Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The power of projects

I've spent a few weeks now struggling with just what I'm doing with my photography. I've built up a reasonable level of skill with a camera and I think I can produce an interesting or at least competent picture in most cases. There's a whole world of things still to learn but I've got to a point where I can get something decent.
So then the next thing I'm looking for is what to do with this ? I've entered picture of the week contests that throw a new theme at you. These stretch me and let me explore new subject areas. While that's fun and can produce good one-off images, I always feel the results are a bit superficial and clich├ęd. The constant changing of focus never lets me really get in to a subject or explore it in a lot of detail. That's been fun for several years and has left me with a lot of good images, but nothing much cohesive or that holds a viewer's interest. They don't have much to say or hold them together.
I sent my three answers to a few photographers who I admire and the response so far has been pretty consistent. Hopefully, with their permission, I'll post some of those replies, but the constant theme was the idea of projects as the way forward. Pick a theme that interests you, any theme, and really start exploring it. Shoot a lot on the same subject, look at the results, go and shoot it again. Follow your passions - find the things that interest you and go shoot them.
I've tried picking themes and shooting to them before, but always suffered from the idea that the results wouldn't be good enough or significant enough. But I think I just need to get over that and go shoot some projects. But I also need to finish them. Set an end point, produce something that says that this project is done so I can start the next one. Otherwise, I'll keep starting and never finishing or learning from them. That end point can change for each set, but something concrete, a set of prints, a book, a web site. Just something that wraps it up. Not all projects have to have an end point, but I think for me I just need to start finishing things.