Neat piece on a photography blog called Canonblogger a few days back titled 'Can You Shoot Thirteen Views?' which challenged readers, I'm assuming them all to be fairly serious photography enthusiasts, to pick an object or scene, anything really, and shoot thirteen different photos of the object, adjusting and changing lighting, exposure, etc. to create a collection of similar but slightly different images of said object.
The point of the exercise? That the simple process of creating 13 versions of the original image, or new takes on the existing idea for the image, is likely to produce something much more interesting and valuable than what existed at the starting point.
From the Canonblogger piece:
Go get your camera and pick some random object in your room, office, or wherever you happen to be. Now what?
Take 13 pictures of that object. Make each one different! Change the angle, change the light, change the object itself. It doesn't matter what you do, just do 13 different things. I can guarantee you that at least one of those photos will be something new, unique and even compelling.
Kind of a neat and really simple exercise, particularly given the near-zero cost of digital imaging today, (each additional picture on the camera's memory card costs essentially nothing), and considering the amazingly accessible and powerful tools and apps like Instagram that are available to photographers of all skill levels. Creating 5 or 10 or even 20 'versions' of an image has never been more possible and approachable.
Why bother? Well as the post suggests, the more images one takes of an object, the numbers do increase the likelihood of creating something new and compelling, that much seems obvious. But for me, there also might be a lesson about our perceived capability to experiment, speculate, and explore in other areas beyond simple digital photography.
Most everything we do, projects, processes, even technology development, seems to start from a fixed place - a given set of assumptions, circumstances, work that has gone on before we get our hands on whatever mess opportunity we are inheriting. That starting point, maybe 'Image 1' in the 13 images example above, often determines a large part of the eventual outcome of the endeavor, sort of the old 'Where you end up depends on where you start' gimmick.
If you buy-in to that theory, or at least suspect it might have some truth to it, then taking perhaps just a bit of extra time at the start, to challenge assumptions, to examine more closely the status quo, to really honestly assess whether constraints are real or just imagined might prove valuable and open up a wider range of possibilities, and eventual outcomes as well.
The 'Take 13 images' example reminds us, even simple things like objects often can tell much different stories when viewed just a little bit differently. If that is true for static objects, it is no doubt true for the more complex ideas and relationships and technologies that you might be working today with as well.
Have a Great Weekend!