Sometimes it helps to give yourself a push to move forward with a project. At some point, you have to decide if you are actually working on a project, or just dreaming about it and doodling along. My push was to enroll in a workshop offered by Maine Media about creating the personal project. This has helped me to focus on my purpose and intent which I believe leads to better photos. This is a useful practice for anyone going out to photograph. You should always photograph with intention – whether that intention is just to have some fun pictures of you and friends or something more deliberate and serious like a photo essay on a specific topic. Thinking about why you are taking a picture will produce better pictures. Of course, sometimes we have a very specific idea in mind when we go out to photograph only to find ourselves being led in a different direction by what we are seeing and how we are seeing it. Each of us has our own way of seeing and experiencing what is in front of us. Creating a project statement forces us to focus on what it is we really want to create and becomes a guide as we go out shooting. When I am reviewing a set of photos I have taken for the project I refer to my project statement to see which photos are faithful to my project.
Studying other photographers is a great way to tap into your own creativity and think about the why and what of your photographic endeavors. Some of my favorites are the following: Dorothea Lang, Gregory Heisler, Richard Avedon,(especially his work in the American west) Stephen Shore, Kurt Markus, Aubrey Bodine, Gordon Parks and so many more. Paying attention to the cinematography and direction in films is also another great way to sharpen your eye and develop your vision. For me one of the most beautifully filmed drama series is Queen Sugar produced by Ava DuVernay with episodes directed by a variety of women filmmakers. Find the ones that inspire your photography.