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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

The Hardest Thing I Have Done (Photographically)

As I have mentioned a couple of times in the last several months, I have been putting my photographic efforts into a project that I have been working on quite diligently.  It is really the first such project of its type, in terms of size, that I have undertaken.  When all is said and done, I suspect it will be a portfolio of somewhere between 40-60 finished prints.  I am not ready to discuss the specifics just yet, but expect to be able to by or in February, which is, more or less, my self-imposed deadline for completion of the prints and audio.  Audio??? Yup...please stay tuned, as the project will contain my very first attempts at associating audio files with images. Trying to complete a project like this is, without question, the most difficult photographic undertaking I have devoted myself to.  I would like to post some thoughts about what some of the challenges have been for me.  I made a similar post when I was just starting the project, but wanted to add some further thoughts and ideas now that I am deep into it.

Weather - I have commented on more than one occasion that one of the best aspects of shooting close to home is that you can make images at many different times of year and during many different weather conditions.  But what if the location is far away or if you have limited access for any of a number of possible reasons.  Then you are, to some degree, at the mercy of the prevailing weather and associated lighting conditions when you have the opportunity to make images.  If conditions are not what you might have hoped for then you must simply make the best of what is available and shoot whatever complements the lighting.

Editing - It is incredibly difficult to edit literally hundreds of shots (many of which you might be emotionally attached to) down to a far smaller number. Remember, the viewer couldn't care less how difficult it was or how long it took you to get the image.  They only care about what the finished image looks like (and rightly so). This has been the hardest aspect of the project for me. Along the same vein, if the project is about one subject, how similar in composition and subject can good shots be in within the one portfolio without feeling repetitive?  How narrow should the portfolio topic or subject be?  What should be the thread that holds it together.....location, subject, shapes?  One can assemble a project 'about' the same subject in many different ways.

Sequencing - Putting the images in a meaningful sequence is far more difficult when there are 40 or 50 images instead of 4 or 5. Should they be grouped by location, subject, time, detail vs wide environmental shots, tone, shape etc?  What should the flow be?  And to add to the problem, it is far more physically difficult to lay out and sequence a large number of prints, as compared to just a few.

Toning - If the project is monochrome, the choice of toning, if any, will affect every single image.  You can make yourself a bit crazy trying to find the perfect toning.

Presentation - What size and in what format should the finished project be presented (paper prints, canvas, a book, a folio).  Perhaps all of these?

Getting It Out There -  After putting in so much work, one has to think about ways to get the work seen.  The more you think about it, the more possibilities seem to arise.  But each of those possibilities entails much additional work, so it pays to choose wisely.

Time - Working on the portfolio takes up a good deal of time.  It has to come from somewhere.  For me it comes from time that I might otherwise be out shooting.  So it really needs to be time well spent!