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Just another pretty picture or are you on a mission?

Why do photographers take pictures? Well there's a huge question. If you're a photographer and you hope to get your work published in some form, a book an exhibition, online or in print then I've got some pointers which may help you.

On the other hand, if you only want to make pretty pictures that people like, then your focus will be on technique, equipment and the craft of picture taking. For me, and I think most serious photographers, the craft of picture taking can be compared to learning the mechanics of driving a car.

We need to learn how to handle the controls of the car because we want to be able to get safely and smoothly from point A to B. You can hone your driving technique all you want till you're as slick as a formulae 1 driver but that's still not going to get you anywhere unless you know where you want to go. Right, I've laboured that metaphor enough for now. Back to the main story.

You're a serious photographer and you want to be published. The first thing you've got to think about is what your interests are. You need a strong, unique, concept; something that you feel passionate about, to hang your photographic work on. Like any mission yours' will start with a statement setting out your big idea, what you want to achieve, timescales, budgets, geographical scale and deadlines, as well as your end product ie the outcomes you hope to achieve such as an exhibition or a book, or both.

Once you've got all of this down in writing and you've refined your mission statement, you're ready to start planning the steps you need to take so you can achieve your goal. Think of your mission statement along the lines of what you would say if you had an idea for a movie and you had 60 seconds to pitch it to a Hollywood producer. If you are going to get an exhibition or a book you will inevitably be in the position of having to pitch your work. So it makes sense to get it down right from the start.

At the core of everything is what you want to communicate or show your audience, whether it's informing them of something, getting them to care, showing something that's never been seen before or simply conveying an emotion. Whatever you want to communicate, a mission orientated focus for your photography will definitely take it beyond producing just another pretty picture.

That's it from me till next time. I plan to write about how working on a photographic project will change your photography and the way you see the world. As always I welcome hearing your thoughts.



David said…
Okay I've read the article I've picked a project. Now all I need is to figure out how to photograph cognative dissonance...
Paul Indigo said…
Sounds like a real challenge David. Good luck :)

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