Making a series
Lockdown, or, simply, staying at home, brings benefits. One benefit is certainly time. Time freed up from commuting, for example: I have ten extra hours per week, two for each weekday, rescued from the dreary reality of train journeys. (Although of course the commuting time was not spent starting into space but rather to read the news and relax to music (and drown out conversations of fellow passengers)). In any case, these months of staying at home have meant there is more leeway to complete small photography projects.
One kind of project that is interesting and flexible, and also doesn’t necessarily take a lot of time out of each day, is the series. By series, I mean the challenge of taking a photograph every day. In fact, some people have completed series of 365 days – a whole year, taking a photo every day. Shorter series can also be challenging. Taking a photograph every day may sound easy, but it can force the photographer to try new idea and techniques and thus is a good discipline and learning tool.
Here are some of the reasons a series could be really useful to try:
Having to take a photo every day, no matter how inspired (or uninspired) one feels, can force us beyond the amateur stage of doing-this-for-fun. By definition, hobbies are what we do when we feel like it, so committing to a photograph every day pushes photographers to be creative even when they don’t feel in the mood. Being committed to taking a photograph every day is that it requires that we think about the picture, and how to create a good image, every day, even if only for a few minutes.
Series work well when one chooses a theme. The theme can be about the subject, such as macros or nature. Or the theme can be about composition or exposure – diagonals, or wide angle; long exposure or natural light. Alternatively, a theme can be a feeling, or an object or set of objects. I made a recent series in the kitchen and, among other images, came up with some interesting fruit still lives.
A particularly challenging series can be to photograph the same object – image working on 365 different ways to depict a white coffee cup! And the creativity one would have to evoke, in order to complete this task. Fortunately, with a picture a day, you don’t have to think of all 365 angles in a single brainstorming session. There is time to let your creativity emerge. The beauty of the series is indeed the discipline – after the obvious images, how to create the next shot?
Works with the gear you have
You don’t need a special lens or an elaborate camera to shoot a series. In fact, a simple camera may help create constraints that draw additional creativity from you to complete the series.
Do try to make each photo interesting, but keep in mind the series is about developing creativity. Although one sees series as parts of exhibitions, these are developed with an eye to the impact on the beholder, or the message. This is a different part of the art creation process. Your series might indeed inspire you to show part -or even all- of the creations. However, the work of creating a daily photograph is about the discipline to create a new photograph every day.
To the right, is the beginning of my current series, experimenting with photographing a cardboard box. The first image is obviously less interesting, but already within a few days the challenge has evoked more creativity.
Give it a go yourself – a series for seven or ten or 365 days… see what you come up with!