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  1. #1
    ChristopherCoy's Avatar
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    Planning for Personal Projects...

    I love looking at collections, or series that other artists have created, but I have no idea how to go about creating one myself. When I made a trip to my hometown a few weeks ago, I decided to photograph some things that reminded me of home. As I developed the images, I noticed that it looked more like random shots of grandparents houses, street signs, and city hall, than it did the 'story' of where I'm from.

    For those of us without formal training, can some of you who do, give us a few tips or advice for planning out personal projects? How do you go about creating a collection of cohesive images? Do you create a story board, write down the ideas that you want to illustrate, or do you just walk around and happen upon images?

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    ROL
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    It can work any of the ways you've suggested, depending on your motivation, commercial or artistic. As a fine print artiste (), I only take photos of subjects that interest me. Because many of these subjects are ephemeral in nature (literally), I can never plan with certainty. So I generally edit images from "shoots" over a period of time, sometimes years, into logical, aesthetic, or emotional groups that tell a story – I give prints a personal spin or intimacy that defines them as unique (to me) work). Having a strong view (i.e., visualization) and love of subject is invaluable to the process.

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    Rick A's Avatar
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    It's as simple as picking a single item, say a mushroom, and going around loking for different forms of mushrooms, or toadstools(any fungi for that matter) and taking photos of them. My personal projects include stairways, mostly outdoor ones, and old country bridges. What interests you, then photograph it. An old project was to pick one outdoor feature, then photograph it once a month, preferably the same day each month, for 12 months. How does the feature change throughout the term of the project, what of the surroundings, are you using the same position, or moving around it? The possibilities are endless.
    Rick A
    Argentum aevum
    BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"

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    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy View Post
    I decided to photograph some things that reminded me of home.
    Though I am a landscape photographer, I have recently been taking ordinary everyday pictures.

    I look at photographs that remind me of a home that I can't go back to, and try to capture what I have today so that when I look back upon them in the future, they will do justice to my memory. For example, your grandparent's house, I assume you had to photograph it from the outside. But if you had a picture of your grandfather, napping on the couch with afternoon sunlight streaming in. And if that were a high-quality photograph. That would be what you wanted that you can't take now. So my simple suggestion is to take photographs of what you love now that will certainly change.

  5. #5
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy View Post
    I love looking at collections, or series that other artists have created, but I have no idea how to go about creating one myself. When I made a trip to my hometown a few weeks ago, I decided to photograph some things that reminded me of home. As I developed the images, I noticed that it looked more like random shots of grandparents houses, street signs, and city hall, than it did the 'story' of where I'm from.

    For those of us without formal training, can some of you who do, give us a few tips or advice for planning out personal projects? How do you go about creating a collection of cohesive images? Do you create a story board, write down the ideas that you want to illustrate, or do you just walk around and happen upon images?
    Think about what interests you. You may be walking along one day and find a tree bark with interesting textures. Spend the next 6 months just photographing tree barks under different lighting conditions and in different ways, again and again and again. Don’t worry about an end product, it may never happen. As you keep going, new ideas will develop and so on infinitum. Picasso never finished anything. The Journey will provide the results you are looking for.

  6. #6
    garysamson's Avatar
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    If you want to create a cohesive body of work, start by looking at monographs by photographers such as Sally Mann, Paul Strand, Joel Peter Witkin, Richard Avedon, Ralph Gibson, John Sexton etc. Identify a theme you are interested in exploring and start thinking about establishing a personal point of view in your imagery. Write a one page treatment of your idea or theme to clarify your approach. Good luck!

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    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Something that I believe in after many years of working with project based portfolios with different photographers is this..
    Photograph what you are interested in and know very well, after time and lots of film a story will emerge. this tidbit came from a very well known author on photography.

    My good friend started with 4x5 portraits of his patients, which led to a story , which lead to interviews and lectures, then to a 17 month Museum Show.
    Basically he is document something very close to him and through photography, changes peoples minds about his line of work... the project is called House Calls with my Camera.

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    SuzanneR's Avatar
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    Just make a lot of pictures... and when you think you've made enough, make more!! The idea of photographing home is a compelling one, and because you have a deep emotional connection to you, you'll start to see that in your pictures. Such projects, though, generally succeed after several years of work. Going back exposing a lot of film, reviewing your pictures, editing, organizing, sequencing, going back, exposing more film, more editing... you'll start to see visual similarities within the work, and will start to see groupings of pictures. Those that look interesting, then you might start shooting more with those in mind, or maybe you'll see a new direction in the images that might spark ideas for other pictures. Good luck!

  9. #9
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    Most if not all the series or projects I've had in the past decade have simply come from doing what interests me. The actual idea comes after noticing a pattern over time, and then you can refine it further. I am unconvinced you can just conjure one up from scratch.

    There's something to be said for curiosity, or for learning for learning's sake. Don't think of a result, just 'follow your joy'. Look back once in a while and see what you find out.

    My images of China, my street photography of my city's downtown area, the landscapes or scenic shots of the park nearby...all have come from simply saying "that looks interesting" and then going for it.

    Small children never make drawings thinking "it's got to be this or that" or criticizing themselves for it being 'good enough' or not...they just do it. There's something in that spirit for all of us.
    "Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes."

    MY BLOG - www.reservedatalltimes.com
    YOU SHOULD LOOK AT THIS SITE - www.colincorneau.com
    INSTAGRAM: colincorneau

  10. #10
    ParkerSmithPhoto's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChristopherCoy View Post
    For those of us without formal training, can some of you who do, give us a few tips or advice for planning out personal projects? How do you go about creating a collection of cohesive images? Do you create a story board, write down the ideas that you want to illustrate, or do you just walk around and happen upon images?
    The first thing I would do is decide on one camera, one lens and one film type, and thus define the technical parameters of what you are going to do.

    Sound restrictive? Too many constraints? Think of Keith Carter, Richard Avedon, Sally Mann and any number of other great photographers whose life's work was created by one or two cameras. In the case of Avedon, it was a square Rolleiflex and an 8x10, both with normal lenses. Sally Mann worked for years with one camera and one lens. Keith Carter created 25 years of work with a Hassy and an 80mm lens.

    While some photogs may choose different cameras throughout their careers, they usually use only one camera per project.

    I am completely against the giant sack of lenses mentality. Very few people can work that way and get anything done.
    Parker Smith Photography, Inc.
    Atlanta, GA

    Commercial & Fine Art Photography
    Portrait Photography

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