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The steps of a photographic project #1

The steps of a photographic project #1

What is a project and why we are working this way today ?

This article is the first one of a group of three in which we will discuss the making process of a project. In this first part we will try, in an introductory way, to understand what a photographic project is and how it is articulated.

Our first steps in photography deal with different aspects such as composition, lighting, color, and other technical elements that we want to solve and integrate. We are delighted when a photograph meets certain guidelines and we consider to have taken a good image. But this stage is used up and we look for new challenges.

© Iwan Shimko / Unsplash

Structure your photographic work

Once the parameters that interest us have been chosen, the next step would be to be able to repeat the same standards to complete a photographic series. Whether it is portrait or landscape, it should maintain a formal coherence that shows it as a unit. Once we are capable of resolving this we can take a little more risk and face a photo-essay. The photo essay is a set of images with a consistent style and a clear narrative intention. This may include text, as a footer or as an accompaniment to the images. The series and the photo essay are two basic units to structure our photographic work beyond the individual image. But the definitive step, and the one that corresponds to contemporary artistic channels, is to undertake a project.

To give a closed definition of the photographic project is not easy but we can try to get close to it. In a project we have an idea or a concept that acts as a common thread. This can be built on the basis of photographic series or it can be structured as a photo essay, including text and archival material from our research.   

© Denise Jans / Unsplash

Give a new dimension to your images

To build a personal project means to begin a path that, although complex, is equally fascinating. Briefly, once we have defined the idea or theme we wish to work on, we have four phases to tackle. A first phase of research, in which we must be receptive to variations in our initial idea. Then, there would be the phase of taking images, and the subsequent phase of editing. Finally, we have to choose the presentation format and the channels for its diffusion. These phases will be addressed more closely in the second part of this article.

In the artistic circuit, working by projects becomes the norm because it adapts to the processes of production grants or residencies. But, even if we are not in that situation, and even if what we face is a commission, working on projects prepares us to solve all kinds of proposals.

As part of a project, our photographs take on a new dimension. The project format requires us and allows us to give more space to what we want to tell or understand. It requires both, time planning, and planning of available and necessary resources. It helps us formulate questions, which is why research becomes so important. Photographs appear as consequences of the research itself to talk to us about the subject.

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