Your Theme Song

Theme [theem] n.  a recurring, unifying subject, idea or motif as in a work of art

As part of my digital photography course, each student chose two different themes to explore throughout the semester. If you have been reading along, it will come as no big surprise that one of my themes is “Street Art”. An unusual subject, it is true. But as this topic continues to fascinate and challenge me, I want to continue my explorations as part of a formal portfolio-building exercise.

My other chosen theme is “Urban Abstracts”. I want to expand my photographic vision to see abstract geometry in the structures around us; to find a way to frame the world into the simplest elements of line and composition.

I have found that this focus on photographic themes has provided clarity to my image-making efforts. Of course, I have a natural proclivity for “assignments” of any sort – the structure and order of a unifying idea holds great appeal.

John Paul Caponigro was a recent guest on Scott Kelby’s blog – he wrote a wonderful and insightful post on developing personal projects.  You don’t have to be a professional to benefit from creating a personal project:

“Many amateurs, making images purely for the love of doing it, find greater satisfaction and personal growth through personal projects… A project is a wonderful thing. It gives direction. It brings clarity. It increases productivity. It produces tangible results. It brings personal growth. It presents your work in the very best light. You and your work deserve this.”

Scott Bourne at Photofocus also praised the importance of giving yourself assignments in this post.

Are you actively working on a photography project? Does your work have a theme? Is there a common thread that runs throughout your work?

Sometimes the thread isn’t even known to us until we look for it. Kat Sloma, (The Kat Eye View of the World) discovered a series in her work after the fact. I believe it is through these connections and associations that our photography becomes deeper and more satisfying.

Have you found this to be true?


Posted on April 1, 2011, in Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’ll be halfway through my 365 this week! It has been an amazing and affirming project so far, partly because it is an act of giving myself the space to create and grow. It is also a place to wander through different kinds of photographic expression to find what works for and appeals to me. I’m all for projects!

    • Congrats on your 365 halfway marker!

      I am into my second 365 project and I agree that it is an amazing creativity starter. When I conciously think about picking up the camera EVERY DAY, it strengthens my ability to see and gives me the goal of recognizing the beauty that can be found each and every day. I have had days when life has intervened and I have not obtained that daily photo. I just pickup up the camera the next day and start again. For someone with perfectionistic tendencies, letting go of the “no photo” days has been as important as maintaining my 365 project goals.

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