This is the second of a four-part series of blog posts on Storytelling in Photography. Ira Glass of “This American Life” is a man of insight and created a series of 4 videos for “aspiring” Journalist and Broadcasters, But I’ve been very inspired with what he had to say as I applied his theories to my own genre, photography.  Here are my thoughts on the second video.

In his second video, Ira Glass talks about how important it is to find a good story and how in your pursuit of a good story, you will need to make dramatic cuts to stories that don’t work as well as make room for luck to come into play.

When I watched this video, I applied his comments on finding a good story to finding a good photo project. I believe strongly that as photographers and image makers, a great technique to keep us fresh and inspired, is to have multiple photo projects “on the fire” that we constantly work on. It’s great for many reasons such as, allowing us to tune our problem solving abilities, practicing our technical skills, and practice setting up shoots, among many others.

Ira Glass stressed the importance of killing stories that don’t make the cut. Sometimes when we come up with a great idea for a project and do our first couple of shoots, something about the idea doesn’t seem to come together. As image makers, I for one am guilty of this, tend to fall in love with the idea and have a hard time letting go. Ira says we should be ruthless in the killing of these projects when they don’t work, and by killing them or setting them aside for the time being, we’ll be able to move on to something that does work. Some may think of this a failure, I don’t see it that way. I see it as an opportunity to do better. Either way, the point Ira makes is that we should be happy with this “failure” because it allows us the freedom to move forward, and this is a good thing. He also states that there is a added benefit to being so ruthless in cutting ideas that don’t work, the benefit being, it allows the element of luck to come into play. The idea of luck in photography is not an unique one. But it takes constant production from us, the image maker, for luck to come into play at all. There is an old adage “Luck is where preparation meets opportunity”. So the more we prepare (produce) the more chance (opportunity) we have for luck to show up in our work. What do I mean by luck? Well, to me luck is one of those moments where the results are more than we expected. It can be a technical thing where shooting something a certain way gives us a result that may look better than we expected. Or it can be a combination of elements that come together in a way that it give us a moment of epiphany, where the idea has grown and evolved more than where we were initially intended. It grows to be something special, and we want our stories or projects to be special.

Constant production, in our case as photographers, is the backbone of increasing our skills as image makers. The saying, “Practice makes Perfect” applies to photographers in a direct way, especially considering photography is a skill of matching the image that we make in our minds with the image we produce in its final form.

So find yourself a personal photo project! It will be one of the best things you have done for yourself.

Please use the comments below to tell us about your personal project. We love to see people making images that they are passionate about, and hey, it may get you in our magazine!! We love when image makers push their own limits and push the limits in photography. Can’t wait to see what you’ve been working on!