The highs and lows of documentary photography

I’m sure every photographer knows this feeling, but today I hate my work. Yesterday I may have liked it, but it doesn’t matter much because today I hate it.

As the summer has progressed I’ve felt like I’ve been riding an emotional elevator when it comes to dealing with our prison project.

Some days I’m proud of the work I see hanging on our walls from the prison and other days I hate every single image up there. I guess it also boils down to the idea of feeling a lot of pressure to make sure we don’t let anyone down with this project.

The simple fact is this is the most time I’ve ever spent working on a project and probably the most time I’ll ever spend on a project non-stop like this. Short of moving into the prison, which Jenn and I actually thought of doing. We have lived and breathed this project daily and sometimes with “toxic” results to our sanity. Time off is a wonderful and needed thing.

The warden retires in less than a week and I want nothing more than this piece to be a thoughtful thank you to a man that has instilled in us so much faith and confidence. For us to walk freely inside an institution like this and doing it with cameras tells you the level of trust and confidence this man has in us. The staff, inmates, and frankly sometimes I find it amazing.

Now with only days left in the prison I’m hopeful that in six months, a year, ten years, or however long it takes us to produce this piece that it will all be worth it. Not for our sake cause it’s already been worth it, but for the sake of everyone who has made this summer possible.

People visting our home might find it a little strange to find our walls
cluttered with photos from our project, but it serves as a nice way to know
what we’ve shoot and what we still need to work on. This is our project road map
from much earlier in the summer.

2 Responses to The highs and lows of documentary photography

  1. I feel that workin on a project that long would be such a daunting task. At the same time, so enlightening and mind-blowing.

    I always go back on forth on if I like my photos or not. Its such a tough process.

    Loving your work, Tim. Phenomenal stuff!

  2. Thanks a bunch Keith.

    You’re right about it being a tough process. Only thing we can do though is to keep shooting.

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