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Business / Philosophy of Photography Taking pics is one thing, but understanding why we take them, what they mean, what they are best used for, how they effect our reality -- all of these and more are important issues of the Philosophy of Photography. One of the best authors on the subject is Susan Sontag in her book "On Photography."

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How to tell a story...
Old 01-31-2014   #1
xia_ke
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How to tell a story...

Over the course of the past few years I met my (now) wife, went back to school to get my degree, and moved a couple times. Life, as it does, got hectic. Prior to meeting each other my wife and I were avid hikers/backpackers and both actively pursuing creative outlets, her through painting and myself through photography. These passions unfortunately took a back seat for quite some time. We are now settled into our first house, I have finished my degree, and we have celebrated our first year of marriage.

We have decided that this is the year to get back to living life so to speak and have set a goal for ourselves to get back out on the trail and get back to our artistic roots. To help us stick to this goal one of the ideas we have tossed around is to each pick a theme or a story that we want to tell, with each of us putting together a cohesive body of work if for no other reason than to have something to look back on in 20 years. In the past we have each just sought out scenes to capture rather than having a focus to the work. Yep, in some regards it's pretty corny. We know and we don't care.

Having never actually pursued a project though, I'm curious as to how to take a concept, focus it, develop it into a story, and actually execute it. I have some ideas for what I want to do, but am just not certain how to turn the seed into fruit. Any photojournalists out there or others with words of wisdom?
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Old 01-31-2014   #2
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It finds you: you don't find it.

Go out and enjoy yourselves; do what seems like a good idea at the time.

That's how I ended up working for the Tibetan Government in Exile.

When you've decided on the story you want to tell -- come back for more advice.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-31-2014   #3
xia_ke
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Roger,

The year before her and I met I was spending a lot of time backpacking the huts of the Northern parts of the Appalachian Trail. I have a lot of non-hiking friends and I would always try to convey to them the stories of the people I met at these huts and along the trail, but half the time they wouldn't believe me. At times it is a case of the the truth being stranger then fiction. The summer I had thought about how I would like to capture this world to show to people. That is the idea I am toying with right now.
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Old 01-31-2014   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xia_ke View Post
Roger,

The year before her and I met I was spending a lot of time backpacking the huts of the Northern parts of the Appalachian Trail. I have a lot of non-hiking friends and I would always try to convey to them the stories of the people I met at these huts and along the trail, but half the time they wouldn't believe me. At times it is a case of the the truth being stranger then fiction. The summer I had thought about how I would like to capture this world to show to people. That is the idea I am toying with right now.
Okay. It's found you. Go for it. Ask yourself what you want to convey. Who were the weirdest people? How? Who were the dullest? Why? To whom do you want to convey this, and in what medium (exhibition, blog, book...)? Do you want environmental portraits, or the most neutral backgrounds you can get? What other questions can you think of?

How does your wife feel about the project? (This is IMPORTANT!)

Cheers,

R.
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Old 01-31-2014   #5
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I think it is good to ask yourself some of the questions that Roger suggests above. It helps to develop your idea. I also think that the next step is to go out and shoot on this idea.

After that evaluate your results and see if you have any new suggestions by what works and what does not. I have found that when an idea is working you become excited after the first shoot or two and get more ideas for shots around your original subject. This helps to develop the original idea. It becomes a dialectic between you and your subject that drives your idea forward. Basically what I am trying to say is that shooting on an idea is a process.

Good luck with your shooting!
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Old 01-31-2014   #6
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Thanks again for the input First off, wife is perfectly fine with this. It's funny as we both backpacked the same areas before we met. However, she usually did so in groups of people she knew, where as I loved going solo and just getting to know the characters along the way.

Right now I'm more just in the brainstorming phase. Definitely excited to get out shooting, which I'm sure will add direction, but the characters don't start to come out until the mercury gets above freezing.
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Old 01-31-2014   #7
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Saw the movie 'Songcatcher' years ago about songs and people in Appalachia,
The story and how director Maggie Greenwald put up the movie could be inspirational...
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Old 01-31-2014   #8
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Hi Taipei,

Thank you very much for the suggestion. I looked up the movie and while it looks like a good movie, that is not the direction I'm thinking. Appalachia life is very different from that of life on the trail itself. The culture around the huts is very much what I envision a New York City street corner to be. It's hippies mixed with weekend warrior bankers mixed with bikers mixed with college students. The thing that draws me the most is quite often these people would never even say hi to each other on the street yet up on the mountain some unspoken bond brings everyone together. Societal barriers are forgotten. Its hard to explain unless you've experienced it.
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Old 01-31-2014   #9
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Susan Lipper's work might be inspirational maybe. Her Grapevine series dived deep into the Appalachian communities.
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