Monday, September 8, 2008

Should we ditch rounds?

Here's the deal. We all have unique, unpredictable schedules. Even when we make time to shoot, something like weather may interfere or the photos may not turn out well. Working on a tight schedule is hard, especially when you aren't getting paid for it.

For example, last week I shot some photos downtown. I felt great about them as I was shooting, but once I got them back and uploaded them to my PC, I realized they were boring and actually bad. They looked like they were taken by someone who needed to learn the rule of thirds rather than by someone who had moved beyond it. Only one of them made my final set for the assignment (which I will post shortly) and then only after extensive work in the GIMP.

All of this is to say I am thinking about getting rid of the rounds. I don't think we need to do away with due dates, but if we don't have rounds, one person's delays don't affect other participants. It will make things more complicated once we have more than two people actively participating and we rotate whom is assigning whom, but I think we can keep up with it.

Here's how I see this working. Once someone posts a set of photos, his next assigner gives him his next assignment within a day or two with a due date about two weeks from the assignment date. The time period for the assignment can vary depending on the complexity and the photographer's schedule. This will require the assigner to check Google Reader regularly so that the photographer doesn't spend a week with nothing to shoot. The assigner should also be thinking of assignments ahead of time, so that he can post one quickly. The photographer should make every effort to meet the due date, but if he cannot, it will not throw off the whole system.

I like the way rounds keep things orderly and provide labels for grouping, but I think the flexibility afforded us by doing away with them is more valuable. What does everyone (photographers and readers alike) think of this idea?


Nathan L said...

I prefer the round-less setup with my schedule. I'll brainstorm more with you after the weekend.

Nathan L said...

I want to throw out one more suggestion, although I realize it does partially run against the conceptual grain of the blog. Would you consider, at least for the beginning, withdrawing assignments and asking photographers to submit what they've been working on? Thus the site would begin with a library of what the photographers are comfortable doing. These photos would receive feedback from readers and photographers. Then, once we've got a feel for what each photographer is comfortable with, where his interests are, and where he should be stretched, we could start giving out assignments.

I think, too, that this approach would pump photographers up. Folks who have been travelling, or just captured this amazing image, would be free to post it and receive feedback.

This method would also work with deadlines, even with rounds if we wanted.

Like I said, I know this would shake things up a lot, and it's ok if we don't go with it.

Stephen said...

I certainly think that unassigned photos can be posted on Half a Stop. If anyone has a photo or set to share and/or on which to get feedback, he should post it. Hopefully this will fit into the narrative of the blog and not overshadow the assignment-response cycle, but it doesn't need to be rare.

I like to think that we have a general idea of each other's photography style and skill. I don't think we need to go through all our old photos and post best-of sets. If anyone has something he is working on, though, especially if it is of an assignment-esqe form, he should post it. I hope I will learn to approach all my photography opportunities with that mindset, coming up with objectives and/or boundaries for myself that will help me make better photos. If you are already there, I would love to see the results. I just find that it is hard to create effective assignments for myself. Unless I am traveling, I rarely get out and shoot if I don't have some external motivation. I always think about shooting the same things, and the thought bores me. The photos would probably be boring too.

The same input ("Shoot a photo.") into the same system (me) under the same conditions (in Huntsville) lead to the same results (boring!). As chaos theory has taught us, even a slight change to the inputs ("Photograph the color green.") can create unexpectedly different results (woo-hoo!).

All of this is to say that I need assignments; let's see what you've done without them.