Over the last week I’ve been re-thinking my latest approach to photography in an attempt to overcome some self-inflicted constraints. Photography used to be so simple – I’d catch up with my nieces, take a few snaps, play around with them, and have fun. I’d go somewhere new in Japan, India, or wherever I happened to be, walk around, absorb the local atmosphere and snap away when I felt like it. But over the last year I shifted direction because I wanted my photography to contribute to society in a more meaningful way, even if it was only a small one. So I started a project on asylum seekers in Japan. I liked it. I liked the idea of social documentary and how it can, if done well, help take society to a better place, and I enjoyed all the challenges that came with it. But the problem for me was that I only felt like shooting when I was working on a project, and if I couldn’t decide on a project then I wouldn’t shoot at all. It sounds ridiculous now but that was my approach to most of 2011.
Projects of course are important, but a recent blog post I read by Blake Andrew made me realize that there’s another approach, a much simpler one that shows you don’t actually need a project to shoot one. One sentence, in particular, got me thinking:
“I’m all about taking photos first, then finding out what the project is.”
For me this feels perfect. Why constrain yourself by thinking too much about projects? Why not just wake up each morning grab a camera and go out and shoot? To seasoned pros shooting projects this is standard stuff but to me it’s something new – shoot a project by not shooting one. Some of the photographers I admire and respect the most use this approach.
So I plan to get back to basics. Wake up each morning decide where to go and just go. One camera, one lens, and a few rolls of film. See what’s around me and react if I feel like reacting. If I like it go back again, if not move on. The project can come later.
So here are a few shots from my Nagoya project that I didn’t realize I was working on. Until now.