Before you start reading, just a quick heads up. Despite the title there are a lot of words and no images in this post. It's not clickbait, it's just my current thoughts about how I currently make images and how I intend to change that.
In the last instalment Cutting out the choices I spoke to reducing my choices of tools to help get over procrastination and getting back to making images. Having made a start on this more questions and thoughts have arisen that I need to tackle. I'm happy that this is a fluid process and tweaks can be made to help reach my goals. I like to apply a Kaizen approach to most things, making small continuous improvements, always learning and improving.
Talking of goals, what are they? I defined some SMART objectives for the 3 projects I've started. These are too produce some zines and prints that I'm happy with and some portfolio Trichrome images. These in and of themselves are entirely worthy, but there is also an overall goal that I want/need to tackle, do the work to manifest into existence and put out there so it's a thing... 😬
I've spoken about it in the past and it's my inability so far to take myself seriously as a photographer/artist/printmaker. I'm in no way unique in this but this is my problem to fix for myself in my own my way. So my overarching goal for these projects and future ones is to take myself seriously. It certainly won't be an overnight change of heart and mind and probably never entirely achievable but that doesn't mean I can't work intentionally towards it.
So how am I going to do this? Well, there's a common term used in many walks of life "Trust the process". Follow your defined process and if the process is good, you follow it well and if things go your way you stand a chance of achieving your goals. The trouble is I currently have a rubbish "process".
Expose some film of things that look interesting
Develop/Scan said film
Share images on Twitter/IG/...
All this in the same or next day usually and then rinse and repeat. The only thing I achieve with this process is sharing a load of images. Some that are ok but to be fair probably sharing a load that I shouldn't. All unintentionally and with no goal other than getting some "validation" that I can use film and produce images. 🤷♂️
With my defined goals in mind, absorbing other peoples thoughts and ruminating on a few things I've made some changes and one of them might rustle a few feathers... 😁
New project process:
Focus on specific images for defined projects
Collect a bunch of exposed film
Send off for development
Review images for project
Rinse and repeat as required until projects are "complete" and then share.
What one cotton picking second! Send your B&W film out? What the heck?
Why switch from developing your own film to sending it out? Well, developing your own film is part of A process. Part of being a film photographer who develops their own film. It's absolutely not a wrong thing to do. I enjoy it and the choices and experiments are boundless, but that's not my current goal. I want to be a photographer who makes projects that have a coherent theme. They might not be good, useful or interesting, but they are means to an end and that end is for me to take myself seriously as a photographer.
To my current way of thinking being serious as a photographer is about building bodies of work. Whilst tinkering and mastering parts of the process are important I know enough to know that it imparts only a small impact on the final work so it's more distraction than useful. Obviously I need to do all the technical things right but actually development is a small part of that and I can still push/pull if I ever needed to.
This change helps achieve a few things:
It provides a disconnect between the taking and making. A time to remove the excitement of when the exposure was taken and when the final image is made. This should help "focus" editing with the project goals in mind.
Project "costs". It's a very visible cost and again should "focus" the thinking about what images should be made for what projects. These projects should hopefully wipe their own faces with zine or print sales so it's an important factor.
It also "focuses" on the end result (zines or print) rather than than my current "process" of simply making images from film.
The next change (which needs testing) is switching from HP5 to XP2 for the Holga (and maybe other cameras). As a C41 process film XP2 is "allegedly" more forgiving to exposure control and handling different effective ISO on the same roll. If true this is super useful for the Holga. I wanted to use one film only for the Suffolk Towns/Holga project and picked HP5 for the flexibility. I then fell into the "choices" of how to handle bright days. Colour filters or ND filters. If I'm sending my film out I might as well take advantage of the C41 as I don't do that at home and try XP2 🤷♂️
By now you're probably very bored of the use of "focus" in this article. I don't apologies for that, it was intentional. The whole thing about this is about getting my lazy brain "focused" on doing the thing I want to do but always keep avoiding.
"Take myself seriously as a photographer"
The new process might not "fit" me, might not work or I might get bored. I don't know but I'll tweak it as I go and see how I get on with manifesting "I am a photographer" into existence 😁
Grist for the mill:
I'm always watching/reading other photographers content. It's a great way to learn and provoke contemplation of what you think/understand about yourself. After I posted the Cutting the choices article I caught up with some YouTube subscriptions and watched this fascinating video along a similar theme. If you don't subscribe to Steve O'Nions channel you need to fix that quickly 👌
An interesting article I read recently was Finding your own voice by Karl M Holtby. Again I think it speaks to a similar theme of thinking beyond technique and styles and working with what's appropriate for the project goals.
Costs for sending out 4x5 for development are steep so I won't be doing that and I also don't know anyone who would/could develop 7x17". I'll do those at home still and maybe any rolls I put through the Horizon S3 Pro. It's a bit a film chewer so probably best not to send those out either.
Tell me I'm wrong 😁
Let me know if any of this resonates with you, or if you think I'm wrong/mistaken/mad. How do you go about "managing" yourself into doing what you want/need to do.