26 Weeks Camera Challenge #26: Enjoy. by Simeon Smith

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It’s finished.

You’ve completed a photography course, and completed a project at the end of it.

Your art is out there.

Enjoy the feeling.

Relax, and make the most of the post-project lull. Reflect on your work, what you would do differently next time, what you’d tell yourself if you could go back 6 months. 

Question:

What next?

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26 Weeks Camera Challenge #25: The Project, Deliver by Simeon Smith

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Deliver your project.

There’s not much more I can say, other than to encourage you that this is the hardest part.

My dark night of the soul was stuffing envelopes following my Kickstarter funding. Sitting at home, planning, editing, promoting… That’s all in your comfort zone, and if not, you can psych yourself up, and get it over and done with as soon as possible. Framing and printing photos and the self-doubt that that brings, that’s hard. Laying out and printing a zine, that’s hard. making things happen takes a lot of perseverance and a healthy amount of “I just need to get it done.” At some point you’re going to need to admit to yourself that your work, your project, is as good as it’s going to get, and it’s time to make it happen. 

Questions:

  1. How good is good enough?
  2. How can we combat self-doubt?
  3. What has your artistic dark night of the soul been?

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26 Weeks Camera Challenge #24: The Project, Promote by Simeon Smith

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Hard truth: No one cares about your art more than you do. They should. But they don’t. There’s this amazing comic strip by Austin Kleon that goes something like this:

How much do you value your life? 

“I love your work, it’s changed my life!”

“Would you like to buy a book, it’s 8 dollars.”

“No thanks, I’m good.” 

Good news is, that because you’re the one most invested in your own art, you’re also the best person to promote it. Here are some non-cringey ways to promote your photography:

  • Stay factual. “I’ve worked really hard on my new photography exhibition, and would love for you to go” comes across a lot better than “My photography is all about the ethereal light protruding from the hearts and souls of each living being, past and present”. Oh, and keeping it factual will also stop you from going too Kanye, or too self-deprecating. No one wants to hear “It’s probably rubbish, but you should come anyway”. 
  • Thank people. Thank them for inspiring you, share other people’s work and what you’ve put into your art following their path. Thank people when they pay you compliments. Thank people when they turn up to your events, or buy your prints. 
  • Share your process. “Here’s me, making art.” is a genre that goes down a storm online. 
  • Use social media to your advantage. There are some great tools out there like Hootsuite and Buffer that make promoting your art online SO VERY EASY. Use them.

This week, promote your project ahead of the launch. 

  1. Questions:
  2. How comfortable are you talking about your own art?
  3. Should you learn more from Kanye or from Sia?
  4. What makes your own perspective so special?

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26 Weeks Camera Challenge #23: The Project, Edit by Simeon Smith

Your photos aren’t as good as they could be. None of our photos are. Due to the very nature of photos they can be endlessly replicated with slightly different tones, slightly different colouring, printed on different paper or manipulated in a thousand other ways. 

Even if you’ve previously edited your photos, if they’re going into a book, being printed and framed, or being showcased online, you’ll want to edit them again for the task at hand. You’ll want your photos to look good in the setting. You’ll want your photos to  be the best version of themselves they possibly can be, with the latest editing techniques you’ve only just learnt. For this reason I always keep my negatives, and the original scans of my images from film, and the original RAW files for digital work. When the V&A come knocking for hi-definition images of your most iconic pictures in 10 years time, you’ll want to be able to go back and check every inch of each image. 

This week, edit or re-edit every image in your project.

  1. Editing doesn't have to be involved or complicated, it’s fine to use Lightroom and Photoshop. It’s also fine to use free software or whatever came on your laptop. 
  2. Try to divide your work into two distinct areas: Corrective and Creative. First sort out any “problems” with the image, get everything looking as you wish it would have come out of the camera. Then you start work on any creative edits.
  3. Compare your image to the unedited image to make sure things aren’t looking crazy unnatural. Compare your image to other images from artists with similar styles to your own, just to make sure that your vintage hues don’t make everyone look jaundice, or you hi-contrast black and white work looking less Magnum and more Banksy (unless that’s what you’re going for, of course!!)

Questions:

  1. Do you have a distinct look or feel you’re going for when you edit?
  2. Do you value consistency or diversity in your work?
  3. Who’s work should you be comparing your edits to, to improve your craft?

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26 Weeks Camera Challenge #22: The Project, Plan and Shoot by Simeon Smith

Over the last month of this project I want you to complete a project. It could be as involved as an exhibition or zine, or as simple as printing a photo for a loved one, but I want you to give it your all because, well, nobody sets out to make mediocre art. 

Few things happen without a kind of detailed plan. This blog, (when it happens) doesn’t happen without a plan. Things like this series is what keeps me producing, keeps me writing and keeps me not far off target. 

  1. Write down what you want to achieve. I use Notes on my Mac and iPhone just to jot down ideas. It’s not about producing the finished product or writing beautifully, it’s about getting ideas out on paper. You’ll never know how many brilliant ideas you’ve forgotten because you didn’t write them down. 
  2. Schedule time in your diary to work on your project. Set yourself deadlines. Someone once said “I love deadlines, I love the sound they make as they fly by”. And sure, your own personal deadlines can be pretty soft, as you’re only letting yourself down by not sticking to them. But just writing on a calendar when you want to achieve things by is a great motivator. 
  3. Use technology to your advantage. There are some great productivity apps out there. I use Trello, but there are many in the same vein. Get your project on one, set some notifications for your milestones and keep yourself on track. 

This week plan your project. You probably want to use a theme you’ve already started out on, but there might be photos you still want to get, or shots you want to improve on. Here are a few of my own photography projects to get you inspired:

  • Shoot your daily commute.
  • Ask a local coffee house if they’ll let you put your art up for a few weeks. 
  • Publish a Zine of your best work. 
  • Write a detailed review of some of your gear, including example shots.

Questions:

  1. How good are you at sticking to plans?
  2. Should art be planned out or spontaneous?
  3. How important is retrospection in art?

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