Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 Photo Resolutions

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been dating checks, invoices, documents and other items 2012 for the past few days.  2011 is starting to feel like a distant memory and it’s as if the year went by as the fastest on record, regardless of the fact that there is still 24 hours within a day.  In the future, when I reflect on the past, I’ll always look back fondly on 2011.  It was a great year for me personally and photographically speaking.  It’s hard to think that I could possibly top it, but that’s exactly what I’m going to try and do.  With that being said, it’s time to jump into the 2nd Annual Photo Resolutions blog post.  These are the photographic goals I hope to accomplish in 2012.

  1. Shoot more- It’s hard to imagine that I could shoot more in 2012 than I did in 2011, especially with the undertaking of Project 365, but the resolution for me means something different.  I want to shoot more in regards to the quality of shots I choose and in regards to the amount of planned photo excursions I take.  During Project 365, I was shooting everyday and constantly looking for places and objects to shoot.  Sometimes that meant traveling to a nearby town and photographing there, but it rarely consisted of a dedicated photo day or weekend trip specifically for the purpose of taking images of new and fresh surroundings.  Outside of my vacation to San Francisco and Sonoma, I had three planned photo outings.  I went to Mansfield, Ohio for a weekend; I went to Findlay, Ohio for the FPP Midwest Meet-up and I went to Weston, West Virginia for a weekend.  I want to expand on that and partake in more day and weekend shoots.  By doing this, I’ll be able to work through any creative blocks that arise and I’ll be adding quality to my portfolio instead of quantity. 

  1. Shoot more film- This was one of my resolutions for 2011 and I successfully achieved it.  I had so much fun in 2011 experimenting with different cameras and different film stocks that I can’t wait to get started this year.  For me to successfully shoot more film in 2012, I need to use my film cameras almost exclusively throughout the year and keep the digital on the shelf.  That should be easy to do, seeing as how I quadrupled the number of film cameras I own by the end of the year.  I have a small corner in the refrigerator dedicated to film, so I’m fully prepared to take this resolution on.  Here’s to an entire year of film and negatives!

  1. Experiment more with Polaroid (Impossible Project) - It’s no secret that I love Polaroid cameras and instant photography.  My love affair started last year, when Brittany purchased a Polaroid SX-70 land camera along with a pack of Impossible Project PX70 Push film for my birthday.  I was instantly (no pun intended) hooked.  Since then, I now own six Polaroid cameras and achieved Pioneer status with the Impossible Project.  A number of instant film images were included in Project 365 and I even began experimenting with emulsion lifts.  I hope to continue that work and expand on it.  I would like to shoot more Polaroid this year and I want to start experimenting on a much larger level.  I want to continue emulsion lifts; create Impossible Project Black Frame transparencies; bleach my negatives; purchase and shoot original Polaroid SX-70, TZ Artistic, Time Zero and Fade to Black films; create impossible photograms; and create projects solely on instant film.  Because of The Impossible Project, the sky is the limit and I look forward to seeing how far I can push myself and my art using these unique and magical films. 

  1. Begin working in the darkroom – 2011 was a big year in the evolution of Jason Benning as a photographer.  I embraced the beauty that film offered and began my descent into a rabbit hole of grain, chemicals, vintage cameras and fun.  From the end of 2010 until now, I’ve sent my film out for processing.  I’ve had my film processed at the local community college, Walgreen’s, Lomography and finally Blue Moon Camera and Machine.  Blue Moon is my preferred lab and they’ve been great to work with; however, I won’t be able to gain any additional knowledge or have full control over my film photography until I start developing and printing for myself.  So, whether it’s taking a class at the local college, setting up a temporary darkroom in the bathroom or building my own working darkroom, I will find a way to develop my own film.  Once I get that under my belt, I can move onto optically printing.  I’m armed with my recently gifted trio of Ansel Adams books (The Camera, The Negative and The Print) and I’m ready to get started.

  1. Start shooting large format – This resolution is a resolution that’s geared more for the end of 2012.  I started last year with 35mm photography and graduated very quickly to medium format.  It wasn’t until the midway point of 2011 that I started shooting medium format film on a “professional” medium format camera.  I used my Hasselblad 500 c/m during the last half of 2011 and I absolutely love it.  It’s the first camera that I’ve had to meter on my own and I took nothing but time to set up each and every shot.  I want to continue going down that road and the next step is to delve into large format photography.  The easiest, most logical choice would be 4x5 photography.  So, by the end of 2012, I plan on purchasing a 4x5 camera and learning how to shoot with it. It should be exciting and I’m looking forward to it. 

  1. Expand my participation in art shows – I have regularly participated in regional art shows over the past couple of years.  The photo club that I serve as Information Officer for competes in three member shows per year.  In addition to those, there are three large regional competitions that I’ve entered as well as a few smaller ones, which includes one of the county fairs.  This year my resolution is to expand my competition presence; I would like to participate in a few contests north and south of my current competitive area and I won’t rule out any national competition as well.  Besides practicing, the only other way to get better is to compete against the best artists and open yourself up for additional criticism and this is what I plan to achieve in 2012.  If I don’t place, it’s okay.  I will have put myself out there more than I ever have before and it will push me to create better, more inspired work.

  1. Expand my participation in photo clubs – I have been in a photo club since the beginning of 2009.  After my first year, I became Information Officer of the Edison Photo Society and have been an active participant with the club ever since.  I have learned so much from the former advisor to our club as well as all of my fellow members.  Unfortunately, our membership and participation is starting to dwindle.  The club is an extension of the local community college and it’s been difficult to recruit potential members.  A new professor of photography started in the fourth quarter of 2011 and hopefully has an interest in being involved with the club in some capacity.  If so, that will hopefully bring an infusion of new ideas, activities and members.  If not, I plan on joining a few other clubs in addition to the Edison Photo Society.  Outside of reading in a photography book and practicing; speaking and interacting with other photographers is what will make you better.  They bring a wealth of knowledge, experience and a different point of view to the table and it would be a crime not to tap into anything they’re willing to share with you.  There are a few clubs in the Dayton, Ohio area which I hope to learn more about.

  1. Participate in another solo show or a joint show – Last year I participated in my first solo show.  It was a great experience and one I hope to continue throughout the course of my photography career.  If I participate in a solo show this year, it will be a themed show, where as last year was simply an introduction to my work.  I’m working on a few projects and if I finish any of them, there is solo show potential.  If not, I would love to participate in a joint exhibit with other photographers.  Photography is typically a solitary experience for me, but showing finished work together with other like minded individuals is very appealing.

  1. Start shooting Super 8 – If you remember my 2011 photo resolutions or you read my year in review post, you’ll know that I had set out to create a stop motion video with my photos.  That was one of the two resolutions that I didn’t achieve.  However, by the end of 2011, with the introduction of the Lomography Lomokino, I developed an interest in creating “moving pictures.”  Instead of working with the Lomokino, I’m more interested in Super 8.  I have a lead on a camera, projector and the whole outfit.  If that comes through, then I’ll be ready to go.  If not, I plan on picking a camera up this year and giving a go at some Super 8 videos. 

  1. Experiment with alternative processes – Towards the end of the fourth quarter of 2011, I became very interested in alternative photo processes.  The trailer for an upcoming documentary film, “Artists and Alchemists,” created a fascination and recent work by a few Flickr contacts have really encouraged me to explore photographic processes that were used in the 1800s.  Additionally, Freestyle Photographic Supplies has been trying to marry digital and film photography by offering a flurry of products that are used for making digital negatives and then using those negatives for traditional alternative processes.  So, if I achieve my resolution of working in the darkroom, I hope by the end of 2012 that I’m ready to start experimenting with these amazing, historical processes that create beautiful images. 

And there you have it, my photo resolutions for 2012.  I added two more resolutions this year and I didn’t include a resolution to have fun.  For me, photography is fun and I don’t see that changing in the near future.  I have a lot of work to do to accomplish what I want in 2012, but I’m confident that it can be done.  I’ll be here blogging about my experiences, showing work and keeping with the latest in photography and I hope you all continue to follow me.  Stay tuned for some exciting posts in the next couple of weeks, including a special announcement on January 9.  Thanks for reading and Cheers to a great 2012!


  1. Good luck, Jason. I started photographing in 2010 after almost 30 years away from the game. In the last two years I acquired over 40 film cameras of all sizes and vintages, including large format view and portrait cameras. Setting up my own darkroom was an exhilarating experience, particularly since I was able to practically steal equipment that I never could afford in my youth.

    I admire your enthusiasm and public spirit, and wish you the best. It is a thoroughly challenging and rewarding pursuit at any level.

  2. Thank you! I look forward to shooting this year; last year was a great time and I hope for more of the same in 2012.

    What made you step away from the "game" and what drew you back in?