Sunday, July 15, 2012

A New Project

While I wait for the initial copies of Cree Star Blanket to arrive at my doorstep for a preliminary evaluation, I’ve decided to finally start a personal project of mine that I’ve been thinking about for a few months. People like Steve Simon, Zack Arias, Chase Jarvis, and David Hobby all put a lot of emphasis on personal projects. Having just completed one, I know the feeling. That was more of a magazine piece in a hardcover book, though. The writing and the fact-finding was just as important, if not a little bit more important than the photos. There were two kinds of photos in Cree Star Blanket — photos that documented the actual project, like the mosaic or archive photos of the Chalk Talk activity (most of which were not taken by me as I could not create the book while the project was actually happening) and portraits of teachers and students that were involved with the project to provide some “faces of the project”, if you will. This time, however, I’m aiming for something that is far more skewed to photos than writing, though there will inevitably be a few sentences here and there.

So, what is this project? Well, a few months ago, I decided to see how interested my friends were in letting me document them in their personal spaces, like their offices, garages, bedrooms, etc. I sort of did a “proof of concept” a few months ago when I documented Michael’s dorm room before he dismantled it. It showed promise. I was too occupied with Cree Star Blanket to really take on another project at the same time, but I didn’t want to give up on the idea, so I’m starting it again. I might make it a series of short photo essays (one essay per subject), all focused on the idea of being young, and how different people go about it. There is not one way of being a teenager, but there is a general idea of youth that older people sort of rally around. Sometimes it’s positive, but often it’s negative. When it is positive, it’s usually just a list of accomplishments from someone labeled a wunderkind meant to give the viewer an inferiority complex. The subjects of these often “softer-than-soft” news snippets aren’t really portrayed as real, multifaceted people. I hope to go beyond that.

I might approach this like an old LIFE story, following a person around for a few hours of their day, with a majority of that time spent in the personal space that means most to them. The room/office/garage would serve as a visual anchor for the rest of the story, a repeating motif that unifies the project. I don’t think I could pull a Gene Smith and follow someone around for 3 weeks. Not yet, anyway. Somewhere in the middle of the project, I might incorporate video into it, if I feel comfortable enough with the medium (that’s after I get a dSLR that can shoot video that isn’t awful).

Do you have a personal space that you would like me to document and show to the world (on this blog or elsewhere)? Does this space have “you” written all over it? Would you mind being casually interviewed? If so, drop me a line and tell me briefly why you should be considered. I’ll be contacting a few people as well. I can’t guarantee that everyone will have a chance, but I’ll consider every entry.

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