Stories by Firelight

Collaboration. New Media. Re-purposing Content. Audience Building. These trendy buzzwords are reflective of how we’ve evolved as image-making pros, but what do we do with them? You’ll have to find your answer but maybe mine will help…

Although I like gadgets and enjoy exploring new tech and social outlets, I always end up going back to the fundamentals, the Old School, and bringing attention to what we do best – tell stories. A form of expression we’ve been doing in torchlit caves during primitive times. My newest project brings both of these impulses together in the “reboot” of an old project:

The Old Project

A seven-year documentary-meets-fine-art landscape still photography project shot in Iceland from 2001 to 2008. Result: several exhibits, printed catalog, short memoir flavored text to go with it, and a website to support the project. All that was missing was the Holy Grail/Coffee Table book.

The Reboot

Same images, totally different theme and approach. It’s now way more than an exhibition of prints. It dives into the travel memoir and will be supported by imagery that’s relevant to the project and expands on the new theme (which is currently being refined and locked down).

Start with a Plan

Adding a thematic and almost literary component to the Reboot sounds great but how can I make it work? Sure, an exhibition is obvious and will be launched after the initial showing of this in-flux creation. But how else can it be expanded? Creating video content is obvious. A short self-promotional documentary (without the ego) that digs into the motivations behind that project could work. I want to get personal with my audience since that’s a trend that I believe always has universal appeal. Sure, the images are already an extension of that, but there’s so much more to explore using video and interviews, and music.

Add in Collaboration

A good friend who has been working with me on a film score has been recruited for this project. Sure, I need a short atmospheric score created for this piece, but why not take it an extra step? Why not shoot the behind-the-scenes music creation process, then edit it seamlessly into a live performance recording of the score. Maybe two versions are created, one for the project and one that’s a separate music video. Cross-promotion is key.

Then Make it Bigger

To honor the inner tech geek in me, two words may create huge success for this project. Projection Mapping. It’s one thing to make all of these slick cutaways while performing an edit when telling a story. But I feel that many layers of a story are often hidden since all we have is one screen at a time to view. Here’s where PM enters. Simple concept. It’s a one projector show, with multiple video feeds projected onto whatever shape or sized surface you can create… Now, it’s imagination time.

My story ends here since the project is still in progress. Where it goes from here will be up to me and my ability to build a successful team. Its success will depend on finding new audiences to introduce to my capabilities and “rebooting” my established audience so they can see another dimension of my work. Will it work? I sure hope so. If nothing else, it will be a great example of how all these trends can come together to make something old new again.

Previously published on ASMP’s Strictly Business Blog.

John Welsh is a Philadelphia-based photographer and wrapping up his term as president of the Philadelphia ASMP chapter and looking forward to diving headlong into future trends. Sheila Hershey is a composer based in Delaware and is one of several that are part of the official Reboot crew.

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