Why Project X ?

January 07, 2020  •  Leave a Comment



NB - This article has since been published in The Big Photo eZine, February 2020, edition 37


The Big Photo Ezine_Feb 2020_Issue 37The Big Photo Ezine_Feb 2020_Issue 37Magazine Cover

The Big Photo Issue 3744The Big Photo Issue 3744Why Project X? Featuring images from my Soul project.

The Big Photo Issue 3745The Big Photo Issue 3745 The Big Photo Issue 3746The Big Photo Issue 3746 The Big Photo Issue 3747The Big Photo Issue 3747 The Big Photo Issue 3748The Big Photo Issue 3748
Article images above are taken from In Search of Soul project.

"A camera is merely a black box with a hole in it to let light in, capturing light frequencies.

Human beings are similar, being receptors of vibrations and frequencies but also emit them (radiance, sound, perceptions).

The black box does not think whereas the human 'feels' thoughts. It is often said that somewhere in each of us lies the Soul - a hard to define concept. We know that a camera has no soul and yet it can record emotion, so in photography terms, the soul must lie within the photographer's perception and engagement with reality.
One should be able to 'feel' a photographic image at a deep level thus making the connection with the perceiver’s emotions and engaging its being.
My quest here is to find the 'Soul' in photography, not the camera, but the Universal connection which engages awareness into One principle.

The Principle of the Soul."

Why should you photograph personal projects even when working as a freelance photographer?

Working in the photography industry as a freelance can be a little like being an actor or artist. There is no guarantee of work today or tomorrow and yesterday’s work was well, yesterday. Past glories are no guarantee of future success, however they do create a visible trail of your work that enables others see the direction of your artistic journey and expression.

Photography is after all a creative process and whilst there are many photographers out there who’s phones never stop ringing and are constantly in demand, this heavenly utopia is not true for everyone.

There are slack times, dead times and certainly some down times!

This is where having or pursuing personal projects is vitally important. Not only do they keep you engaged in the photographic process, they give you an opportunity to EXPLORE!

Paid commissions for clients are to deliver what they want. Personal projects are your opportunity to challenge yourself.

I write about these experiences in my Blogs and also reveal some of them in my Personal Project section of my web site. Anything that takes my eye is fair game. Sometimes its an historical location with a great back story to explore and good old Wikipedia is a great place to fact-check as are any related sites associated with the project you are exploring, other times it is about someone I admire or find interesting. All give one the opportunity to try different techniques from Landscapes to Portraits and everything in between.

I currently have one such project which I started several years ago called ‘People of the Valley’ where I explore the people who live and work in and around the Tweed Valley here in the Scottish Borders where I have lived since 1996.

In it I interview and photograph people I find interesting, quirky or unique (sometimes all three) and with their permission I add them to my small hall of fame. Some are artists, others musicians, one a man of God, another an eighty-year old motorcyclist with an impressive enduro record from the sixties. 

The magic of projects like these are in the people you meet and the places you visit and eventually I hope to run this as an exhibition to tell their stories to a wider public and also to let them see the fruits of my work about them.

So what are the boundaries you need to set and how does one go about preparing a project. Really there is no difference between conducting a project for a client or yourself. Here’s a brief guide or reminder:-

  1. Create a name or title for your project that defines it.

  2. Select the people and/or locations you want to work with.

  3. If collaborating with others, build a team around you who possess the missing or supportive skills you don’t have or want support for and establish a consensus on what the roles of responsibility are and what will be shared between you.

  4. Ask permissions of those you want to photograph and if appropriate, ask them to sign a model release or if minors, seek parental, or guardian consent.

  5. Define clearly the purpose of your project and communicate the background about it showing examples or links for new prospects and team members to see as may be appropriate.

  6. Agree any fees (if required) in advance and seek permissions for land or buildings you may want to feature if not publicly accessible. Note some public buildings are forbidden or require a property releases or written consent (particularly Public or Government held, or if on private land).

  7. Make appointments and stick to them.

  8. Make sure you have the contact information of everyone involved.

  9. Show up. 

  10. Be courteous, patient and respectful of the time, particularly if visiting people in their workplace or homes.

Preparing your own project gives you a focus to your work. It could for example be to capture details of the landscape, or visiting locations at particular times of day, or interviewing people you are featuring and then communicating that information back to them for approval before publishing.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun and share it with those who may be most interested, particularly if for the people you photograph.


Graham Riddell

7th January 2020





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