by julie posted March 26, 2009

I do have reservations about publicly stating my project ideas for sofobomo, but not for any reason like thinking that someone would steal them. I fully expect that however many good ideas I come up with, I won’t stick to any of them when it comes to the time. I desperately want to be able to think of something meaningful, multi-dimensional, that takes advantage of my photographic strengths and allows me to be able to maximise my actual shooting time by having it all planned out, but the sceond I commit to a predefined project, my muse scampers off into the distance.

But I’ve decided, anyway, to throw out a few ideas for two reasons:

– I might hit on something that I don’t necessarily use in that form, but it kicks off another idea that sort of forms along the way, which is how I generally work. It’s like planting seeds then leaving them to the rain and just seeing what grows.

– It might help to encourage others trying to think of their sofobomo project in that same way – not that they’d use the exact project, but it might give inspiration to something that works with their photographic strengths and way of working.

I suppose the other things I’m thinking about when I’m musing on what to do are questions like:

What do I want to get out of this?

Who is my audience – is it for me, or is it for me to communicate something to others?

How do I want to tie the images together – by subject, by idea or concept, by style or method of working, by location?

Do I want to split the book into sections or do I want the entire 35+ pictures to run on the same theme?

Do I want the presentation to somehow add to the project itself?

Do I want to include words or just images?

How personal do I want to make it?

Where do I want to spend my time shooting for the project – city, country, woods, mountains, gardens?

Do I want to vary the field of view or use that as a unifying theme – macro, wide, normal, telephoto?

What range of time do I want to spend shooting – lots of short bursts or one or two concentrated sessions?

These questions lead on to suggest more detailed questions – like a sort of imaginary flow chart in my head. An insight into my thought process:

Do I want to split the book into sections? 35 images doesn’t sound like much but when you”’re trying to tie them all together, if you”’re using a single subject it can easily get monotonous. What about splitting it up into sections? How many sections? Two, or 3 or 4 is enough. What could you use to split it into two sections? Day and night – black and white, dark and light, mono and colour, near and far, manmade and natural, big and small, old and new. Day and night might be good for a city centre based project. I’ve been thinking about shooting neon signs with the holga lens. Could I go back to the same scenes during the day, or would I be less specific about pairing them up? Would I split the book in two halves with all day shots together at the front and night shots at the back, or would I have them in pairs of one day, one night?

You can see how I’m homing in on a project using the concept of splitting the thing into two – thousands of other permutations of ideas are at the end of threads leading off from all the other questions, just by going through the same kind of thought process.

I am very concerned about being one dimensional. Picking something like a single physical subject can very easily get repetitive, and I really want to push this beyond just “spring flowers” or “net curtains” (much as I do adore them, especially the old, ripped ones in abandoned cottages with broken dirty windows and peeling paint… ahem) but I’d have to have skill beyond my wildest dreams to be able to pull that off without the 13th picture looking like “oh, wow, it’s another net curtain, would you look at that… yawn”. I need to give myself enough space to move around within the project so that I can indulge my whims because nothing kills motivation like being forced into too narrow a pipe. So, something like ‘day and night’ gives me scope for a range of subjects, enough that I wouldn’t get bored before I’d shot enough to whittle down to 35 (36 in the interests of an equal split) and it’s close enough to home that I can get out shooting for it on a good few excursions within 2-3 weeks, leaving me with a week for editing and processing.

I’m hoping this maybe did help someoene else trying to think of a project, by giving ideas not for projects themselves, but for the questions to ask to generate inspiration for their own ideas.

3 Responses to brainstorming

  1. I think it is good to share as much of the process as you feel comfortable with – the more the better really. Last year it really helped everyone to bounce ideas back and forth.

  2. It really sounds like you are well on the way having a great go and doing the SoFoBoMo book.

    You are quite right in thinking that as you start, new avenues will open up to explore and that is the best part of doing the book.

    Last year was such a learning and at times a little stressful that it was worth every effort.

    The one thing that I found the hardest was not the theme which just seemed to flow as I started, but actually trying to create a readable book that first told a story through pictures and then tied in with words. This is something I had never done before and as such always seems to cause concern until we start. As photographers we tend to be creative people and that creativity will always carry you through even when you don’t know where you are going.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Niels Henriksen

  3. Good thinking, especially this with cutting down ideas in counterparts, this way or that way. I think sections are good in the sense you can use them for the actual storyline. All images within a section can then be whatever I come up with, as long as they fit into the theme for the section.

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