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 5: The Garden

Except for designing the book and launching it, my latest project is finished. Even though it’s now February (ed note: when this was written) I’m not planning on launching the book until May.

Even so, time has a way of passing and before you know it, well . . . the time has come (and gone). So I thought I’d peck away at some of the tasks that need to be seen to before the event.

First thing, I need to give it a title. I don’t like the titles I assign to my work to be too explanatory or prescriptive, I want them to only point in a general direction. Getting that right can be tricky.
I’d been thinking about what to call this project for a few weeks (maybe more). I made a list of title ideas, but they all seemed wrong. Then, out of the blue a title that feels really right just popped into my head. I’m pretty sure that that’s because the front-of-the-brain thinking I’d been doing set up a chain of back-of-the-brain events. My subconscious was chewing away on the problem all by itself. And that often leads to better, less mediated, and maybe even more pure, results.

Of course, it (the title) had to pass the front-of-the-brain test to make sure it actually works. And it does.

The Garden.

Now I had the title it was time to design the cover.

I enlisted good friend, mentor to many, and ace designer Michael Tardioli to do the designing. (I’d been showing him the project as I was working on it so he had a good sense of its tone.) He dropped by the other day, we drank some coffee, chewed the fat, and then he got down to the task at hand.

It’s so much fun to take a back seat to someone who knows and respects my work. I watched Michael, seemingly effortlessly, whipping the cover into shape. No drama. He asked a few questions, tried a few permutations, finessed some finishing touches and there you have it. Plain and simple, just the way I like it.

Finally, I needed to write a Project Statement.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I dislike Artist Statements that use art-speak and attach all kinds of meaning to the work. In my opinion that kind of Statement is most often wishful thinking and/or an attempt to direct (fool) the viewer. If the work is any good I figure folks will arrive at their own conclusion just by looking at it.

So I have to put my money where my mouth is, don’t I?

When I was nearing the end of sequencing The Garden I made a list of words and phrases that (for me) defined the work. I thought that would be useful to fine-tune the sequence. (And it was.)

I pulled that list up on the screen, referenced it, and the statement pretty much wrote itself.

The Garden is the third in my series of projects that are speculative (fiction), rather than fact-based (documentary).

Episodic, impressionistic, mysterious, The Garden is drawn from the streets. A fairy tale or maybe just a trip. The protagonist makes their way through a city in some strange twilight. There is destruction, decay, loneliness and, in the end, an encounter. Is this the garden? Where is the comfort?

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