Thursday, May 3, 2012

A New Challenge....................

The other day I sat on my couch watching a baseball game that I already knew the outcome of, and rhythmically started to delete over 1000 photos from my iPhone. This still left me with over 1500 images in my camera roll!

With the inspiration and energy I have received as a result of my "Project 365", I have also taken a couple of thousand new photographs with my Nikon since the beginning of the year.

While this has been fun, it's also left me wondering if this is the best approach to photography. I know the answer. It usually is not.

This subject has been brewing in the back of my mind for a while and I have wrote about it before. When I was shooting film, I was very careful and thought deeply before clicking the shutter. The cost of film and processing adds up very quickly and I had to be very sure the image I was seeing through my viewfinder was one that had a chance of ending up in the developer tray.

Last week I learned of a book by award winning National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg where this issue is discussed. The book is called "Chased by the Light" and in it he shares the process and the images from the assignment he gave himself to only take one photo a day for the ninety days of autumn. He chose to concentrate on the land around his home in Minnesota and the photographs in this book, all shot with film, are stunning! (Side note: it appears the price of the book has increased since I bought my copy. In my research I did discover that it is also available as an iPad app )

His reflections on what prompted him to do this echo many of my own concerns. In the book he shares what he called his "increasing dissatisfaction" with his photography. This was the late 1990's and he was already noticing how technology was changing his approach. Brandenburg went as far as saying that "the sheer number of photographs taken was overwhelming" and that he was beginning to feel "reliant upon - or trapped by - that technology....".

Out of curiosity, I have given myself a new challenge. Similar to Brandenburg's but on a much, much smaller scale I have decided that for the next week I am only going to take ONE photograph with my iPhone every day and it will be shot in my backyard. I began this morning and the exercise was meditative and very satisfying. Every time I raised my phone to view a possible image, I stopped and really thought about it. I turned to view the potential subject at different angles and/or in different light and eventually came across this ball of string sitting on top of a piece of granite. (My backyard is in need of some loving care, so interesting vignettes pop up everywhere......) I loved the texture but more importantly I loved how it felt. I slowed down and contemplated what I was looking at and remembered to breathe..........................

©2012 Dianne Poinski


  1. You've made me think too. And I love this image.

  2. I hope you'll be posting all the one-a-days, Dianne...seems such a useful exercise, so contemplative. I too, luv this image!

  3. Diane,

    That is a cool approach to photography. I remember the days of film and being ever so careful to frame the perfect shot. I am much happier with digital. :o)


  4. Sounds like a worthy challenge, and a good way to sharpen the eye. It does seem as if some kind of self imposed limit boosts creativity, whether it is a deadline, a limited palette, or a shutter diet. I look forward to to your process!

  5. Thanks everyone! Day 4 and I am still very happy I decided to do this. "Shutter Diet" - I love that. Thanks Katherine!

  6. i love this as a meditative practice!

  7. Your work continues to be so visually inspiring to me, Dianne. Inspired by your efforts, I have been shooting images every time that I go on a walk, with my iphone. I'm particularly fond of the format of instagram because I am challenged to get the photo right as I don't allow myself any photoshop or cropping etc. I think there is something very freeing to the creativity about self-restricting the boundaries for our personal challenges. Your "Shutter Diet" images are superb.