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 2: Whittle It Down, Add It Up

A while ago I was driving from San Francisco to Pleasanton, California, for a photo shoot. Just past Castro Valley I pulled over to take a leak and there, on the side of the rolling hills, was a herd of grazing cows. A pastoral scene, the light was beautiful. My assistant asked if I was going to photograph it. I replied, “What would I do with a photo like that?”.

A photo of that bucolic scene would be useless to me. I mean, I see it and appreciate it, but it’s not how I see things (if you know what I mean). But why would I want to take (or make) a photo just because it conforms to some standard definition of Beautiful, or Nice Light, or Wow?

Sure, that might rob me of some simple joy . . . the joy of producing a generic, crowd- pleasing photo. But I find no joy in that. What satisfies me is creating images that show, illuminate and propound my biases, the way I see my world.

Pleasanton, California
Pleasanton, California

What I like to do is generate a pile of pictures that show me permutations of the idea or concept I’m working on. I’m not interested in photographing the same thing the same way over and over. I want complexity and options so that, when it comes to the edit/ sequence, I can whittle that pile down, add it up and arrive at some conclusion. That’s what I like to do with photos.

Of course the taking of the photos, the time spent out in the world looking, feeling, thinking and being open is integral to the process. And it gets me out of the house, which is another reason I photograph. I enjoy the activity.

I’ve been out eleven nights now working on this new thing and I’ve got 76 pix in a folder called Possible Selects . . .

Me, at night
Possible selects

Occasionally I root through those, put them in little 4 or 5 photo sequences to see what I’ve done, what I’m doing. I look for possibilities and for flukes that add up in unexpected ways. And what I’m seeing (as usual) is that some of my initial ambitions for this project are less sure. Conversely, things that I never imagined are presenting themselves and showing me a way forward.

That’s the reason I take photos.

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