Monday, 20 February 2012

Project 50 (A journey)

50 pictures, 50 days, 50mm f/1.4 lens.....

That was the target I set myself at the start of the year.  I didn't set any other criteria as I wanted to be able to take pictures of absolutely anything.  The reason for this was because I wanted this Project to help me better understand what it is I like taking pictures of.  I thought that by the end of the Project I would be able to look back on the 50 pictures and see a pattern, trend or genre jump out at me.  Oh, and I also wanted a set of nice pictures too !

The 50th day was Sunday, 19th February and I was kind of sad when I posted the final picture up into my flickr set.  It was the end of a journey in a number of ways, ok it's not a Project 365 or anything but it's still hard work coming up with a decent image each day.  During the project I had fallen behind a few times by either not taking any pictures on a particular day or not liking what I had taken.  This was easily fixed though by taking more pictures next time around.  In fact, I had a set of reserve images just in case I fell short at the end.

So, here I am with 50 pictures hoping they will direct me towards my next project and narrow down the type of photographs I like taking.  This is where it gets confusing so bear with me.  The type of photographs I like taking do not appear anywhere in my 50 pictures.   That's right, looking through the pictures I can clearly see that something is missing.  What I can see though are pictures where I have made use of the flexibility of the 50mm f/1.4 lens.  The majority of images have a very shallow depth of field which is used to highlight a specific subject in the picture.  Additionally, they are all taken in a way which enabled me to produce a square crop image after post processing.  So, the project has confirmed the fact that I love images with a very shallow depth of field.  I also like images where a single subject dominates the shot.  I also started to play with some processing techniques to help me develop a style.  This was really interesting and I have found a couple of areas to work on.  You'll notice a number of pictures have been de-saturated but not too much.

People, where are the people ????
I had to turn this thing on it's head to get some answers.  Obviously, the type of pictures I like are the ones I didn't take any of !  So how does that make sense ?  Simple....."Comfort Zone".  Something I need to get out of if I'm going to take my photography any further.

The Project failed in that sense because I didn't set any specific criteria.  By leaving the subject completely open I gave myself a back door, a way in which I could just take pictures (half decent ones mind) of anything .  So my sub-conscious was at work here making sure that I didn't have to step out of my comfort zone.  In fact, when you look at the pictures you'll notice that the vast majority where taken indoors.  I guess my sub-conscious didn't want me to get any fresh air or exercise either !

Time to put things right
While the Project was running I was flicking through a few photo magazines and books looking for inspiration for the next Project.  It occurred to me that in order to work out my favourite type of photography I had to analyse the type of pictures I like looking at rather than the ones I like taking.  The battle with my sub-conscious had started and I was already plotting the next project before this one had finished.  I would recommend a couple of books by John Berger;  "Ways of seeing" and "About looking".  I must admit it took me a while to get into them but there are pennies dropping everywhere.

This thread is going to go off on a huge tangent but I wanted to include this much in the Project 50 update as it demonstrates the kind of thing you can get out of a photo project.  Look out for my next blog detailing the new project.

So, back to Project 50
If you are looking for inspiration, a small project to get you out with your camera or just looking to improve your skills then I would strongly recommend doing a project 50 (or similar).  The rules are completely up to you so you can get as much or as little out of it.  The huge benefit you get is stretching your creativity.  Having to come up with a new and unique image every day certainly does that.

I hope you like the images and I guess if you got this far you were able to put up with my ramblings too.  I achieved my goals in a round-about sort of way and learnt a lot more about my photography and my comfort zone as well.

Here are a couple of mosaics showing all 50 images.  These were created with "Big Huge Labs" on Flickr.

The full set can be found here

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