With all the experiments for the black/white project what's written in stone? Good question, I ask myself that continuously and there are dozens of minor variations, thoughts, whims, you name it, that I waffle when putting any sort of stake in the ground. There are a few things I do consider final when it comes to project parameters.
Those parameters all have a common characteristic — they all have been there since I first started thinking about this project in the first place.
I've known that I want a diversity of contexts and backdrops. The only thing that's changed on this is that I've expanded what locations I have in mind. I probably have two dozen locations I need to explore, think about, consider, and match up with my longterm collaborators. the list keeps getting longer but strangely very few of my experiments deal with putting a context around any of the people I work with. For some reason I've procrastinated on this more than anything else.
I've known from the first inklings the black and white sides of the project will be mostly wardrobe driven. I've also had a feeling that I want that wardrobe to be extremely similar if not exactly the same in white and in black. I've always wanted a couture feel even if I don't have the budget for it, I'll fake it if I have to. I do want to throw in a few eclectic and subtle fetish oriented bits. So far I've not actually done this at all. Well I did once but it didn't work at all because the wardrobe didn't work at all.
I've tried to throw similar things together that were laying around but I did change one thing and added a new stake in the ground, written in stone through all of the experiments in process and approach. The wardrobe will be a collaboration mostly driven by each individual I'll be working with over the long haul. This makes a huge difference that I should have known.
So far I've worked with broad brushstrokes. Ultimately the next step is starting to figure out the right blend of subtle vs. overt. I also have a vague notion I may want to put a few contradictory statements into the same picture.
These are the things written in stone for the project. Guide posts if you will. The rest of it is a balance of keeping an open mind and letting things happen as they will. I've thrown a few things overboard that I thought were written in stone. I'm not completely bound to absolutely identical black and white wardrobe. That's too constricting and does not promote what I want to portray. In fact it can be counterproductive. Similar is better.
A few other things I didn't think about are also possibilities now that I never considered. Most of those were complete accidents or allowing myself open to opportunities. Some I've started playing with recently — like photographing two co-consperitors at the same time. I've only done this once by pure happenstance. It wasn't even my idea. It didn't work completely but is something that's on the table to see if I does work with a few change-ups.
This was a big question from the start. How much I would intentionally influence and to what degree. My strong preference was to minimize any direction and leave it mostly up to the people I am working with. The reason it was a question was the first few early experiments were with people I've worked with dozens of times. People I know very well. I had no idea if my lack of direction and skew towards documentary approach would work at all with anyone else.
Surprisingly that documentary approach is exactly what I want. So much so that much of the experimentation was figuring out how to remove my influence. So much so that I've gone way overboard in trying to determine unintentional influences. More on that another day.
For myself, this is just a checkpoint to see where I'm at. For anyone else working on longterm personal projects, I would love to hear how you balance things that are written in stone with keeping an open mind towards possibilities early in a project. This kind of things so far different than commercial, commissioned, or client driven work it's hard to compare.