Sunday, December 17, 2017

2018 | The One Word

There are many benefits to doing a 365 Day Photography Project. Words like perseverance, determined, focused, discipline, improved, all come to mind. But I have also discovered that I am so focused on getting that one great good photograph for the day that something has become lost. I have lost the ability to tell the story that a series of good photographs can convey.

Last week I put on my bravery bonnet and submitted this photograph to the FaceBook Group that goes with David duChemin's photography class - The Compelling Frame. This is what I wrote to accompany the photograph: 

"For the most part I have been happy to sit back and read what others post, enjoy their photography, occasionally comment and leave it there. You know the scary thing...sharing your own photography, yes I have been trying to avoid it. But, honestly how is that going to help my growth. This week, I took an idea from a challenge in another group I am in and went to the laundromat. I have wanted to do a personal project at a laundromat for the last two years. Monday I conquered fear and the curious looks from other laundromat patrons and took my camera out. First scary obstacle cleared, now the second...sharing a photo here."

I wasn't looking for feedback or praise. I simply wanted to push myself to start sharing in the group. But I got good feedback anyway, even from the instructor himself:

"Very geometric. Very isolated. I find it hard to give good feedback on this one because I don't know where you're at in the learning process, Sarah. If you're closer to the beginning this is an excellent exercise in geometry and in creating a clear subject. If you're further along then I'd like to see the whole series and see if there isn't something there with more story, or more of an emotional hook, or stronger conceptual contrasts, perhaps."

In his response was the WORD that had been hammering on my creative heart for the last few weeks - STORY. I knew exactly what he was talking about and I knew that I had let what made my photography compelling in 2016 slip away - the STORY. 

Once I opened my heart to the Word, I remembered the Adobe Spark stories that I did at the end of 2016, my favorite being the one titled Connections that I shot at our public library with my daughter. But that raised another question that I posed to David along with this photograph...

Question - Is it wrong to set the story up? 

The overwhelming response was: No, it isn't wrong to stage the story. Even when we frame a landscape photograph from our own perspective, we are skewing what we want people to see. 

Again David's response spoke to something deep inside me...

"I’m inclined to side with the masses on this one. I have no problem with setting the stage like this. Cinematographers do it all the time. Novelists put their characters where and how they want. I’ll say it again, where art is concerned: there ain’t no rules and there is no “should” except what you desire and what serves your intent."

It was the single sentence "Cinematographers do it all the time." 

That sentence gave the nod to something else that has been rumbling around in my head. An on-line course taught by Xanthe Berkeley called Make Films. I have a strong urge to explore film making. I feel the experience will contribute greatly to my ability to create stories. The course begins January 9, 2018. I haven't decided for sure yet, but I have written on my desk calendar on Tuesday, December 26 - Decide on Xanthe Film Class!

My One Word for 2018 is STORY...


  1. Awesome word :-) May you have a happy Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings and adventure!

  2. This is great. Can't wait to hear your decision and hope you continue to share

  3. A lovely thought provoking post. your word is what we all strive to do with our photos. Have a wonderful Christmas .

  4. personally I love the photo of the dryer door, I thank you for sharing your insights on story,
    I hope you can take the class

  5. Exciting developments... taking steps boldly into your continued growth, expressing personal and creative power always is! The potential is there, waiting for you.

  6. Yessss! Story is going to be your word. It feels perfect. I found it interesting that David duChemin commented that he wanted to know where you were in your process - pressing you to answer the question for yourself. I still haven't picked my word. It's bearing down on me, though. I can feel it.

  7. I haven't chosen a word yet for next year, or perhaps it hasn't chosen me. I have to say, I like the last picture of the open dryer door better than the B&W one, because it does feel like it has a story in it.

  8. I appreciate this post so much. I love how you challenge yourself and in doing so you indirectly challenge us. The first picture, the one you submitted, really drew me in because I was struggling to want to know what the glass door of the dryer was obscuring. I wanted to know what was behind that door. I'll be anxious to know what you decide about the class....

  9. Good word! I'll look forward to seeing where this adventure takes you.

  10. Good for you! I would find both of those hurdles scary - and you did it! When you advised me to look at my photos, I found that the word "story" or "meaning" entered into my choices. I really like David duChemin's approach - and have a couple of his books, which I read through often. I am looking forward to seeing what you decide and what the next step of your journey will be.

  11. Ah video! Welcome to a new learning curve! : )

    In the meantime here’s a very relevant Ernest Haas quote that has stuck with me since I stumbled across it:

    “To express dynamic motion through a static moment became for me limited and unsatisfactory. The basic idea was to liberate myself from this old concept and arrive at an image in which the spectator could feel the beauty of a fourth dimension, which lies much more between moments than within a moment. In music one remembers never one tone, but a melody, a theme, a movement. In dance, never a moment, but again the beauty of a movement in time and space."

    From here:

  12. i love this post you wrote more than any other that I've read from you. It spoke deeply to me. And I say YES sign up for the film course, and create story with film and words. Blessings for the new year.

  13. Lovely images that all tell a story! A great word for a renewed creative journey!

  14. This is so great, and inspiring, too! Happy making in 2018!

  15. A great word, Sarah.
    One with so many, many possibilities.
    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, and a bright and beautiful New Year.

  16. Yes! I've been thinking that I want to begin something similar. The "scene and story" series really got me thinking how much I want to do more. Even though I only participated a few times. I have the stories in my head, both ideas of photographs telling the story and of the story also making the photograph.

    1. Which is what staging is "the story making the photograph". It's okay and it's an art itself.

  17. I think it's really interesting to take photos of things you don't normally photograph, especially ones of such places as the laundromat.

  18. There's a wonderful laundromat here in town called, "Sit-n-Spin". not only can you wash your clothes there, but you can also chow down on burgers and fries. How cool is that? anyway, after reading your post, I'm going to be Big & Brave an ego take some random laundromat shots this week. Who knows? Maybe I'll strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and find out his story. ; )

  19. I was sitting on the floor at Barnes and Noble just yesterday looking at David DuChemin's books. I couldn't decide which one to buy, they all looked good. :) I love how David told you setting up a photograph to tell a story was ok. It is somehow freeing. I always thought setting up the photo-story would be considered 'cheating'. Thank you for sharing this with us today. Your photo-stories are excellent, as usual. Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas.


Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)