In recent weeks I have been considering how and why my photography has developed over the past couple of years. In doing so I have come to appreciate the importance of projects. In this post I will write about a few examples and illustrate how they have impacted on my photography and how they might help you in the future.
The age old expression that ‘every picture tells a story’ may still hold true, but with millions of photos being uploaded to the web on a daily basis, via Instagram, Flicker, Facebook, Twitter (I could go on) ….. the world is now saturated with images. Whilst I still enjoy making and sharing ‘single’ shots’, my own feeling is that there is much greater value in a body of work which includes some form of narrative; hopefully a story contained within a set of images which makes viewing the work more meaningful and dare I say it, more pleasurable for the viewer. A story behind the image is far more difficult to achieve from just a single back lit picture viewed on a screen in the space of a few milliseconds, whereas a printed body of work is likely to hold the attention of the viewer for a longer period of time. These bodies of work may take the form of a panel, a photographer’s portfolio, part of an exhibition or published in a book.
Projects don’t have to be large and very time consuming – some can be accomplished over a weekend and consist of just a few images, but I do accept others can take months, years, or even be the work of a lifetime. Whatever their scale there is a sense of purpose to a project, and out of one project another may be born, all of which adds to the enjoyment and excitement. There is also much more satisfaction in the completion of a project as the time, effort, research, planning and thinking required is so much greater.
Let me illustrate this point by using a personal example. A couple of years ago I was inspired to start a project on Churches and in the intervening period I have visited many of these beautiful buildings, made photographs and shared them on this blog. After a while I began to think that some of the images I was making could form the basis for a panel of work which might be worthy of an Associate submission to The Royal Photographic Society. So out of one project, another project came about and in April I was awarded a Distinction. The ‘Churches Project’ is still ongoing although it has been a while since I posted anything on this blog. I have though recently created a Google Map plotting where I have been and pins to show the locations of churches I would like to visit in the future.
I also have another project this year – a public exhibition which takes place in November. I am one of a small group of photographers and we have called ourselves ‘The Image Circle’. Deciding what to exhibit was never going to be easy but last winter, on more or less a daily basis, I walked our dog around Chichester Harbour. I nearly always had my camera with me and took a few frames of anything which I found interesting. A project in it’s own right but initially I did not know where it might lead. Over a period of a few months I amassed a large collection of images capturing the landscape in all its various moods. It soon became apparent that I had the makings of a body of work from which I could select a series of images for the exhibition.
In preparation for the exhibition I would need to explore price and framing options, so earlier in the year I approached a local framer, Reframe of Chichester. I took along examples of my ‘Churches Project’ for the owner Terry Hancock to see. Both he and his wife Nicola liked this work and a few weeks ago they asked me if I would like to display a few of these photographs at an exhibition he was curating at their studios. I jumped at the opportunity, as this would be another, albeit unplanned project. I decided to show A2 size prints and these were soon passed over to Terry for framing. The ‘New Art of The South Downs’ exhibition concluded last Saturday and of the seven prints on display four were sold. Naturally I was delighted with this outcome. Its a strange thing but two totally different projects have somehow managed to come together in the most unexpected way. The whole process has also been an invaluable experience ahead of the exhibition in November.
I will finish by saying that this blog is now in its sixth year and I recently posted the 300th entry; an average of just over one post every week. Without me realising it, the blog is a project, with each entry arguably being a very small project in its own right. I will continue to share images in this way although I suspect the content may differ a little in the future. In order for my photography to develop further I believe I will need to spend more time planning, preparing and pursuing the projects I want to work on and I hope this will provide me with some interesting content for the blog in time to come. In other words prioritising what I do, but at all times making sure it remains pleasurable. After all this is my hobby, it’s not my job.