Thursday, May 26, 2011

Further On The Value Of Projects

Another advantage of doing projects is that we tend to get better with time. Not only was Pepper # 30 Edward Weston's thirtieth attempt at a pepper, he'd also been working with a variety of other vegetables and shells. Although his other vegetable images do get included in shows and books, it is the single wonderful image that many consider one of the greatest photographs ever. So it would appear that even though this was part of a project, it's ok to come out the other end with a single iconic image.

Given a choice between being known for 20 mediocre images vs. one great one, I think most of us would vote for the one great one, in the hope that having made one, it wasn't a fluke and we can do it again, eventually.


Joe Lipka said...

I still wonder if there was a Pepper #31. You never know if it's the best one until you are finished with the project.

Sandy Wilson said...

Well Joe as a matter of fact on thumbing through the Taschen Icons book on Edward Weston there is an Image titled "Pepper No #35". So he obviously continued the project and the series on peppers after "Pepper No #30". Although like George I have to agree that "Pepper no #35" is not a patch on "Pepper No #30" So there must have been more Pepper images between #30 and #35 that have got lost along the way.

Markus Spring said...

Re. the value of projects: I think they are comparable to assignments of a commercial photographer, forcing us to consider our possibilities of visualizing a certain idea/theme/topic/product.

So for artist/amateur photographer, the project makes a good focal point to develop vision and skills. I could imagine that this also was Weston's way of achieving his nobel prize in peppers.

peter v quenter said...

As I just now come across your 'project' discussion-thread it urges me to add my bit ... if for no other reason than to possibly clarify in my own mind - please allow -
A while ago I had listened to Brook Jensen's podcast on that very topic; with much interest, as I usually tend to do as Sandy does, go out and find and be found by images as they present themselves - there is some sense of hesitation to walk amongst possibly countless fabulous possibilities for worthy image-making whilst constraining myself to a pre-determined project-for-the-day, for example -
kind of a fear of missing something because of being focused and pre-occupied with a project -

Yet, it is also quite clear that such creative 'constraint' can and has resulted in focus, invention, and discovery of image possibilities that otherwise would likely have never been materialized, simply because of that focus and more lengthy exploration -

Considering the various comments so far on definitions and approaches, and the seeming reality in my own walk-abouts, it appears that, even without precisely worded- and specifically outlined projects, maybe most of us do have some kind of thematic coherence in the kind of images we create/look for/find -
Example: I currently live in walking distance to a Marina on Lake Ontario; images of boats - night and day, in rain and sun, summer and winter - are certainly a loosely ongoing theme without having defined it as a specific project; nevertheless, such images do accumulate gradually - and the same goes for images of textures, botanicals, trees, architectural abstracts, etc ... none of which I would consider actual projects, though -

Maybe the differences between 'projects', 'themes', 'portfolios' are more subtle in that, (I am making assumptions), many of us love all kinds of photography and we end up carrying with us on our daily journeys of visual creation a whole lot of more or less defined project ideas, portfolio ideas, thematic explorations in the back of our minds -
all of which can and usually do lead us to satisfying imagery and results -
I, too, wander purposelessly and contemplatively and have satisfying images ... clearly, projects are not a right or wrong or better than -

Still, there remains that sense of so much more potential to be found when adding the project approach to the repertoire - yes, maybe that's it: considering the 'project' simply as another tool, added repertoire, yet another experience to enlarge the camera-"work" by the immersion into the depths and intimacy of a subject, theme, or portfolio -

... thanks everyone for clarifying

Alright then, time now to tackle some specific and defined real project for the next level ....

peter quenter