photography

Call A Plan A Guess

Pulaski, Michigan

Pulaski, Michigan

Jason Fried at Signal vs. Noise:

Busting your ass planning something important? Feel like you can’t proceed until you have a bulletproof plan in place? Replace “plan” with “guess” and take it easy. That’s all plans really are anyway: guesses.

As my old boss used to say, plan the work and work the plan.

But I take the same approach to planning as I do for traveling: set up the ground rules and structure, and then let real life interject – as it always does.


A Kick In the Butt

What's True Is A Life

I’ll admit that getting going with new creative projects has been a challenge lately. With the move, and the new baby, it’s been hard to think and plan about doing a big new thing.

“Inspiration,” as most people understand it, doesn’t help. I don’t need to look at other photo projects, or read quotes from famous artists. None of that will help me take a step forward. It’s not how I’m wired. Inspiration, for me, is just a bunch of ideas.

But this morning, on the drive into work, I felt a spark as I was listening to Bill and Jeffery on On Taking Pictures. It wasn’t anything concrete, or the subject matter, or even their mood. I think it was just listening to two people talk about art and creativity that made me feel better about my situation. That little creative fire inside me that’s been so weak the past few months got a little brighter. I can’t explain exactly how it lit back up, but I guess it doesn’t matter.

What I need is a kick in the butt from time to time, not inspiration.


Photographs Just Happening

No One Will Go

Johnny Patience on his 365 project:

All of my photographs during the year just “happened”. Nothing was planned in advance. I was able to capture them just because I brought my camera with me everywhere, every single day. And sometimes, because I felt brave enough to ask a complete stranger for their portrait, and I didn’t get chased away.

Planned versus unplanned. Project versus un-project.

This idea of the 365 project keeps coming up, because I’m starting to see it as a worthwhile challenge to any creative person. “Discipline and constant work at the whetstones upon which the dull knife of talent is honed,” says Stephen King. Keeping at something, day after day, is intrinsically rewarding.

But what about a planned project versus a project like Patience’s? Bill Wadman, for instance, is doing 365 portraits this year. It’s a project with a set of restrictions: pictures of people, with Wadman’s new-ish medium format camera. There’s a schedule to set and people to line up. There’s structure.

Patience’s project – “capture real moments and make memories, to tell about the good and the bad times” – is a rambling, take-it-as-you-get-it 365 project. He takes the world, day to day, exactly as it is, and lets chaos and randomness dictate his project. Apart from one camera, one lens, one film, there’s very little structure.

My preference? One of each, which is my goal this year.


Saturday In the Park

We wait all winter for days like this: sunny, decently warm, fresh breeze blowing.

In our new neighborhood, we’re surrounded by parks and playgrounds. Sparks Park – kind of Jackson’s own Central Park – is a block or two away, and we have several schools in the street next to ours, lousy with playground equipment. Our old neighborhood was very walkable, but it’s nice being so close to all this fun.

Now, when we go on walks around the neighborhood, the kids beg to go to one of the playgrounds. I have a feeling we’ll spend a lot of time here.

And that’s great. For today, we’re just happy to be outside.