Friday, December 29, 2017

'tis the season

This is that gruesome season when everyone is going on about the photo crap they bought themselves for Christmas (I upgraded from the J7200 Wündërkämërä to the J7201 and it has literally changed my life) and people are starting P365 or P52 projects. Professional click-hunters are developing programs for these things. You can download/subscribe/follow some dude's plan, and go practice using The Rule of Thirds in week 13 or whatever.

Well, I'm some guy who talks rather more than he knows, why don't I do one of these things?

I will!

Unlike the others, though, my goal is to devise a program for conceptualizing and developing a project from nothing to something finished over the course of a year, one week at a time. I don't give a shit about "try HDR" or "take a macro photograph", I care about ideas and how one develops them. The end result will be a book, a magazine, a hang-able show, a portfolio. Some coherent body of work, and a complete structure for it to reside in.

A caveat: I have never pursued a project for a year in an organized fashion, so this will be something of an experiment. But, generally, it will be "based on" my working methods, and with a bit of luck will help me to refine them for myself, as well as develop something worthwhile for myself. I will be attempting the program myself.

The general shape of the thing is to break the year into 4 quarters of 13 weeks each. Each quarter will contain 2 "fallow" weeks in which you are to do nothing, I will schedule these where I think best but you may also use them as catch-up weeks. The goal is not really to prescribe a task for each week, but to shape the general course of work. If you elect to skip a week, or to re-arrange the work a bit, that's fine. Or you can follow along slavishly.

What follows is an approximate syllabus, to be expanded later. I will try to get the whole thing sketched out in the first week of January. The task for week 1 is clear, though, and it is to get out and press the button a lot. Shoot more or less at random, things that interest you, things that catch your eye, things you've been meaning to shoot, things that bore you. We'll take it from there.

First Quarter

In the first quarter we will initially develop a modest heap of vague ideas, and refine that into three coherent project ideas or concepts. We'll shoot a lot of material for them. In the end reduce that list of three by one. The aim here is to shoot, repeatedly, to get back out there over and over, to refine ideas into larger concepts, and to end with two really decent, coherent, ideas with a bunch of material for each.

Second Quarter

The second quarter will be devoted to filling out the two viable projects that remain, shooting interstitial material, looking for opportunities to expand or to refine. We'll take some time looking at other things other people have done, looking for ideas and inspiration. Some rough stabs at design and sequence somewhere in there.

Third Quarter

In the third quarter we'll end by finally selecting a single project. On the way we'll be doing more design and sequence work, which is likely to turn up yet more shooting that needs to be done to fill in and complete things. We'll be looking at other work specifically for design ideas to steal. At the end we should have two projects that are definitely complete-able, and mostly "done" in some sense. Those last trivial bits of work should easily consume the last quarter, it turns out.

Fourth Quarter

We'll knock out one of the two at the end of last quarter, and get on with the last one. Time to complete sequencing and design ideas, do some layout, and finally press print some time in December.


  1. Great idea! I'm in, although I am not completely sure whether it's more some kind of idea than a SMART plan.

  2. "I care about ideas and how one develops them."

    Me to! However, as I sit out the subzero days and nights we're having weeks of right now where I live, I'm reminded that any year-long project must involve activities appropriate to their scheduled season. Thus I plan to follow your path, just one quarter later than you have traversed it, giving me the advantage of learning from your experience, I hope.

    In any case, lead and we follow.

    1. Genius ;)

      Of course, taken to the logical limit, you will forever be starting next quarter and, like Alice Through The Looking Glass, you will have to run at least twice as hard if you want to get anywhere!

  3. Better would be one project and printed result each quarter. Keep it light and nimble. A year is too long to work on one thing. Keep moving.

    At least that’s my plan.

    1. That is definitely the way I have done things, this is in part an effort to get myself to slow down and do some of the work that I have been skipping in the rush to get to the part where I press Print.