Single photos are a lot of fun and up until a few months ago they were the only kind of photography I worked on. There’s no constraints to a single photograph. It can be of whatever, whenever, wherever. While this is a benefit I would say it is also a detriment. A single photo can only go so far in telling a story or sharing a feeling. You may find yourself captivated by a photo and as you move on to the next one, view something completely different, and that captivation is lost or shifted to the new one. Projects are a way to allow continuity, to explore an idea more in depth, to get lost for more than a brief moment in a single photograph.
Back in February, I began toying with the idea of a photo project. I had been fascinated by the colors that Panamanians used to paint their houses and felt like this was something worth capturing. A single photo would say “hey look at this vibrant color these people used to paint their house” and then the viewer would move onto the next photo and the meaning would be not only lost but also misunderstood. Therefore I felt that this theme was best captured by a photo project. In an attempt to learn a little bit before diving in, I made a quick visit to a few websites to skim articles on photo projects and then headed out. In the end, what I read really didn’t prepare me and just going out and taking a bunch of pictures is a much better use of time than reading lots of articles. (Oh hey I’ve written and article for you to read, the irony!)
After almost two months, I threw nine photos together into a 3×3 grid, called it Colors of Penonomé, Panama, and marked off the imaginary check box next to “complete a photo project.” It was a great first step moving beyond single photographs and I challenge you to find something that you are passionate about and explain it to the world using only photographs. I would suggest not getting too lost in the details. Set yourself a reasonable goal, such as getting nine good shots that explain your theme, or selecting key areas about the theme that you’d like to present. For example, if you’re working on cars you could photograph the car as a whole, the wheel, the interior, the dashboard, etc. Don’t get too worried on preparing yourself, paralysis by over analysis of your project is the worst!