One of the benies I get from reading Aline Smithsoon's LENSCRATCH, in addition to viewing the interesting pictures from a wide variety of picture makers, is Aline's regular mentions, re: picture exhibition submission opportunities. While I am not a fan of submitting pictures to picture competitions, I often enjoy viewing the final selections thereof.
My favorite form of group picture exhibitions is the type Aline often conducts / publishes on L E N S C R A T C H - every submission is accepted / published. Her most recent exhibition, the 2012 LENSCRATCH Holiday Exhibition, can be viewed here. I did not participate in that exhibition but I have in others, to include the next exhibition, YOUR FAVORITE PHOTO FROM 2012, which will be published on January 1, 2013.
All of that written, the reason I bring up the topic, picture competitions, is because most competitions are conducted around a specific theme-based submission criteria. I have taken to using some of those individual themes as a guide for viewing my picture library with the intention of identifying individual theme-based bodies of work which are "hidden" within my library of nearly 5,000 pictures and counting.
That viewing M.O. has surprised me by the number of unintentionally created bodies of work there are lurking within my total body of work. And, by identifying them, I am now able to organize and work toward intentionally expanding those bodies of work.
As an example, I never set out, with the deliberated intention, to create a body of work entitled Rain. However, over time I have, in fact, made lots of pictures in and of the rain. While I made those pictures as a result of my picturing what I see M.O., to be honest, I never thought of those pictures as an individual body of work which was independent from my total body of work. Nevertheless, the Rain pictures have emerged, by dint of theme-based viewing of the pictures in my library, from the total mass of my picturing endeavors as a legitimate stand alone body of work.
FYI, that written, it should be understood that I have worked on several bodies of work which, from day two, were undertaken as intentionally created individual bodies of work. Good examples of those would be; single women, decay & disgust, pictures windows, art reflects, and tangles. However, please note (as written), I began to pursue these bodies of work in earnest on day two, not on day one, because ....
(I usually found that if I had a preconceived idea for a project it wouldn’t amount to much. Discovery — an aggressive receptivity, if you will — of what is in the landscape provides the inspiration for new ideas. ~ Richard Misrach)
... while it has often been stated / written that, in order to be successful in one's endeavor to make good pictures, one should choose a referent one cares about and then set about picturing it, IMO, there is a better way to go about selecting a referent for in-depth investigation, picture making wise ....
There's a whole world out there and, therefore, a whole world of picturing possibilities. Although, from that nearly endless array, a few picturing possibilities might enter one noggin based upon familiarity and culturally conditioned habitual thinking, IMO, one might be better served by spending a fair amount of time and effort picturing anything and everything within the range of one's environs and regular daily life. And then ...
.... after amassing an extensive number of pictures, take a long look at the results to see what, picturing without thinking about it, pricked your eye and sensibilities. I'd be surprised if something doesn't stand out, seemingly unbidden, like a sore thumb, screaming for continued attention.
My previously mentioned bodies of work were conceived on (symbolic) day one when, as I was picturing anything and everything, my eye and sensibilities were pricked by something which, in a very real sense, came as a surprise to my rational / conscious picturing mind. That is to write, I wasn't born wanting to picture decay, tangles, or picture windows (et al). Rather, I discovered those picturing interests by mucking about, picture making wise, all over the place on a wide picturing landscape.
(symbolic) Day two dawned when I awoke to and clothed myself in picturing possibilities hitherto unimagined.
Anyone out there tried looking, theme-based wise, at your work to find "hidden" bodies of work? And, if you have an ongoing body of work, how did you come upon it?