Why experiment? Short answer; To learn. The real question is what do you want to learn. You can obviously learn technical stuff. You can learn technique. You can learn what causes what, or cause and effect. Experimentation is all about variables and understanding them.
Understanding Vs. Manipulation
In my own view of photography involving human beings everything matters. There are infinite variables that materially affect what the images look like, what they feel like, what they say. Sometimes seeking to limit those variables to produce some desired result could be a good thing. In many cases learning to manipulate as many variables as you can to force the result down a narrow channel of possibilities is the goal.
In the case of the Black/White project a whole lot of experimentation has been to see how many of the variables I don't want to influence at all and the best way to avoid influencing them. Seems like the the exact opposite of why you'd experiment at first glance.
I could ramble on about what exactly I mean for weeks. I already knew before I started the project I wasn't going to manipulate pose. As in look this way, move your hand here, straiten this, bend that. I didn't necessarily know other things like if I was going to manipulate eye contact with the viewer/camera/myself. That can be done in subtle ways or overt ways. Working with Sam early in the project I decided I was going to go out of my way attempting not to influence that particular variable at all.
Take a look at the first frame I made immediately after Sam finished applying all the gear she chose to play with. Here's the frame right after that.
Not particularly my favorite photographs I made that day but these two lead me to experiment with viewer awareness a lot and how I could do that or make choices while removing my influence as much as possible — I went thru extreme measures I'll describe some other day in how not to manipulate that particular aspect. Turns out that is fairly easy not to manipulate in most of the black scenarios. It's far more difficult in the white parts
Experimentation Vs. Exploration
The entire project itself is an exploration. Exploration in unpacking bits and pieces of gesture and expression I've noticed through glances over a decade or more. An exploration of a metaphor for human nature and it's infinite complexity but at the same time universal familiarity. At least a tiny little slice of that. A visual exploration of the multitude of things each individual is made of and in many ways those things are contradictory.
All of the experiments are to figure out how to get out of the way of that exploration. Unlearning some things that were useful but are counter to this project. Re-learning other things that you already knew but may have biases toward one way or another and re-evaluating those biases.