Fernando Schlaepfer#353: canoas – joana (2016)

Generally: 365 projects–where an image maker posts one image a day for three hundred sixty-five days–are something I give a hard pass.

I recognize and appreciate the motivation, I guess–learn, grown and become better through actively doing. That’s certainly valuable.

However, the entire premise strikes me as nonsense in exactly the same sort of way the Gladwellian 10K hours to mastery is a garbage idea; namely: emphasizing the destination over the journey.

If the goal really is to motivate someone to become a better photographer or image maker, then the 365 model is effective only insofar as you make pictures ever day. The impetus to share at least one image a day on some social media site or another undoes any good that making pictures every day enables. It makes it not about the quality of the work or even the work itself it makes it about the motivation to gain attention through doing the work.

The truth of photography and image make is you’ll go for weeks, months and even years without making a single picture that’s worth two shits. Taking the picture is only ½ the equation and it’s actually arguably the less important half.

You can be the best, most accomplished shooter in the world but if you can’t edit what you shoot, then you are nothing more than a resounding gong or a clanging symbol.

All this is a prelude to say that Schlaepfer’s nude a day for 365 days project is an exception. Yeah, not all of the images work but a third are good and he does manage to produce at least one great photo once every couple of weeks.

It’s easy to look at his work and start addressing influences–Ren Hang and Akif Hakan Celebi; Schlaepfer is less brusquely transgression-is-serious-business than the former and nowhere near as ostentatious as the latter. It helps that Schlaepfer has clearly studied the cadre of West Coast lifestyle-oriented image makers with some attention and that manages to leaven his material, giving it some range.

The above image of Joana isn’t the best in the project but even if I’m not fond of how dark it is, there is something beguiling about how unassuming it is in its simplicity.

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