Tuesday, October 18, 2011

5 Ways a Project Can Jumpstart Inspiration

Once I feel drawn to a subject, there's the potential for a project.

A project can take as much time or as little time as I want.
It can be a single shooting session (e.g., photographing a subject from many different angles and perspectives).  Here's one shot from a series I did of an animal skull hanging on a friend's porch.

It can entail several days or seasons (e.g., photographing a subject under different lighting and weather conditions).  I've been returning to this wooden fence in my backyard every few weeks to catch the shadows as they change with the seasons.

It can consume a lifetime (e.g., photographing the same subject or theme in every place one travels).  I enjoy photographing people taking pictures of people.  Here's one I took in Las Vegas.

Whether a project entails an hour or a lifetime, it can get our creative juices flowing when we engage in it.  Here are five ways it does that.
  1. New ways of looking at something familiar ... More than a casual encounter with a subject forces us to find the extraordinary in the ordinary
  2. Discipline of attention ... We have to focus on what's inside of us as well as what's in front of us.  We pay attention to our emotional responses to the subject, the feelings that arise.  We ask ourselves, "What is it about what I see before me that causes that response inside me?  How can I capture that in an image? I felt this before. Do I feel it again? "
  3. Articulation of vision ... What unifies the way I look at the world? Is there a constancy in how I express the way I see my subjects?
  4. Creative diversity ... Returning to the same subject forces us to drink deeply from the waters of our creativity.  Having travelled many roads on the same journey, we are freed to venture down even more paths.
  5. Exploring new media ... Repeatedly revisiting the same subject can propel us to try new ways to present images to our audience.  Some photographers learn video production.  Others experiment with prints on non-paper materials like fabric, aluminum or wood. Some try combinations of media.
Focus, determination, consistency ... these are ingredients in a recipe for success no matter what the enterprise.

If you want to further explore this topic, here's a link that will interest you. In a recent posting on the Luminous Landscape website,  author and photographer James Martin expands on this by looking more closely at how a project unfolds.  He draws from personal experience, having produced 20 books.

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