Four Images to Define the New Year

An architectural detail of an entryway to a peeling painted lady Victorian style home in Dover, New Hampshire

Happy New Year! This year, I thought I would share an old photography exercise with you that I might like to revisit now that it’s a new year. With the new year comes a lot of resolutions. Rather than sit back and say, “I resolve to…” and jot off a list of things I may or may not get done over the course of the next 365 days, I thought it more fitting to offer up a more introspective exercise for the new year. This is one I think you can also participate, so I’m sharing with you, much the same way it was shared with me. Now, I’m not going to suggest one of those “enter a shot a day” type of competitions, because I view these as a bit off the mark as well. I mean, it’s great if you can manage to fire off, process, and post a shot a day, hats off to you for that, but I think that just randomly shooting one a day doesn’t make for better images, rather it makes for more images. Granted, a lot of times more images do produce better images, but I thought that, seeing as it’s a new year, a more thoughtful approach was in order, so I dusted off this old exercise. This one is, I feel, an oldie but a goodie, so I’m sharing with you now in the hopes that you will find some value from it as well.

For this exercise, you are going to be selecting four images that are going to define your new year. The four images are:

  1. Pick an image that inspires you. This can be any image, it does not have to be one you shot. In fact, it’s probably better if it isn’t one that you shot yourself. Pick an inspirational image. It doesn’t even have to be an image, it could be a composition of any kind, even perhaps a piece of music or another form of art. Basically, what I’m saying here is, “pick an inspiration.” 
  2. Pick an image you have crafted that you feel is your best work. For this image, I am asking you to select one you either shot yourself or had a significant hand in shooting (if you collaborated that’s fine.) Basically, pick something you love, something you are proud of, select your best work. It doesn’t have to be from the past year, it can be from any year. You’re going for the best here. Your absolute best of the best and, yes, you must pick just one, not like a set or anything. One image and one alone should be selected. 
  3. Congratulations! You have just been selected to take one of the first trips to Mars on the spiffy newfangled Mars rover.  This is a wonderful opportunity and you are going to be traveling to the red planet. Unfortunately, it is a one way trip. That’s right, you have been selected to colonize a new planet and, as part of this selection, you are going to go up and populate planet Mars. The space ship in which you will be traveling has limited room for your belongings. Space is limited here but you are allowed to bring a few personal items to make the new planet feel like home. As part of the journey, you can select one image to bring with you. What image will it be? This should be your number 3 selection for this exercise. 
  4. Same scenario different image. You are still going up in the mars rover only to never return again. This time, I’m asking you which image you would like to leave behind. You get to select one image of yours to leave behind, here on planet earth, from which we will always remember you.

It’s an interesting exercise. I hope you enjoy doing it. I’ll post my answers at some point and tell you what I think they mean.

Think about how these four images might change over the course of 2019. I think that, if you change your four images in any way over the course of the year, you have changed your photographic vision some, and that’s more valuable than any meaningless resolutions or 365 competitions. I hope this exercise helps in some way in the new year.

Happy New Year and good luck with your “Four Images to Define the New Year.”

Until next time…

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