Project 12, 26 and 52

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1995

There is a term in the financial world called ROI. That stands for “Return On Investment” and that is something all the clever bean counters look at. Simply, if the ROI isn’t there, do something else.

Still thinking about ROI, I came to the conclusion that the one item in everyone’s possession which is not giving value for money, is the camera itself. I’m talking about digitals here, as film belongs to the dark ages these days.

This week’s column is actually not a discourse on the two camera (photography) types – film and digital. I believe everyone now understands the reasons why the world left film behind. For new photographers who never used film, just understand that digital gives you the advantage of ‘instant’ review, something that film could never do. The best that film could do was a one hour wait at the photo-processors, and mess-ups could happen there too.

However, digital cameras are not cheap, and a DSLR can easily see you spending 20,000 baht and upwards. For that sort of money, you should be seeing some sort of return in satisfaction.

There is just so much more you can do with a DSLR than just taking photos of children, friends and family. You should be able to get some fun from the investment too.

The way to get that fun is to make a project for yourself, and one that can be carried through involves taking a photograph of something each week for a complete year. Hence my calling it Project 52.

For example, you could even do a self-portrait each week for one year. Use your imagination and creativity so that you do not end up with 52 shots of your face. There’s plenty of other bits of you to try. A fun idea would be make 52 sections of yourself, and then paste the different shots on to one sheet which would make up your body and be a final art work that Picasso would have been proud of.

1228-Flashman

Too squeamish for 52 shots of yourself? Well, how about 52 shots of your local area or suburb? The plan is to show all the different items that can be found in one community. There will also be different weather in that year – wet and dry to start with. There is also night and day, sunset and sunrise. High viewpoint, low viewpoint. You can see where I am going here. By using your creative senses, you can give yourself many hours of concepts and ideas and then shoot them each weekend.

Project 52 can also be carried out by older members of the family, and by children. Whilst personally I think a DSLR is better suited for this type of project, there is no real reason why a digital compact could not be used.

If 52 is just too much to take on, then what about Project 26? Each shot represents one letter of the alphabet. Sure, A for Apple is easy, but Q for ? is a little more difficult. Again, the creative approach will see you looking for queues, or even “quickly” (work out how to show that). You could even make it that the subject matter in each of the 26 shots looks like the letter. A stepladder looks like an A. So a double hook, for example, looks like an S, whilst a single hook looks like a J. The top of a bottle is an O. An open pair of scissors is a V.

You won’t find all the items in one weekend, but by the following weekend you’ll have worked out what you are looking to photograph.

If Project 26 is still too onerous for you, how about Project 12? There are 12 months of the year, think about how you can show the difference between them. Hot, wet, cold – there’s three of them – and then it gets harder from there. But the whole concept is to get you thinking, and then using your expensive investment.

Sit down this weekend and work out which project you would like to try, then start working on the concept, and then finally start shooting. Best of luck.