In a video on his YouTube channel, Ted Forbes launched the first of a series of assignments. As an avid follower of his videos, I decided to join. The topic is “Variations”, the assignment is to take ten shots at the same scene. This is how it went.

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With the first two pictures, I cheated. I cheat a lot, cheating is my default way of doing assignments: I always try to stretch the rules, play with them, push their boundaries – I just can’t help. In this case it was probably just laziness because I already had taken those shots for a previous post so I found myself with a topic and 20% of the work done (yes, this is the wrong kind of cheating – but it made me start).

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The third one is a picture I wouldn’t ever think of taking if it wasn’t for this assignment and as it turned out I like it so much it became my profile picture on many social media. It required me to put my camera on a tripod and to use a remote: so it wasn’t just the “thinking” but also the need to move my lazy ass and set a couple of things up.

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The fourth one was easier (it required just a mirror), but I love it for the exact analog look I usually crave for.

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Out of ideas, I took a picture of my FG-20 in its old bag: it turned out just right but it’s definitely an image I don’t like. This in accordance with the rule “allow yourself to fail”. Even if I have eleven images now, I decided to keep it because of this very reason.

Derailment

Then inspiration stopped flowing and ten images seemed a lot. In the meantime, stuck in the traffic, I thought that a series of images from behind my car’s window would be even more interesting so I changed topic and started over. I matched the photos with the song that was playing on my iPhone at that time looking for a synaesthetic result. I produced ten images in a relatively short amount of time. For the records, the result was conceptually intriguing but visually not very good. Anyway, accomplished the mission, I carried on with my life waiting for the next assignment.

Back to the assignment

At the same time I was leading a workshop about creativity and this assignment seemed perfect for my group – so I forwarded it with a couple of adjustments. But my incomplete first try was bothering me, it was like I didn’t push hard enough and just went for the easy stuff, so I went back where I left to complete my first set. Unexpectedly, it just took 24 hours to create the last five photos.

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Number five was taken with my brand new Fujifilm Instax mini 90 (it was actually my first shot with it). I placed the Nikon over the book that inspired me the most when I was a kid and probably shaped my taste forever (the photography of Irving Penn)1.

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Six and seven are the result of a quick-and-dirt light painting, a technique I rarely use. Number seven underwent a slight analog-emulation treatment in Color Efex Pro, just to put a bit more focus on the light trails.

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For nine and ten I borrowed my mother’s iPhone 5s (which used to be mine) because my Olloclip lens doesn’t fit on my 6s anymore. One at 10×, another one at 15×. Again, better results than expected and two shot I wouldn’t take if I wasn’t on assignment.

After that I found a picture I casually took of my small Canon Selphy printer spitting out a print of photo number 4 and I added it to the bunch – kind of a “meta” statement.

11. Bonus!

Conclusions. Being on assignment made me:

  1. Think
  2. Physically set things up
  3. Fight laziness
  4. Be purposeful
  5. Ask myself if I was really pushing my boundaries, not just the ones of the assignment
  6. Take pictures I wouldn’t take and discover that some are better than average
  7. Dedicate some time to being creative, setting it as a goal and not just a by-product of my normal life

 


  1. Actually there’s another one: Alfred A. Blaker, “Photography: Art and Technique” ↩︎