What inspired you to begin your 365 Project?
My ability to find a reason not to bother with setting up a photograph was improving faster than my skill at taking them. I knew I needed a disciplined setting that would force me to become so familiar and fast with my gear that I would stop seeing that as a hurdle. I had participated the Strobist Boot Camp II, and found that challenge and structure immensely motivational. I work well with rules and I hate not hitting deadlines, so I knew that a 365 project would keep me on track.
How would you describe your photography in just a few words?
I really thought that the process of doing a 365 project would lead to a discovery of my style, but I generally found myself drawn to trying new things rather than refining a particular approach. I am definitely obsessed with light, however, and am happiest when I can control it to sculpt my image. I hold out the hope that someone with more perspective will let me know what my style is!
What surprised you the most about doing the 365 project?
The amount of time it took every day! That's all my doing, of course - I was rarely satisfied with a quick snap. When I take into account the time spent envisioning and planning upcoming shoots, the gathering of materials and setup of gear, the light tests and composition tweaking, the selection of the final shot, the post-processing, and finally the interaction on Flickr with other inspiring photographers - I probably put in an average of three or four hours a day.
What did you learn during the course of your project?
I really learned how to see light. What at the beginning took much trial and error to discover I can now set up almost right from the start. I also learned the importance of previsualization to a good image. Any thinking ahead of time that I could do about what I wanted to capture dramatically increased my chances of ending up with a quality photograph. It's still important to be open to serendipity, but as they say, chance favors the prepared mind.
Do you have an interesting story about taking one of your 365 photos that you would like to share?
The Adventures of Mr. Pumpkinhead, Part II was a bit of an adventure to make. It was one of those times when I had a pretty clear vision in my head of what I wanted to create, and it required a lot of props. Finding a large enough pumpkin was the first challenge - it was a week before Halloween and the selection was not as good as it had been for the first Pumpkinhead creation (that one had moldered too much to be reused). I believed we looked in three or four locations before finding a suitable 30 pound monster of a gourd. I gathered picnic goods at the same time, and that took two different grocery stores. By the time we had everything ready, it was getting close to the cemetery closing hour of 4pm. My assistant/model and I explored for a bit to find just the right spot, then I set up lights while he fetched all of our props. I cleared away the remains of a dead bird (so appropriate to the location!), but we still battled ants through the shoot. They sure know how to find a picnic! In the end I had a great image and we had a tasty feast to enjoy for dinner.
What are your future photography plans?
As wonderful as this project has been for my development, I am ready to reclaim those three to four hours a day for more flexible use. I think a 52 week project will be ideal to keep me thinking photographically on a regular basis while allowing more leeway in how I plan my time. I look forward to shooting more for Getty and other stock agencies, and I hope to find a few individual clients as well. I'd also love the opportunity to put together a gallery show of some of my 365 images!
Here are Allison's favorites and a slideshow of her project:
I work (making costumes for the Los Angeles Opera) across the street from a Japanese/Korean supermarket, and their fish selection included these giant salmon heads. I had to wrest a pair of tongs out of the claws of a live crab to put one in my bag, and I made my husband drill a hole in the skull to hold the candle. I also had to use a toothpick inside the fish's mouth to hold it open. But despite, or perhaps because of, all that ickyness, the resulting image is fantastic. Cute and gross at the same time, my favorite!
In addition to being a pleasing arrangement of beautiful natural objects, this photograph is a favorite of mine because it is like a shorthand for all that we've done to turn what was a scorched-earth lot of land into a sort of urban Eden. For me each leaf brings up an image of that particular plant or tree, where it is and how it got there.
Baby Bok Choy
This one I love just for its beauty. The vegetable had a pleasing, asymmetrical shape, perfect contrasting veins, and a delicate texture to the leaves. I'm happy with my lighting and just smile with pleasure every time I see the image.