Recently I decided to retire a photographic project. It was a difficult decision to make. I have worked on the project for quite some time and have invested a lot of time and effort. But recently I have done less and less with it and consequently I haven’t been making much progress. I couldn’t get motivated to do anything further with the project, but I knew that it wasn’t finished. I didn’t want to force myself to try and complete it since I wouldn’t be able to put in the effort that it deserves.
In making my decision I wondered why I had grown “tired” of the project. I remember starting on it and in particular how excited I was. It bothered me that I now felt differently about it. In thinking through this I realized the following.
- When I started the project I never really set myself any goals with respect to when the project would be finished. Consequently I didn’t have any targets. It’s an old cliche but it is true that there is no greater motivator than having a target date by when to get something done.
- I never really decided what it was that I wanted to say with the project
- My thoughts and feelings regarding my photography have moved on
- The images that I want to create today and the things that I want to say are different than when I started on this particular project.
Today, whenever I start work on a photographic project I start out with an initial project statement that generally describes what the project is going to be about. Usually the first draft is little more than a jumbled set of ideas and some thoughts about how and by when I am going to complete the project. I will frequently revisit the project statement to refine it and also to see if it still stands true. Tweaking is something I do often, especially as I become more familiar with the subject. This process not only gives me direction in my work but it also keeps the project exciting. It is no fun retiring a project.
The images that accompany this post are from the project that I have retired.
When Polaroid announced that it was discontinuing production of PN 55 film I bought up every box that I could find and added it to my existing stock – most of which was already well out of date. Although the majority of my work uses digital processes I also enjoy working with a large format, film based system. Ironically, the Polaroid films still create finished images much quicker than a digital system.
The images that I worked on for this project used an integrated workflow that combined traditional, alternative and digital processes. I used my PN 55 negatives to create the cyanotypes on textured watercolor paper, which were then scanned before “finishing” digitally.
Who knows, one day I may revisit this project with the same passion that I had when I initially started work on it and pull it out of retirement.