Week 10 of my Ocoloy photography project. All I can use in this photography project is one camera, one lens for one year (hence Ocoloy or OC/OL/OY). This feels like a serious milestone and there are some lessons learned already. After all, it is an exercise disguised as photography project. At the same time, isn’t every project also an opportunity to learn form?
So, ten weeks into my Ocoloy project I sat down to review the past period and write down my findings so far. These are the lessons I have learned and the photos of last week.
No focus, no (ocoloy) photos
Of course you need to bring your camera. Everybody knows the saying: “The best camera is the one you have with you”. However, bringing your camera is necessary but not sufficient. You also need to be hunting for photo opportunities. Be aware of your surroundings. Be in the zone, as they say.
At times I was too preoccupied and busy to look for interesting scenes so I returned home without any pictures for ocoloy.
One camera, one lens is not the challenge
Being constricted to only one camera and one lens for a whole year does not feel like a limitation for me. I practically always shoot with my Fujifilm X-T1 with the XF 23mm f/1.4 R lens (35mm equiv.).
For me, the challenge is to go out and shoot. And keep going out, no matter what the conditions are. Of course there are days I think: the weather is bad, I’m busy, the light is flat, it’s cold, it’s late, I already took some photos this week… But even then it’s very rewarding to leave the house, take a walk and make some pictures. Here lies my challenge.
Streets have color too, you know
Legions of photographers out there think street photography should be in black and white. The reality, of course, is that B&W and color accentuate different aspects and result in different photos. Not better or worse. Different. For me, for now, I’m hooked on color street photos. The ones where the color splashes off the screen and in your face. Color adds value to the photo. I do appreciate nice black and whites but I like the color ones better.
Take Sally Davies’ work for example. I ran in to her last week (that’s a figure of speech). She creates the most colorful photos I have seen in a long time! Check out her work if you like color too.
1 pic-a-day or 7 pics-a-week
I like to make photos and get them online, share them with you. That’s why I post street photos here on my website, on Flickr and other places. It’s also fun to have this Ocoloy project to work on because it creates an extra drive to take your camera and hit the streets!
I did consider doing a 365-project myself, where you take one or more pictures every day and post one each day. As a matter of fact, I actually did start a 365-project. It became a 34-project… Need I say more?
The difficulty for me is to publish a photo every day. It doesn’t fit my work schedule and social life. I don’t have the opportunity to shoot and then to sit down and edit the pic of the day, every day. Weekly posts, however, I can manage (so far). The pressure is not too high and I can combine it with my work and family schedule.
Having said that, doing this Ocoloy project does give the extra push to constantly have my mind on photography. I love that.
Have a plan and allow yourself to get sidetracked!
It’s always good to have a goal. A goal helps you to get started, take out your camera, hit the streets and bring home some great shots. You can use a theme for your project like Danny Santos did in Shooting Strangers. You can constrain yourself to certain gear like I am doing now. Whatever you are doing for your personal projects, go for it.
While you’re out on the streets working on your project remember to stay open to everything else that wasn’t part of your plan. Stay open, stay alert, keep your eyes out for new opportunities to capture those momentary constellations of people, gestures, forms that only lasts a split second. You may miss that perfect shot if you stick to your plan too hard.
I am a nice-weather-street-photographer
I like some sunshine in my photos. People have told me to go out when it’s raining because you can create stunning images when people are hiding under umbrellas and walking a little bent over to protect themselves from the rain and wind. But I don’t want to be one of them. I haven’t made it my goal yet to be that photographer. I am a nice-weather-street-photographer.
I have also learned that I don’t want to stage photos. Not outside but also not inside. So that’s not an alternative to create pictures either when the weather has turned bad on me.
One thing I notice from doing the Ocoloy project is that it forces me to edit my photos more frequently. I am used to import my photos almost on a daily basis but now I have to edit them at least every week for the weekly post. I like that. It keeps me up to date with my photo archive (without having to do it on a daily basis).
Be flexible, also in your project rules
The digital variant of the Ocoloy exercise as posted by Mike Johnston on The Online Photographer has some strict requirements like having to print one photo every day. This is too strict for me and I figured this would only prevent me from doing the project altogether. Instead I decided to be flexible with this and formed my own rules. No requirements to print each day but post 6-8 photos every week.