I’d like to present a simple project I’ve embarked on since the beginning of this year, and I’d like to believe it could prove inspirational to a lot of other photographers too.
It all begun from the realization that I didn’t get to see my photos printed as much as I’d like. Since I’m old enough to remember when we only had film, I’m sometimes nostalgic of the times we used to eagerly await until our film was developed, and we had prints of our photos in our hands. The old adage was, and in a lot of ways, still is, that “it is not a photograph until it has been printed”.
The other inspiration was an article by The Online Photographer (a blog I follow for a long time), called “One camera, one lens, one year: the digital version”. This was a (digital) follow up to the original “The Leica as teacher” article, in the same site.
You can read about these excellent long term projects in the original location; suffice to say that combining the two, in a sense, gave me the basic guidelines for my own project.
There are several differences to the methodology: for example, there is no “one” of anything involved, with one exception. In fact the basic practices that remain the same are frequent shooting and printing one photo per day. I’ll proceed to describe the method below:
1. The project has one year duration, but it takes (like the original OC/OL/OY concept) 13 months to complete. More on this later.
2. You can use photos taken with absolutely any camera. Apart from my Fujis I have also used compact digital cameras, film cameras, even my smartphone.
3. Try to shoot out of your familiar/ordinary genres. Of course don’t try to learn doing an entirely new photographic genre, but try to explore some other styles than the ones you shoot regularly, or are your professional specialty. For example, if you mainly do weddings, try to shoot some street or some macro. If you’re primarily a studio shooter, try to get out and shoot a few landscapes or cityscapes. It’s best to have a camera with you at any time, since photo-opportunities present themselves out of the blue. Photos of pets, family members and other “casual” daily snaps are OK. Don’t try to make this too technically involved.
4. You must try to shoot something every day, at least for a few minutes. But it’s ok if you miss a day or two here and there. The point is to make enough “printable” photos during the week. On the other hand, don’t limit your shooting to one or two days for each week. Do your best to stay consistent.
5. You have to print one photo for each day during this project. So in total you’ll get 365 photos. Please avoid including photos of your “regular” shootings. As I said, technical excellence is not a goal here; we are trying to take pictures that we’d like to see printed, regardless of their artistic value or originality. In short, chill. You are doing this for your own pleasure
6. After one week of shooting, gather your “best” shots for this week (again, see above for what “best” entails). I’d suggest not more than 15 photos for this initial selection. Of course, 7 would be the minimum. Save the photos in a relevant file folder and don’t look at them for the next month.
7. You start to print one month after the beginning of the project. So, your first printing would be in the 5th week on. This is done for two reasons. First, this gives time to distance yourself from the shooting timeframe, thus making final selection more objective. Second, if you shoot film you’ll probably need some time to complete development and scanning (this doesn’t apply if you can develop the film fast enough yourself, but you still wait one month). In regards to film shooting, if one film spans more than one week, you select frames shot at the specific week.
8. After selecting the 7 photos for the week in question, print them out and have a look at them. Hold the prints in your hands and feel the magic of seeing your work in hardcopy. You can have the photos around; put them where you can see them, until the next week, when you again print photos from 4 weeks prior to that. Then archive the prints in some type of box. It’s a good idea to number them also. You won’t look at these prints again until the end of the project.
As far as printing goes, there is a considerable degree of freedom. You can print on your regular desktop or photo printer, or you can have a shop print them for you. Since this is a yearlong project (365 prints, remember?) I’d advice against larger prints. The cost, as well as the bulk, would be considerable.
I personally chose a postcard type format, because it’s what reminds me most of the old, film-era printed photographs. I could just as easily choose a Fuji Instax printer, but I preferred the larger print size over the small Polaroid format. This is why I’m using a Canon Selphy printer myself; should Fuji had a printer capable of printing their larger instant film, I’d prefer to use that instead.
I believe this project, along with any changes one may decide in order to personalize it, could be useful in getting out of a rut, for photographers of every level and discipline. It will also help to see and evaluate your photographic work in a whole different light. As always, any comments, ideas, suggestions and criticisms are more than welcome.
Now let’s go make some prints!
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