Copyright 2010 Douglas Stockdale
At some point in a photo project, I sense that I am coming to the end, in that what I am attempting to convey or the subject seems to coming to stand still. For me, that could be either internal or external. Sometimes, such as when my Visa expired for China, I was not planning to return, thus what I had discovered and photographed was essentially done for the moment. In the case of my project In Passing, I think that I had did not have much more to say on the matter. The body of work seemed complete, and I was into the editing mode, examining the raw material for those elements that conveyed what I was searching for.
For my project Ciociaria, it seems that I was sensing the end of the discovery mode due to a combination of factors and I was slowly shifting into the editing mode towards the end of last year. The shift to the editorial mode was not abrupt, but gradual, which happens to me most times. Certainly since I have returned a couple of more occasions to continue the discover and investigation, and I anticipate that I will still make another trip in the Spring.
I have also found that in the early phases of my project, I was poking in a lot of different directions and in a number of different ways, probably best thought of as a lot of mini trial runs. As mentioned before, I was cooking some pasta and throwing it on the wall to see if it was sticking. And some was, enough so that I was encouraged to investigate further. In retrospect, I also find myself with a lot of early photographs that may make interesting Singular images, were not working to provide cohesiveness to my concept. So to say that I had photographed X thousand images for this project is kinda of meaningless. Or it is to me, as I am more concerned about how many images are close and in the ball park that could express my concept. So the very first edit is to get rid of the crap. Yikes! Let me rephrase that: to distill the available images into a more cohesive whole. Reads a bit better, eh?
So lets say that I am now down to about 300 images and I know that my book will be in the range of 55 to 65 images. Now the sledding will get a little more difficult, as my real goal is to get into the 150 image range. I am targeting a significant few to bring to the table for the book’s editor and publisher to evaluate. BTW I have already made a selection of 58 images and assembled a book dummy, but at this point, I want to keep this in my back pocket as we enter into the collaborative phase.
I have my idea of what the book should look like, but I also know that there are a huge number of options and variations. I also know that I have my own emotional blinders on and there may be some options that I do not perceive or understand, as I am way too close and invested in this project to see other options. My goal for this book is to work collaboratively, so I want to make available more raw material and then listen and discuss the observations and thoughts of the others.
A case in point, I brought with me the Ciociaria book dummy with me on my trip into Paris in January. I worked on it for much of the flight to France, not so much about which photographs to include, but working on the pairing and sequencing of the photographs. (actually a constant evaluation for me during this phase). As fate would have it, I had an opportunity to meet Remi Coignet and his wife, Maria Bojikian, who is a photo editor for a French magazine. Eventually the conversation came around to my project and so I presented my book dummy. After Maria very quickly walked through the dummy, her first words were that this project was going to need at least another three hours of editing (not that evening!), but for me, more importantly, she instantly noted that there was one photograph that was entirely not in sync with the others. It was a very nice group portrait and interesting on its own, but really out of sorts with all of the others. Wrong look, wrong feel, and not right. Interestingly, this was the one photo that was giving me the most fits on my earlier flight. This photo was one that I could not find the right paring and I keep changing its sequential position. Maria stated the now obvious solution; take it out. And I immediate understood that she was right on. I really liked this photograph too much and I was trying to get a square peg into a round hole. She helped me make a difficult decision. This was the type of collaboration I am looking forward to, a learning opportunity.
Best regards, Doug