The slow evolution of projects

February 07, 2020  •  7 Comments

Used BooksUsed BooksGig Harbor, Washington No Dearth of Books
Gig Harbor, Washington, 2009

The most prevalent way of working in photography right now is project oriented: you go after an idea. I like the old way, the intuitive approach. You follow your nose and take pictures and see what emerges. It happens after the fact.  - Mark Klett

The above quote was posted by my Twitter friend, PJ Finn* and it really resonated with me.  I don't do projects very often, like, never. I like to think in terms of projects but I don't go out and pursue them as such. Like Klett notes, I see what emerges by, through the years, gravitating to what interests me. 

I allow those ideas to ruminate and I'll continue to collect what is offered, little by little. They'll be filed away and sometimes forgotten.  Yet, over time that idea will reassert itself and I'll dig through the catalogues hoping I keyworded correctly and those images are available at the click of a button. When pigs fly perhaps. 

I'll find that over the years I've been drawn to and photographed subjects that now can be shaped into something resembling a project. As the few examples below might illustrate I like photographing Readers.  I can not pass by a person reading a book.  Without the camera I'll try to see what they're reading; with the camera I'll try to get a photo. And, like Mr. Klett said, follow your nose and see what emerges (ha! with cold season upon us that may be a bad metaphor).  As it turns out I have enough Reader photographs to begin thinking project

The ReaderThe Reader
The Reader
Pt. Loma, CA - 2012
KristinKristinPortsmouth, NH
Portsmouth, NH - 2015
ReaderReaderSan Diego, California
San Diego, CA - 2017
Paris, France Window Reader
Paris, France - 2018  Reader on the SeineReader on the SeineParis, France
Reader on the Seine
Paris, France - 2018

Reader in Silhouette
Boston, MA - 2008

*yes, I have Twitter friends, Flickr friends, and an occasional Instagram friend. They're all virtual until I actually meet them in person which does happen on the rare instance. 


Monte Stevens(non-registered)
Love this series of images. I read PJ's posted quote and had the same response as you did. I seem to go with subjects and certain lighting scenes, or at least I think so.
Todd Henson(non-registered)
Most all of the collections I've done that might be considered projects have been as you describe, largely after the fact and seen in hindsight. And I certainly enjoy that realization you may have found something greater than its parts. But there's also a growing desire in me to intentionally work towards a project.. It's not something I have much experience with, but I feel there's also value in that, so one of these days I'd like to try it. But until then, I'm with you, looking back through my catalog, occasionally discovering interesting things I hadn't realized were there.
Jerry Foodman(non-registered)
I was not familiar with the project/no-project discussion. But with the lovely reader project sampler here, I am now a project guy. As in the Dearth lead photo, it would be nice to have a place or context comment for each photo.
Great theme! Nice collection of photos.
Hehe, I like your footnote almost as much as your photos, which, in case you're wondering, I like very much. They meld and merge and interweave well together as a body of work, and they do so without looking homogenized or synthesized, which can often happen when photos are taken systematically and purposefully for a premeditated project. Well done as always Joe.
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