Visual & Writing Exercise
Day 1 | 15 minutes
Identify a person, place, or thing that is visually interesting to you. Take 100 pictures in 5 minutes or less.
Twelve significant photographs in
any one year is a good crop.
— Ansel Adams
Think about all the different variables that we work with when composing an image. Experiment with centering, symmetry, asymmetry — think about all the terms in your visual vocabulary and experiment with these variables. Play with foreground and background elements. Vary your distance to your subject. Take some long shots, but then get progressively closer. Focus in on particular elements. Take some super close-ups. Try different angles and perspectives. Photograph your subject from low to the ground, take some shots from above.
Work quickly and don’t over-think. Exhaust all the possibilities, then keep shooting. Be a zen master: push through boredom to fascination.
After you have completed your 100 shots, take 10 more minutes to write down some reflections on this experience. Here are some suggestions for writing prompts:
- How easy or difficult was this exercise?
- Did you encounter any internal resistance?
- Did you get frustrated or bored?
- Where and when did the resistance occur, and how did you push past it?
- Were there any surprises?
- Did you learn anything new about this subject?
Set your 100 pictures aside and don’t look at them for the rest of the day.
Day 2 | 30 minutes
The following day, spend about 15 minutes reviewing your 100 pictures. Separate out 10 images that you think are the most successful.
Now spend 15 minutes in reflective writing.
- Of the 10 pictures you identified, is there any pattern to where in the shooting process they occurred?
- Did they happen mostly in the beginning, towards the end, or are they pretty much evenly scattered throughout the group of 100?
- Can you remember what you were thinking or feeling when you took these shots?
- Are your thoughts and feelings about these shots different after letting a day pass?
- As you review the entire group of 100 images, what changes do you see occurring in your vision from beginning to end?
- Are there any take away lessons from this?
- Do you feel differently about your subject now?
Would you be inclined to repeat this exercise with a different subject?
The purpose of this exercise is to help you loosen up and become comfortable with shooting prolifically when you encounter a subject that interests you. Don’t worry about being excessive. Hunt and gather first. Cast a wide net as you collect raw data. Exhaust all possibilities. You can critique and analyze later.