A short while ago I wrote about my attempts to take a photograph a day during 2023. I am continuing to fail at it but one of the reasons for trying is because I wanted to think more about my photography and why I take photographs. I did not want to take a photograph everyday for the sake of taking a photograph; I wanted to do it for a reason.
One of the methods I have used to help me with this is to keep a journal of the photographs I take each day. When I take a photograph I print a copy of it out and paste it into a notebook alongside a few comments about the photograph – why I took the photograph, how I felt at the time and so on.
The act of photography slows down.
This grounds me in the process of making the photograph and slows the act of photography down. There is now much more to it than simply seeing something and photographing it. I have to put paper in the printer, turn it on, make a print, stick into the notebook and then write a few comments about it. It becomes a bigger deal to take the photograph and so it makes me think more about what and why I am photographing.
I am more engaged with the subject
The journal can also be useful in helping me engage with my subject. For some of the photographs I will go away and do some research on the subject to include in the journal. This adds to my understanding of what I am trying to photograph and hopefully makes me see it more than just an interesting object.
The photograph becomes physical
Printing the photographs makes the image physical. Too often most of our photographs never see the light of day. They hide in the darkness on our phone or in some cloud or other we barely have any knowledge of. We might share them with a few people but ultimately they are just so many pixels floating in space. A photographic print is an object in itself; making a print makes us think about the image and the process of photography.
Keeping a journal is also a physical act and it provides a record; sometimes I will browse through the photographs in one of the journals I have put together and recall where I was at the time. It helps me relive the moment and can act as an inspiration for more photographs.
If you are stuck for photographic ideas perhaps keeping a journal might help. I have been trying to do it once a day but perhaps you could back through your old photographs and include them in a journal on a specific subject? Whatever you decide I would recommend giving it a go!