Monday, November 03, 2008

where do ideas come from II

bench

Instructive podcast from Brooks Jensen on the need for single images. He talks about how project ideas tend to come from those single images. This has been something I've been rolling around in my head so it is timely to hear these thoughts from Brooks. (an interesting synchronicity right there and this is something I'll come back to in later posts)

So rather than trying to conceive project ideas in a vacuum or as an intellectual exercise, go shoot, shoot, shoot. Make those single images and follow the interest. At the same time, pay careful attention to any common themes or ideas that tickle your imagination. Then persue those threads of images and work hard to create related work. Turn the singular good images that spark your imagination into projects. Find the inspiration from the images you already make. This might be a more fruitful approach.

3 comments:

Mark said...

For those of us who shoot anything and everything, hoping for inspiration anywhere, this process would seem quite difficult.

Plus I'm not yet certain where my own tastes lie. I think I should be doing something in photography that I enjoy and not simply because I can do something.

Now I'm worried I'm not even making sense.

Gordon said...

Hi Mark, thanks for the comment. I think I'm coming at this from a place of being dissatisfied with good single images and looking for a bit more meat to my photographs. I'm trying to work in the idea of project based photography and struggle with it a bit. I think it is the way I need to go but I don't quite know how to get there.

I can define my tastes pretty easily in a long list of things I don't like. But I find it harder to flip that and define what I like - rambling in this blog is part of trying to identify that I suppose.

Made sense to me, at least.

For a short while I dabbled in stock photography and made a few thousand dollars shooting things that at first I enjoyed and then later felt might sell. It was amazing how quickly that pulled all the joy out of taking pictures. I contemplated starting playing golf again as a hobby as photography became a chore.

Andreas said...

First of all: Wow, what a fine image :)

I think different strategies apply to different people. What works for me won't necessarily work for you. Still, there is nothing more inspiring than simply going out and taking photographs. Plans and strategies, projects, that's management talk and computer people like us tend to be especially vulnerable in that regard.

Art can not be planned, at least not in its inception phase. Art is a way of exploring the world, present, past and future, and in order to explore, we must go out and ... explore.

Personally I am too busy producing single images for my daily blog to care much about projects, and even so, they tend to emerge. At the moment I have really trouble not always shooting bicycles. Over time they began to fascinate me for their omnipresence, for their various styles and conditions, their colors, their straight lines, circles and ellipses. One day there will be a photo book of my bicycles, but it is not a project that I actively pursue. There will be a time when it will feel good to make it, and then I'll do it.

What's a project? Well, if I needed one, I'd consider going to a place in my city, for instance a market place, in any case a place where people work, people come, people go, all day long, and I'd stay there for a complete day. Think of a flea market, a country fair, any kind of parade, whatever. Use that as the bracket that holds everything together.

Basically that's what makes a project: a kind of coherence, some sense of those images belonging together. This need not be strong, it may be vague and loosely defined, but something should be there to make it enjoyable for its audience.

One more distinction is important, and that is whether you do it to make your living or as an amateur. I do work hard to produce my images, but as an amateur, the notion of working hard to extend emerging threads and actively turning them into projects, in a way to force things, strikes me as a fine way to lose my joy in photography. Things happen anyway, no need to force them. I have no milestones to meet, no customers to satisfy within a certain time. I have freedom and inner peace instead.