In the two previous articles, we have talked about the qualities of the photographic project and its different phases. In both of them, we have agreed on one point; the importance of asking questions to the project. In this third article, we are going to focus on those questions, because the way in which we interrogate our project will also define it.
The first question that we are going to address may be obvious to many: What is my project about? But just because we see the question clearly it does not mean that we have the answer. In fact, it is quite possible that there is no one single answer. We can think of a relatively small and concrete theme, or a broad and transcendental theme. This seems to condition us, but perhaps, there are some common points.
If we look at the way to approach a project like Maze, we see that Donovan Wylie’s project is about a specific place. In this case it is a prison, but its political implications are quite important because it is the prison where the IRA prisoners were held. On the other hand, Hiroshi Sugimoto has to travel all over the world to make his series Seascapes, which includes all the seas of the earth. They look like simple landscapes but he is talking about something as meaningful as memory, and the very concept of time. When we think of the Beach Portraits of Rineke Disjkstra we do not only see teenagers on the beach, we are witnessing a moment of change, with everything that this stage represents for the growth of a person.
They may seem to be projects with very different themes and whose execution moves away from each other. But there is one thing in common that interests us very much; they are all extremely methodical. This is because they have been concerned from the beginning with answering certain questions, both conceptual and formal. It is not only important to know what our project is about for us, but also to try to understand what consequences and implications the subject we are dealing with has for others. This will also give us clues to the formal issues.
Getting organized to take action
In the previous article, we talked about the importance of editing. It was the moment to decide, what do I want to make visible in the project? Answering this question means that everything we do must be in line with the answer we give. We must ask ourselves several questions. For example, how do I see my project in images? Are they going to be portraits, landscapes, or do I prefer to take pictures in the street? Am I going to need a tripod or a camera that focuses quickly? Do I visualize the photographs in color or in black and white? What kind of light do I need: hard, soft, artificial or natural?
We must also ask ourselves about the resources to carry out the project, both financially and in terms of time. How many days do I need for the shots? How many for retouching and editing? It is also important to calculate the costs of equipment, cards, film or travel.
All these questions help us to take action and turn our ideas into achievable projects. Having a good idea does not always mean getting it right. Ideas live better out of the head and they take shape when we start to work on them.