Musings On Long Term Projects

Editing (as in making selections) for long-term projects can be far different than the same process for one-off pictures or one-off subjects. In fact for longer-term projects maybe it should be different.

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TLDR;

I wrote about the discovery of a subconscious pattern in when I decided to release the shutter a while ago. The surprising thing to me was how consistent this pattern was and how evident it was given that every circumstance it was the most fleeting of moments. That's part of what made it evident. Part of long-term photographic projects is about discovery and exploration. Everything I wrote back then, before these particular setups became the Fragments side-project.

I decided to take a look at the Fragments project again long after the discovery of my pattern and reverse it a bit. Maybe more accurately see what happened after that discovery as well as patterns across my collaborators.

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Assuming that the goal is a collection of images in the form of a book, print show, or online collection of curated work selecting one-off favorites independently from each time you produce material is not necessarily the best way to go about curating a project. Looking at your own patterns and patterns within your particular subject might be a good place to start.

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So how did that discovery of my own pattern manifest itself going forward? Looking back I can clearly see my predilection to work with collaborators on the Fragments project over and over that enjoyed the "getting ready" part and took it slower. In fact it turns out every single person I worked with more than once for that particular project fit the same M.O.

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Pulling this together sometimes feels overwhelming in that no matter which pattern I choose there's just so much raw material to compare and contrast across a bunch of collaborators.

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I barely have a handle on what patterns there are let alone how they fit together yet. Even then sequencing and juxtapositioning seems insurmountable right here and now.

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I set a goal for myself to be done making selections this summer for the Fragments project. I even made a loose commitment for a small print show which is now looming large.

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Even those couple of video contact sheets I've made for Fragments haven't helped me see the thing as a whole — no, I see it as a whole I just can't put the raw material together that supports what I want.

A Way Forward

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I think part of my problem in making selections has been I've had all of the raw material grouped by collaborator and then sub-categorized by which particular occasion we made them on.

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I have all of my favorites labeled in the context of that organization but it's done little good in choosing across those groups or helping me make sense out of what will be my final output.

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In fact when viewed in the context of "the whole thing" my opinion changes substantially. I discovered what should have been obvious by accident. In that pattern I discovered I keep referring to I piled a bunch of images together across collaborators, across the occasions I made them. That's probably the better way to look at not only this project but potentially many longer-term projects that span months or years.

Wide

Even with this ridiculously small slice of a few patterns observed like the vacillation between consternation, delicacy of handling what is not at all delicate, a few common gestures, a consistent "right after the click". Looking at it this way removing segregation of occasion and collaborator is far more productive with only a little time spent.

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These happen to be from my rejects but just slapped together in a pile of two patterns I already knew were there and only across three different collaborators.

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I thing the way to go about this is start going through the current organization and chucking everything that fits particular patterns into far bigger piles and weeding out what's, what. After that I it should be far easier to get my head around the thing as a whole.

Wide

End Notes

All pictures made with the Fuji XT-1 and 18-55mm XF. Processing via Lightroom CC and VSCO FILM07 Ilford PanF-.

Just a note. When looking at these I decided to slap a different treatment than my usual. VSCO FILM07 in general is a lot more tame. I also just slapped it on anything without any density adjustments. That combination resulted in a far darker and more traditional full-range look for this project. I may as well start to think abut what a particular "look" will work with however the selection process kicks out what it kicks out.