Monday, January 1, 2018

Project 52: First Half

This is a (much) longer structure than I have ever worked with, so this is in a large part an effort to stretch myself out, to do something longer term. I'm also taking the opportunity to build in tasks that I know I ought to do, but tend to skip.

Treat the whole thing loosely. If you think a couple of weeks ought to be done in a different order, go for it! I'm just chucking ideas down, there's no secret recipe. This is just a list of tasks in an approximate order, chopped up so that even a busy person like me should be able to make a quick pass at whatever the week's work is. There are "fallow" weeks, weeks in which you explicitly leave it alone. While I think these are valuable, and I have positioned them with a little thought, you can also treat them as catch-up weeks.

I've laid out the first 26 weeks, and am pushing it out on Jan 1! Hooray for me.

As noted previously, this is structured as 4 quarters of 13 weeks each, with two fallow weeks in each. Thus, 11 weeks of "work" out of every 13. It starts out loose, gathering up stuff, and refines down to three potential projects in the first quarter. At the end of that quarter, you will discard one (or merge one with one of the others, or rearrange it all into 2 projects, or whatever). The second quarter will be spent refining the two projects in terms of concept and idea. The third will deal with design and sequencing, and end with the reduction to a single project.

In the fourth and final quarter, you'll finish the last project, and get it fully print-ready and print it. (or otherwise completed).

Without further ado:

First quarter

Week 1. Jan 1-7: Shoot, shoot, shoot. Anything you've been meaning to shoot, anything that catches your eye, things that bore you. Get out and press the button.

Week 2. Jan 8-14: Look over the output and throw out anything that won't be there in *some* sense for the next year. If you flew to the Grand Canyon, but won't be back, throw those out. Lump the output into rough categories, vague "project" ideas. (don't actually delete things, though, we'll come back to the discards at least briefly.)

Week 3. Jan 15-21: With your rough categories in mind, shoot some more. See if anything more shows up, see if the categories already devised bear more fruit.

Week 4. Jan 22-28: Re-evaluate and develop a handful of rough project ideas, refine them a little bit. Throw out anything you're not willing to go back to over and over. Throw out anything you still hate. Try to get at least a half dozen somewhat coherent ideas developed, up to perhaps a dozen.

Week 5. Jan 29-Feb 4: Revisit your list of projects and reduce it further, to no more than 6 and no fewer than 3, go out and shoot more of those. Reshoot flawed shots, shoot more material for the viable list.

Week 6. Feb 5-11: Take a week off to look at other work. A monograph, some fashion magazines, a gallery showing, the photos in all the coffee shops you can get to this week. Keep your own projects in mind as you look, try to find specific ideas you can steal.

Week 7. Feb 12-18 Fallow week.

Week 8. Feb 19-25: Go out again and shoot shoot shoot, just like week one. Set aside your project ideas and press the button. You'll probably be torn between "I must shoot only NEW things" and "I want to shoot more of project X" and that is OK. Do both.

Week 9. Feb 26-Mar 4: Look over all the material now, and see what pops up. You've recently looked at other people's stuff (week 6) and you're tried to open your own mind (week 8), revisit your list of project ideas and revise them, expand/focus them. Whittle the list down to 3 viable ideas. You might wind up with some "throwaway" ideas in there, which is OK, but you're required to pursue those with a will as well! Don't just focus on your one favorite.

Week 10. Mar 5-11: For the next 2 weeks, shoot for each individual concept. Never more than 1 on a single day. Go try to work those same shots again, find additional material, think over what you want to do, but just one project at a time.

Week 11. Mar 12-18: Continuation of week 10. Since you're restricted to one project per day, seven working days probably wasn't enough, so we're tying weeks 10 and 11 together, so you can get serious and put in at least one serious day per concept.

Week 12. Mar 19-25: Fallow week.

Week 13. Mar 26-Apr 1: Look over the work you've got for the three projects, and discard the weakest idea.

Second Quarter

Week 14. Apr 2-8: Go to an exhibition, look at a new monograph, dig through a stack of back issues of Vogue, spend a few hours online looking at a body of work you're not familiar with, Really take time with it. Read the catalog, read the back story.

Week 15. Apr 9-15: Write out a concept for one of your projects, the weaker one if there is an obvious weaker one. A few lines, a few pages, it doesn't matter. If you literally cannot get a sentence out, try some key words, a list of artworks that seem relevant. Try a poem, or a drawing. Paint something. Express the project's concept using any other medium, essentially. Push the pictures around while you do it.

Week 16. Apr 16-22: Shoot some additional pictures for that same project, and plan for what else you need. Do you need to wait for fall? Do you need to acquire some props? Hire a model? Make a plan to complete the concept.

Week 17. Apr 23-29: Revisit your project's pictures and concept, push things around and ask yourself what, if anything, has changed.

Week 18. Apr 30-May 6. Fallow week.

Week 19. May 7-13: Repeat week 14. Go to an exhibition, look at a new monograph, but with a new body of work. Find the back story, the concept, if you can.

Weeks 20-22. May 14-Jun 3: Repeat weeks 15-17 for the Other Project. Express the concept, shoot and plan, revisit and think it over.

Week 23. Jun 4-10: Fallow week.

Week 24. Jun 11-17: Repeat week 14 with yet another body of work.

Week 25. Jun 18-24: Revisit all you have shot, from the very beginning. Include the discarded material. Take at least a quick skim and see if it informs any changes. Is there previously discarded material you can use? Do you spot a hole in one of your projects? Do you see a new avenue to explore?

Week 26. Jun 25-Jul 1: Rewrite your concepts. Whatever medium you used to express the ideas in weeks 15 and 20 of this quarter, rework that.


  1. Srsly? Lots of luck with that!

    This strikes me as rather like planning this year's menus in advance... "Somewhere around March one of the kids will develop an aversion to green vegetables; substitute sweetcorn and carrots; try a multi-threaded dinner plan for a month (adults + kid1 + kid2 etc.) then despair and insist greens are GOOD FOR YOU and NOBODY leaves this table until they're gone...; In April, broccoli comes into season. Pizza?"

    As someone once said, "No plan of action survives first contact with the enemy. What matters is having enough material to blog about". May you never run out in 2018!


    1. You don't plan your menus a year in advance? How do you do your SHOPPING?

      Your point is noted, though. This thing is intended not so much as a menu plan for the year, but more as a reminder to keep eating regularly.

  2. Replies
    1. With all due respect, there's no "Or" about it. This sketch is all about spontaneity, together with the long grind to turn that spontaneous work into something coherent, complete, "publishable."