As we enter a new year, it’s a great opportunity to think about how we might want to see our photography evolve over the next 12 months.
Here are three photography experiments I’m planning for 2020.
1. One Month One Camera, every month.
In January 2019 I started a One Month, One Camera (OMOC) project, and in the end, for six out of the 12 months, I stuck to one camera for that month.
Even the months in between where I took breaks from the project, I found I wasn’t flitting between dozens of different cameras as I have done in the past.
The benefits of this approach are myriad, but perhaps the most valuable for me is that when I know I’m heading out for a photowalk and want to maximise my time and experience, I can just grab my current camera, a spare battery and memory card and go.
This takes about 30 seconds, not the sometimes 30 minutes plus it has taken in the past, standing by my camera shelves anxiously debating over which particular camera/lens to go with this time.
When I was shooting film this was even worse, as I was mostly using cameras with interchangeable lenses with all their inherent potential to sabotage your decisiveness, and of course film itself, which added another layer of choice.
Even say three cameras, three lenses and three film emulsions already gives 27 different shooting combinations. Add another choice to each of these three variables and you’re up to 64 in total.
Then even when you’ve made a decision, and are out taking pictures, you begin second guessing yourself, doubting whether the kit in your hands was the best choice after all, rather than focusing on and loving the camera you’re with.
So being able to bypass this kind of cognitive load entirely, because you already decided at the beginning of the month which camera you’re going to be using, is an absolutely joy for me.
I’ve realised in recent years I’m not yet ready for cameranogomy though, and do still like some variety.
I currently have 12 cameras, so I could feasibly shoot a different camera every month for a year if I wanted to.
It’s probably more likely though that I’ll use half of those cameras, twice each.
In 2019 I fell into the trap of buying a number of new (to me) cameras, just for the OMOC project, something I don’t intend to do this year.
After all, I already have all I need.
2. Zero processing.
I’ve moved away from using Snapseed in recent months, mostly because the cameras I’ve favoured can deliver photographs I like straight out of camera, after investing a little time in setting them up initially.
Four cameras I own have excellent black and white settings, and another two are very pleasing for colour photos.
Beyond those, my remaining cameras I’ve usually only shot b/w with, then processed with Snapseed to add contrast and perhaps adjust exposure.
This has worked very well, and has meant I’ve found a pretty consistent look for photos made across all cameras
But now I’m keen to remove that extra step, not only because of the processing time and effort itself, but because of the extra file created and then saving/organing another set of post processed files alongside (or as a replacement to) the originals.
So when I use any of these cameras that don’t give so many creative options within the camera’s settings, I’m just going to let their own personalities come through and see how the images look.
If I don’t like them so much, I always have the six I mentioned before (four for b/w, two for colour) and can then make a decision on whether I need any cameras that don’t deliver straight out of camera.
I suspect I don’t.
3. Exploring Flickr alternatives for discovering other photographers.
I’ve loved using Flickr for a decade now, but something I haven’t used it for much in the last two or three years is finding other photographers whose work inspires me.
Whilst Flickr remains an excellent choice for me as a portfolio, archive and organisation tool, the community side is sadly a pale shadow of what it once was, and most photographs I find there that I like are years old.
I’ve realised too that most of the photography blogs I follow are as much about the photographer and how they write, than the photographs themselves.
Put another way, I’m there at least as much for the conversation and the shared journey, as for the images, which mirrors my intention with 35hunter too – building a place for conversation and community far more than as a showcase for my own photographs.
But it would be good to find a few new photographers to follow.
A good starting place for this might be ipernity, which has been recommended to me a couple of times recently. I’ve already set up a free account, to see what it’s about, and what – and who – I can find there.
I don’t have any other immediate ideas for this yet, so I’m open to suggestions. As long as they’re not Instagram.
Plus of course I have a healthy stack of photography books I’m working through.
How about you, how do you plan to experiment with your photography in 2020?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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