“Architecture is the very mirror of life. You only have to cast your eyes on buildings to feel the presence of the past, the spirit of a place; they are the reflection of society.” – I.M. Pei

on the grid, chicago
Given this post and my last two, it seems my mind is on series lately. These kinds of things and creative thought processes tend to go in waves. Sometimes I’m too busy and caught up in the business-side of doing photography as a profession to take the time to see patterns developing or reflect on what the work means. But, that’s okay, that business-y stuff has to happen. Somehow, I always get back to the creative side.
on the grid, chicago
As I’ve mentioned in the past, my ideas around bodies of work and specific series tend to develop over time. I’m not the kind of person who has this epiphany of an idea and then shoots to fulfill that idea. I fall on the side of letting the work happen…noticing ideas, themes, compositions, moods, patterns, etc. reveal themselves over time. Sometimes all it takes is having two images I’ve shot on different occasions feel similarly. Once I see that, I start culling through old work to see if there’s a greater pattern or idea to work around, or images I’ve created in the past that, unknowingly, feel the same way.

That’s the start of the process. I then try to evaluate what those images can say as a set or series. To get started, I jot down ideas or things that tie the images together. For this particular series, all the images are very direct, straight on shots. They all have a grid-like feeling. Each reflects another portion of the city. There’s something about exploring the way cities are designed in a grid system and how to convey that through the images that I want to explore.
on the grid, chicago
I know this is basic, but it helps me in figuring out where to go next and how to continue to create images to add to the series. These are the things I’ll be on the lookout for when I’m shooting. Whether during a workshop, or a when shooting particular building for myself or a client. If I’m out without my camera and see a composition that would work well for an ongoing series (like my Urban Quilt series, or this), I’ll take a shot with my phone so I remember to come back to it. Once you’ve been drawn into photography, you tend to see images everywhere, all the time, even when you’re not in “photographer” mode. Not a bad thing, I think we tend to be more observant than most 😉
on the grid, chicago
Why explain my process? Well, it helps me to get all this out there, with others. It helps me work through the process. And it holds me accountable. More importantly, I hope it helps you. For a long time the whole idea of creating a series or project eluded me. I had no idea how to go about it, or how others did it. I wish I would have had insight into how others worked through this. Now that I have something that works for me, I figured I might as well share it with you in case you feel the way I used to. Sometimes the smallest thing someone else shares can help you move forward and get unstuck.

This is just the start of this series. We’ll see where it goes, if anywhere. Sometimes they do fall flat and I lose interest. But, if not, and a larger body of work comes from this, I’ll continue to evaluate how it makes sense. And because writing well and concisely and interestingly, particularly in conveying a bigger concept, is SO not my strength. I tend to enlist the help of a writer at some point. Particularly when I want to get the work published or exhibited.
We’ll see where this all goes. Thanks for sharing in my process! 🙂
on the grid, chicago
This last one…on the fence for now. This is Paris, so given the city has a slightly more chaotic grid I feel like it works in the overall idea. Time will tell…
on the grid, paris



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