me. There is a lot to be said for going back to the same spot. The last thing I want to do is stifle my creativity by over planning, which as an IT guy, I tend do do, even in my day job. I recognize the fact that I still need to go out and practice my tecnique and get out behind the camera.

But that said, the musician who wants to cut a CD must have to plan out his project at some point. Is it enough to just go back through the songs you have in you catalog and just put them together into a collection? Doesn't there have to be a theme or an organizing concept? Isn't there some sort of previsualization-like for the sound you are trying to promote?

That is what I am struggling with...Thanks so much, by the way, for taking time to look through my gallery. But I'm sure by looking at the "best" I have right now, it is plain to see that what I have is really nothing. I guess I want it to be something more.
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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2009, 11:22:00 AM »
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Quote from: Taquin
one of my other lives I am a musician and music teacher, and man have I seen a lot of people crash and burn when they realised they were not going to be in the same league as the world's best. My guess is that the ones still going practise gratitude on a daily basis, have found a few small things they can do well and work on that, and work on enjoying that and enjoying being themselves. Suddenly they often find themselves doing something completely unique. After a few decades or so.


Ainīt that the truth!

Looking at the site I would suggest, and am prepared to admit that I might be totally wrong, but would suggest, nonetheless, that the problem faced might be that the photographer is trying too many fields.

Most pros that get somewhere do tend to specialize for one reason or another, why should it be different for the non-pro?

To illustrate this same thing, I need look no further than my own retired-pro photography: currently, I find my enthusiasm fluctuates between colour and black/white and once I feel Iīve had enough of either, the alternative seems so much more interesting. Perhaps, in my case, it is the thing that Terence Donovan is quoted as having said, and I paraphrase as best I can: the problem for the amateur is finding a reason to take a photograph. Quite, and no easier for the ex-pro either! Much the reverse, in fact, where motivation or, if you prefer, direction is difficult to discover; perhaps the answer is just to let it go, but that would make life very hollow and even feel like a sort of betrayal of the years gone past. I write this, having stumbled into a new branch of photography (for me) which inspires a bit, but for how long?

Why is life so complicated?

Rob C
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alainbriot
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« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2009, 12:05:35 PM »
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Quote from: jerrygrasso96
. . .  by reading how others develop creative projects I may be able to spot trends which may help me with my own project approach.

Jerry,

Have you read this series:

http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/Find...spiration.shtml

There's 4 essays.  The links to the 3 others are here:

http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/briots_view.shtml

ALain
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Alain Briot
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jerrygrasso96
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« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2009, 02:27:16 PM »
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Yes, Alain, I have, as I have also read most of the articles, with great relish!, on your site. If you click the link in my signature, View my blog, and read the latest entry, you might say that I am just trying too hard. And you may be right. But Alain, I am intrigued as to how/why you have decided to move into the abstract. I have been reading your latest articles. Clearly, doing the abstract, which is where I see myself heading, since I am becoming bored with straight photography, has to require more than just experimentation? I can put together a dozen or so stuff and invent a reason to put on a show, but that just feels too arbitrary to expect something significant.

As some of my friends above have been trying to tell me, I can't expect to just "think" a significant project into existence. I know it doesn't work that way necessarily. It just seems to me that the discipline of determining a vision, however that is done, planning for it, and at least coming up with an idea for each photo in the collection that supports the main theme has got to yeild more unified collections or more time and much practice. Alain, even in some of your articles with exercizes, you seem to promote this. On John Paul Caponigro's site, he goes so far as to even make general sketches in advance before you even go out; very general sketches of simple line/shape objects that depict the overall design of each image in the series. I know that there are times when just pulling together a dozen or two of your latest abstracts can also work as a collection approach.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2009, 03:06:43 PM »
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Quote from: jerrygrasso96
I am intrigued as to how/why you have decided to move into the abstract.

Abstract means that you can't tell what the original subject might be.  Meaning, if you take a tree as subject, then an abstract photograph of this tree would not let you know that it is a tree.  In my images the subject is always easily identifiable, even if blurred as in my latest series, hence they are not abstract in my book.

I found the list of "stages" you went through on your blog interesting, especially the part where you say that not getting the comments you expect from professionals might come from them being jealous of your work.  I had not thought of that as a possibility before.

I think that if you sum things up to the max, defining a project is basically defining what you want to do.  It's having the desire to create something.  The problem is not having this desire.  If you have this desire then the goal becomes to focus on the subject you desire to create.

Alain
« Last Edit: February 28, 2009, 03:07:55 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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David Sutton
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« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2009, 05:08:52 PM »
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Quote from: jerrygrasso96
But that said, the musician who wants to cut a CD must have to plan out his project at some point. Is it enough to just go back through the songs you have in you catalog and just put them together into a collection? Doesn't there have to be a theme or an organizing concept? Isn't there some sort of previsualization-like for the sound you are trying to promote?
No, I think you have it backwards. Let's go to the beginning. I can confidently say this to a prospective student: if you want to learn classical guitar from me with a view to recording or performing, then you need two things, the ability to work with me and the ability to get in ten thousand hours' practice. Then you will be there. I think this is probably fairly universal. I have found that in the process of practising, that one's own strengths and weaknesses emerge, the music becomes always previsualised before playing, and "themes and organising concepts" become clear well in advance of say, the decision to solidify them in to a recording. In other words, you have to be in it for the long haul and have patience. So you'd better be having fun.
Now, having said that, I'm probably not the right person to be giving anyone advice on projects, as I see I have 11,000 images on file and have printed maybe 20. Clearly I enjoy the process of taking photographs as much as getting a finished product. But in my defence I like to go in small steps. So I began with the aim of just getting properly exposed, composed and focussed shots, so I knew I could rely on that. This has been a challenge to say the least. And I wanted material to print before buying a wider format printer. Now I want to know about what makes a pleasing print: questions relating to visual unity, the paper texture, tonal range, sharpening and so on. Where do you go to learn this stuff? Reading this site has been a considerable help.
One thing I have found that opened doors to the imagination is joining some local groups. There is an Edwardian society here that run a fully functioning Edwardian house. So I set myself the task of producing a 1910 calendar for them each year from the previous year's shots of their activities. Each year the calendar is 1910 but the current year's dates. The activities don't change much from one year to the next, so I get to go back to the same locations, as you mentioned. And photograph whether I feel like it or not. (I have finally worked out how I can photograph a traction engine. May not sound like much, but you try it  ). Then I try to work out how to put what I have learned into my wildlife and landscape shots. I ask myself how I can reveal the "personality" of that scene or the soul of this little bird in my photograph. I feel I am being lead somewhere interesting. My own small thing if you like. BTW, I am intensely competitive, but I use that as a tool like any other, or the tail wags the dog. I keep it in check by trying to practise gratitude for where I am now, by making sure I enjoy the process, and by making sure I enjoy my day-to-day work as much as my "hobby". Have fun, David


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David Sutton
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« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2009, 10:02:25 PM »
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Edit: I don't want to take the music analogy thing too far. A western musician's performance is after all usually an interpretation of an existing work, whereas a strong element in photography is closer to the role of a composer. I'm mainly trying to throw up ideas that may help, and to point out that most of us have to find ways to stay with it and keep doing it for the long haul, whether it's photography or musicianship or composing. And this can be a really interesting process, particularly when we end up a little outside our comfort zones.
And, the question "where do you go to learn this stuff" was rhetorical. I don't know the answer to that. I ended up going to Wales to see http://www.allenlloyd.co.uk/ to find someone who really understood how to teach image editing.
David
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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2009, 04:35:48 AM »
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Quote from: alainbriot
A defining a project is basically defining what you want to do.  It's having the desire to create something.  The problem is not having this desire.  If you have this desire then the goal becomes to focus on the subject you desire to create.

Alain



Absolutely, Alain, and it follows precisely the sentiment expressed in the Terence Donovan quotation that I made six or seven posts back: motivation is key.

Rob C
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jerrygrasso96
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« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2009, 07:45:03 AM »
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Hey guys,
I really do appreciate the help and guidance. I am in one of those valleys after falling off my "molehill" of acheivements from last year.

David: I enjoyed the analogy to music. It is interesting that you say the role of the photographer is like that of a conductor. But doesn't that conductor start off with at least knowing in what direction to take that piece of music? The final arrangement may be the result of discoveries along the way. But just walking into the room, or finding that exotic location, is usually not enough to take him through the creation of a body of work? Also, I attended one of MR's Print One On One sessions, a full day with just me and him. I learned so much that day. And Michael was a great reality check and suggested many ways for me to enhance and develop and sharpen the fuzzy concepts I brought with me.

Alain: I believe somewhere in one of your articles, you said something similar, that the photographer must wear all of the hats from creator to promoter.

Rob: Life certainly is complicated. But maybe it is in this complication that keeps us interested, and perhaps, that is where the motivation can sometimes take on a life of its own. I believe I have the desire and the motivation, and, I guess, in time and with patience (not one of my virtues!) I will come closer to seeing a glimpse or two of the holy grail of direction.
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Chris_Brown
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« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2009, 10:02:21 AM »
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Quote from: jerrygrasso96
I really do appreciate the help and guidance. I am in one of those valleys after falling off my "molehill" of acheivements from last year.
Jerry, you may enjoy this video from Zack Arias. It's been a very timely, helpful short for many photographers, including myself.
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~ CB
jerrygrasso96
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« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2009, 10:50:11 AM »
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Thanks for the link, Chris. I enjoyed it! It was similar to this link.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2009, 12:39:43 PM »
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Quote from: jerrygrasso96
Alain: I believe somewhere in one of your articles, you said something similar, that the photographer must wear all of the hats from creator to promoter.

I did. Not just for photographers, but for entrepreneurs in general.  Even when you decide to delegate, you still have to know what to delegate and to whom, which is a job in itself, and another hat (the great delegator hat)!
« Last Edit: March 01, 2009, 12:40:19 PM by alainbriot » Logged

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mike.online
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« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2009, 08:38:39 PM »
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two things worth mentioning.


Sometimes I define a mood I want to convey, be it happy/sad, extreme/mundane before I head out, or while I'm out. That can sometimes help me change the way I frame things when I find something I like.

Also, I'm pretty limited to where I can get to, being without car for %90 of the year. So, I'll look at things as I walk around thinking about what would make my everyday scenes look interesting.... what light, what time, what angle... whatever. This lets the environment take charge, and I just put a new emphasis on certain things. I think the landscape can provide me with a platform for creativity.

I do a lot of night time stuff as well, and instead of thinking how I would light a space, it is often the building planners (or lack there of) that decide the lighting conditions. I then take the same approach, finding a creative way of expressing the urban landscape. Sometimes I'll throw in some light of my own to make things stand out more, but not often.


In summary, sometimes its nice to let the landscape come to you - react to what you see!
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alainbriot
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« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2009, 07:17:22 PM »
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Quote from: mike.online
two things worth mentioning.


Sometimes I define a mood I want to convey, be it happy/sad, extreme/mundane before I head out, or while I'm out. That can sometimes help me change the way I frame things when I find something I like.

Also, I'm pretty limited to where I can get to, being without car for %90 of the year. So, I'll look at things as I walk around thinking about what would make my everyday scenes look interesting.... what light, what time, what angle... whatever. This lets the environment take charge, and I just put a new emphasis on certain things. I think the landscape can provide me with a platform for creativity.

I do a lot of night time stuff as well, and instead of thinking how I would light a space, it is often the building planners (or lack there of) that decide the lighting conditions. I then take the same approach, finding a creative way of expressing the urban landscape. Sometimes I'll throw in some light of my own to make things stand out more, but not often.


In summary, sometimes its nice to let the landscape come to you - react to what you see!

I agree.  Personally, my landscape photographs are not only photographs of places. They are also photographs of emotional experiences of the landscape.  A large part of bringing this emotional aspect takes place during conversion/processing/optimization.  I know of no other way of doing it.  For this reason if someone asks me if I "manipulate" or somehow make changes to the original capture, my answer is yes.  If I did not, I would be doing something wrong because my interest is not in documentation but in sharing an emotional response.

"Turn to the many estimable books available on the natural sciences and history of the region if you wish to ponder the facts and grasp the realities.  The function of this book is to present visual evidences of  memories and mysteries at a personal level of experience.  Most such experiences cannot be photographed directly but are distilled at a synthesis of total personal significance; perhaps their spirit is captured by images visualized through the obedient eye of the camera."
Ansel Adams, in the Foreword to Yosemite and the Range of Light, 1979
« Last Edit: March 03, 2009, 07:25:52 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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