Photography with Intent
Considering that shooting deliberately with intent was the theme of the previous two articles here on the blog, I felt that for this week’s entry, I’d wrap it up with, “The 36 Exposures Challenge.” When I stumbled upon this, I thought, what a great idea! With 16 and even 32GB memory cards becoming more and more popular, it’s like people are running around with their cameras loaded with full 20 roll bricks of film and seemingly unlimited exposures. What a great exercise this challenge is, to force a retooling of the speed at which you shoot, and to think about how and when you depress the shutter button, as in this case, you really do “only” have 36 frames, which really, is still a lot of frames to shoot if you think about it.
“I once had a student at Bard College, where I teach, who was taking portraits. The results kept disappointing him, so each week he took more and more pictures. Still he was disappointed. Finally, I assigned him to make only one exposure the next week. The picture was excellent. His problem was that he substituted quantity when trying to come to terms with what he wanted in his pictures. If an artist doesn’t work with conscious intentionality, sometimes no amount of editing helps. There are other times when the lack of self-censorship that digital can engender communicates a more intuitive energy.” -From the Pop Photo interview with Stephen Shore
Missing the challenge of taking photographs with “intent?” Perhaps shooting digital is pushing your mind to act too fast and not taking the time to think about the purpose of the image? File Magazine, Flak Photo and Coudal Partners have joined to create a very interesting challenge: “The 36 Exposure Challenge.”
We are asking photographers to use a film camera to explore Shore’s concept of “conscious intentionality.” Broadly speaking, we are challenging photographers to do two things: articulate a concept, project, or theme and then use a film camera to photograph the images to illustrate it. There are, then, two parts: creating the idea and then acting on it.
Give it a try, think about a mini-project, and take the challenge to think and plan the images to communicate the purpose and the intent you’d like to achieve. Photographing your images with such intent will make you think. It will make you plan. It will help you to focus and be selective, and it will make you a better photographer.