Blackbox 2016

Long time readers of the blog will be familiar with my habit of creating a “Blackbox”.  Here’s the original post, here’s 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and here’s 2016:

Blackbox 2016
2016 – 92 shoots in total.

A quick recap of how a Blackbox works:

  • For each shoot I do, I choose one image.
  • That image must be the one that speaks to me most from the shoot.  This means it might not be the one that got published, or even the “best” image from the day, but the one I feel resonates most strongly.
  • For multiple day shoots, I allow myself one per day.
  • Create a polished, retouched, finished version of this image, and place it in a folder on my hard drive.
  • Try not to look at the folder every 5 minutes!

The idea behind it is to help me to spot broad trends in my work.  These are usually obscured by the day to day nature of shooting and working.  Taking this broader view allows me to recognise much more accurately how much of a certain type of work I’m doing, and perhaps shatters some illusions I may have about how I’m spending my time.  It can also be used for some very helpful number crunching.  I can break the year down into shoots per client, location, month, type, budget – anyway I want really.

Lessons from 2016

Last year I wrapped up with a short series of 4 posts about things I had learnt in 2015 (1, 2, 3, and 4).  I was tempted to repeat that practice this year, but have opted not to for a couple of reasons.  First, I think some of the main lessons I’ve (finally) learnt in 2016 will suit more in-depth posts in the near future, and secondly, I’ve been bloody busy with shoots in December!

What the Blackbox can tell me

I could talk you through every shoot.  But I won’t, it’s the afternoon of New Year’s Eve, and I suspect that even for the fastest readers that would take us safely into 2017!  Instead, the main lesson from 2016 is a very simple one – it’s been a year of extremes.  I’ve worked on some fantastic stuff, including some of the biggest jobs I’ve ever shot, and can pick many jobs that I’d be happy to repeat any time.  Conversely, I have had far too many occasions where I have failed completely to learn my own lessons, and have felt like I was banging my head against a brick wall.  I shall go into this in more detail in my upcoming post series on “Working for Free”.  In the meantime, go out and have a cracking time tonight, recover from your hangover, then if you haven’t already, knock up your own Blackbox for 2016, and I’ll see you in 2017.


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