A new 8 part miniseries where Ottawa Photographer Tony Fouhse takes us through his new project, from the first photo to the book launch. Tony is an internationally exhibited and collected photographer who was formerly a full time editorial/commercial photographer. These posts originally appeared in his newsletter HYPO which you can subscribe to here to see more of his work visit his website here.

To pre-order Tony’s book go here.

Anatomy Of A Project
Episode Nº 1: Genesis

I’ve begun a new project and, well, I guess that’s what I’m going to write about . . . the process, thought patterns, tribulations and progress as the project progresses. I do this because writing about the work in progress, as it’s in progress, helps me understand what I might be trying to do.

There are two ways my projects begin . . .

One: I become interested in learning about some location and/or demographic and set about photographing it. I like to allow the camera and the subject matter to lead the way . . . I follow along and ponder.

Two: I snap a certain number of photos for social media. 99.9% of those photos mean almost nothing to me. But every so often I end up with an image that, for some mysterious reason, ignites my imagination. It shows me a possibility I feel I might pursue. That’s the case with my new project.

Here’s the photo that was the genesis of this new project . . .

Late on June 8th I had a look out the front door before I went to bed. There was a car pulled over up the road, lights left on illuminating my neighbour’s Iris. Thought it’d make swell, easy social media viewing so I snapped a few pix.

Next day, when I loaded it into my computer I was somehow affected. I thought of the mysteries that happen when the sunlight disappears and the city is only illuminated by artificial light. I thought about The Coast, by Sohrab Hura; I thought
about Grand Circle Diego, by Cyril Costilhes. Not that I wanted my photos to look like theirs, direct-flash-after- dark is not for me. But the feel of that photo of the irises somehow reminded me of their work.

I didn’t stop to wonder why this particular photo had that effect, I just surrendered to the magic, trusted my instinct. The next night I wandered the streets looking for the next (or at least another) picture that might be informed by what I had seen in that photo. And wouldn’t you know it . . . I ended up with five I thought might be useful. (Useful is the word I use when working on projects to describe the images I set out to generate. Whether they are “Good” or Bad” doesn’t, at this point, enter into the equation.)

Here are a couple . . .

I have no idea if these will end up in the final edit, at this point all I’m trying to do is find possibilities. Each new possibility is a signpost pointing some way forward. As the signposts accrue I get a little bit lost (which I like) and the whole thing becomes more complicated (which I like).

When I’m working on a project I don’t shoot from a list, don’t have some predetermined template. I want to use the camera to discover. Matthew Genitempo states the process very eloquently. He says, “I just wait to see what the pictures are doing, and then I follow that. And once I can see what direction I’m intuitively heading in, then I begin to imagine the entire project.”

These are early days. I’m sure there will be twists, wrong turns and discoveries as this thing unrolls. I’m just beginning to see, nothing is written in stone.

And that first photo, the one that started me on this path? I’m pretty sure it has served its purpose and I will find no other use for it.


For the nerds out there . . . All pix shot after dark using available light only.

SONY RX100 V point and shoot (on manual), ISO usually at 3200. Typical exposure between 1/4th and 1/60, f/2.8, handheld.

I’ll leave you with that bit of camera porn.

If you have the time and inclination you can follow along as I work this thing out.

We’ll see.

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