Isn’t it about time you started something?
So, welcome to 2012, and what a year it is going to be. Announcements from all of the makers about new products and all that jazz, but for me the most important thing at the end of the day is using that equipment. Sometimes you need to have a little bit of discipline and a project could just be the best thing for that.
A lot is spoken about projects and it seems like every new year loads of people say that they are going to do a 365 or something like that. But you need to be a bit more focused than that. So, here are a few tips that can help you put your project for the year in place.
1. Choose your direction
And stick with it! It is not good saying you are going to do a 365 project and then just randomly taking pictures. Anyone can do that, including my dog (if you strap a camera to his paw). What are you going to do a 365 on? Selfies? Portraits? HDR (please for the love of god no)?
Think about what you are going to do your project on. Get some books, study some photographers, read something interesting that influences you. These things will help you to come up with a firm idea of what you will do. And it doesn’t have to be a 365, you can just do a weekly or even a monthly project. Be realistic about the amount of time you actually have. Some people have grand ideas about taking pictures all the time but the reality of this is that it is not always possible.
Choose what medium you are going to use and stick to that too. If you mess around with loads of different styles or equipment you are going to have all kinds of different images, many of which would not be suitable. Choose your gear, choose your style and stay with it for the whole project.
(Wanna do a one camera, one lens? Good, then remember, you cannot change, so make sure it is working well.)
2.Write it down!
This is a really important thing for me. If you have an idea of what you want to do then write it down. Put it in a mission statement or into a title or something, but make sure that you do as it will really help you.
If you have it written down then you can come back to it later when you are struggling for inspiration, and remind yourself as to why you are doing it. You can also see how your project is evolving, as evolution for a project is not a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t become something different. If you stick with your project, you can use the evolved ideas for a follow-up project. See, projects spawn projects. Brilliant!
3.Don’t give up
Sometimes you are going to feel down and despondent about your work. This is natural and something that can be overcome. There are lots of ways of doing so. Books are possibly the best way to do this. Photobooks can give you the boost that you need to get out there and shoot. Your mission statement should also help you, read it again and remind yourself why you are doing this. Review your work so far and find out what you want to see more of, and make sure you get out there and get it. Sometimes it is hard to have the motivation, but if you can forget everything else and remember that you take pictures because you love to then you can get up and go.
4.Don’t waste time
If you have set yourself a project that isn’t a 365 project then you need to give yourself an accurate timeline, otherwise you may find yourself either drifting along prevaricating or never actually getting around to finishing the project. Make sure you know how long you have and give yourself a schedule. And be strict with yourself, no messing about.
You are your own worst critic, but you are also the best. You need to be tough about your images. Don’t post them immediately. In fact, don’t post them until you think that the project is complete. Sit on them for a while, a few months even, and study why you like them. Build up your image collection and then, finally, when you feel the project is complete, release the project.
Flickr is not your friend, nor is google plus. They are great social networking tools, but you are rarely going to receive serious critical appraisal on either. You are the one that is going to have to figure out the images that are best, so make sure you take your time to do it correctly.
Armed with all of this info you should have no problem in putting something together. It doesn’t have to be grandiose or complicated. It could just be portraits of your neighbors or your family. But stick with it and you will see how you improve and how your style becomes more defined.
Good luck and happy shooting.
Ps. Comments are free and more than welcome.