More On Exploration


I have a much better idea of how I want to approach this project after all the experiments. Even so I've not started in earnest making images for what I envision as the final output. I've discussed embracing failure before, it's part of the process and shouldn't be discouraged at all on any sort of personal project. If I'm not failing I know I'm not trying hard enough.



Two Types Of Failure

There are a couple kinds of failures from my point of view. Let's categorize these as the epic type. The kind that result in unusable images. Plain old bad, from your own point of view as most likely the vast majority of people who might ordinarily possibly like what you were trying to do. Within these are all sorts of subcategories; Bad concept, bad execution, whatever. These are okay with me, it's a good sign that at least I'm trying. Depending on your state of mind they can be a bit hard to digest, especially when you are trying hard. Doubly so if they are not mere technical accidents or oversights.


The second type of failure in broad categories are much more difficult to detect. These are images you really love but just do not work in the context of the project. When looking at everything I've experimented with for the white side of the Black/White Project I realize that's what I am struggling with the most in terms of approach. At this point I want a similar feel as I get with the black side and I'm having difficulty pinning that down.

Reviewing a lot of what I've done with that side of the project some of these type two failures are easy to recognize and sort thru. A great example are the very abstract photographs I made with Tricia. It's clear they don't work at all for the project. I even tried it again with Holly. I like a lot of those experiments, just doesn't work for this project. I realized the struggle I've had with a lot of the white side is because a lot of the experiments have had a mixed bag of images. What's worse is that a few of the images that don't work may be my personal favorites from that group of work.


All of the photographs so far are exactly that type that is hard to sort out. I love them, they just don't work for the project. Many of my previous explorations of the notion of fragments for the project that I really like are very similar and some of my favorites. Other images mixed in with those do work for the project but just happen not to be regarded as highly on a one-off basis. For myself this is just one part of the editing and culling process that is so very difficult for me.

The Challenge Of Longterm Projects


Take this with a grain of salt and adjust for your own inner demons. Sometimes the way forward on any one particular project is not working on it. Sound's counter intuitive but in many cases it's not. I realize that might fly in the face of one big challenge — putting in the time. On the other hand if there are things that pop out of work you are doing on one project that you just love or find yourself drawn to there are a few choices.

  • Ignore it and move on. Why? why would one do this? At the very least save it for another day. The important part is recognizing it and it's complete irrelevance to what you were going for in the first place.
  • Mutate what you are working on into something else. Sure go ahead, maybe you aren't that interested in where you started. If you are then this is a really bad idea and usually turns into force-fitting things you like and are interested into a place they just don't fit. Both the original intent will suffer and so will the other stuff. Best case is that both are diluted.
  • Sort all that stuff that interests you and like into it's own project space. Work on that. In many cases if it has you distracted in a way that you keep coming back to it one way or another than in a lot of ways working on that instead of whatever mission you though you were on can actually help with your original concept. Get it out of the way, see where that goes. It' might not be any kind of longterm project. In many cases it's not.


Overlapping Agendas

I had a lot of plans last weekend. All of them related to working on the Black/White project. Guess what; None of those happened. I did work on the project but not even remotely close to what I planned on doing. The images in this piece are something I did instead of working on the project. I took what I saw that I liked from a bunch of the fragment experiments and worked just on that with no notion of making them work for the original project idea. I even used strobe.


Instead of a mixed bag I made a bunch of images I really like but don't work for the Black/White Project proper. Sure there is overlap. So what now? Easy, it's an off-shoot. A separate project. Most likely it's not a long-term project that will take a ton of time or thought process at this point. Maybe I'll make ten or twenty prints and be done with it. Nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it's a good thing to take work that overlaps with other work and get it out of your system while actually producing something you want to do as a side benefit.

End Notes

All images made with a Fuji XT-1 and the 18-55mm XF. Lighting via studio strobe. Processing via LR CC and VSCO FILM05 BW400CN on import. I published a small gallery of these over on if you want to see a few more.