Assignment One: Who ARE You?


This is the vision statement part of your Project 52.

A vision statement is not an “elevator pitch”.
A vision statement is not a marketing message.
A vision statement is not a ‘tagline’.
A vision statement is not necessarily shared with the world.

This vision statement is about you. Right now.

It is about your vision of the world, and how your photography fits into it.

Video just added:

What do you want to do photographically?

(EDIT: See related post by Chase Jarvis – link here)

Tell us with a single paragraph what you want to be able to do with your images. Tell us what you do without telling us you are a photographer. Accompany that message with a single image taken around your home. Inside or out, make a photograph that adds insight into the mission statement you will be writing.

Don’t get overly flowery, just write down what you want to do.

A few examples.

“I am a story teller. I illustrate the times in which we live and try to put it into a context of meaning with images of ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I strive to enlighten each and every one of us by portraiture that reveals more than the surface reflects.”

“I capture that moment between reality and fantasy with my images. A tiny sliver of time caught for eternity, and worthy of notice, is what I work toward with every image I take.”

“Nekkid Hott Chicks in heels, wrapped in caution tape on railroad tracks…”

OK, maybe not that one. Seriously not that one.

A vision statement, even a rudimentary one, can make a huge difference when you are shooting.

It reminds you what you want to do. It helps the focus of the image be what you want it to be. It can help put you back into the position of creating instead of taking. And even those photographers who ‘find and take’ images have a vision that helps them do the finding.

By keeping my personal vision statement in mind, I am able to see the images that fit, they are more easily ‘revealed’ to me. It is when one loses sight of their purpose that the deserts of creative hell become more visible. Creative block happens when one forgets their personal vision, and begins to either wander aimlessly.

Creative burnout can happen when photographers stop doing the personal work they love and concentrate totally on the commercial aspects of it. The commercial doesn’t end up squaring with their personal vision, and the whole focus of their photography becomes muddled.

Now. MAKE A PHOTOGRAPH that illustrates your vision statement. It doesn’t have to be technically difficult. Do not think you have to do anything in any way that is prescribed for you. You do not have to use strobes or natural light or desk lamps… this is NOT a technical exercise. It is a vision exercise. This image should be very much a personal one.

It should be done in or just outside your home. It is not a ‘big shot’, it is YOUR shot. If you have never worked on a vision statement before, this is where we look inside and work it out. The good news is there is NO wrong way to do your vision statement. Unless it is wrong for you, it makes no difference to anyone else. It is YOURS.

As for the photograph… think long and hard about it. It should reflect your vision statement as best as possible. It can be done indoors or outside. I only want you to to shoot around your house/apartment as an exercise in creativity.

Sometimes we have to make do with what we have… and I want you to make do for an important photograph without leaving your yard. That is the extent of the rule.

Flickr Page is HERE: Post: Image/Vision Statement.

That is, put your image into the Flickr thread, and put your vision statement in the description of the image. Flickr is free, and a free account is all you will need. When you post your image on Flickr, use the “tag” area to add this tag: proj52one2012

(If you have a Photoshelter or Imagebucket account, you can simply link your image into your Flickr thread. 500 pixels wide please. Unfortunately you will not be able to tag the image.)

More coming.

Due Thursday, January 19 by showtime. All assignments will be given on either a Sunday or Monday, and they will be due on the wednesday that is two weeks away. You will have two weeks to work on each assignment, but a new assignment comes each week.

Vokle Show Page is HERE.

Use these questions to guide your thoughts.

- Pull the 5 images that you love the most. NOT the ones that got the most comments on Flickr or other Hipstamatic, the ones YOU love the most.

- What do they all have in common… write it down.
What is different about each of them… write it down.

- How would you describe those images to someone who couldn’t see them.

- Do the images that mean the most to you reflect something you are personally interested in? No right or wrong answer, just think about the relationship between you as a person, and you as an artist.

- If you had an opportunity to do any kind of photography, and be paid well for it, what would it be?

- What do you think about when you think about photography? (Gear? Shooting? Experience? The Image? Recognition?) – again, there is no right or wrong answer.

- When people describe your photography, what terms do they use? What terms would you want them to use to describe your work?

- List three photographers who you would love to shoot like. Not as a copy, but as an influence/mentor.

(For instance me, they would be:
Nick Onken
Tara Donne
Robert Wright
they change all the time, but currently I am loving the work from these three)

Now take all that into account and see what makes sense to you, what makes you happy, what influences you and what all of those things have in common.

This will give you something to focus on while you are working on your vision statement.


The critiques are based on the pages at the Flickr Forum.
I would encourage you all to listen to all of them. If I missed one or two, let me know and I will get it up there. I think I got them all, but we’ll see.

Audio Critique of Page One of Assignment One, Project 52 2012 Edition

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Audio Critique of Page Two of Assignment One. Project 52 2012 Edition

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Audio Critique of Page Three of Assignment One. Project 52 2012 Edition

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That is 2+ hours of audio critique. Listen to it all if you have a chance. Find yours on the page and listen to that page’s critique for your individual one.

Thursday, January 19, 2012 Vokle Show.

Thanks to all who were in attendance. I look for an even bigger crowd next Thursday.

“I look for the spaces between. Between relationships, between thoughts, between objects. I find the moments that are usually missed, and frame them in a way that brings clarity and order.”
– Don Giannatti

Lanterns and shadows on a wall in Melaka, Malaysia

Author: Don Giannatti

I have been a photographer, art director, creative director and designer for nearly 40 years. The experience both behind the camera and behind the desk hiring photographers has given me a unique set of tools for working with photographers. Project 52 grew out of a frustration with the boards and forums that seem to be more about personalities than the actual work of being a commercial photographer. I am not famous, and I have no aspirations to be... but I know what the hell I am talking about.

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  1. I am sooo in to this! (Wife is happy that I have stopped drumming my fingers on my laptop, too!)

    Modified my Vision Statement that I did a couple of months ago… Now for the image!

    Thanks for doing this again, Don.


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  2. I’ve been considering joining in with this years challenge. I’ve managed a 365 before, which taught me so much about what I wanted to shoot. I think I’ll do what I can and see how far I get. This is fairly difficult for me, since I can explain what I shoot in four words, but a statement is harder. Plus, since I shoot live music, in my house will be a challenge…

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    • I highly recommend it, Chris, even if you cannot do every assignment. I found that simply being a participant on the Wednesday reviews/critiques was helpful beyond description (52 hours of learning!) and did the assignments when I was able. You won’t regret it, I am certain.

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    • It isn’t about genre, it is about personal vision. What kind of photograph can you take that shows your ‘vision’ – not necessarily your subjects? It is genuinely one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it is so important as you start down your professional path.

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      • In the few hours since I made the comment, I’ve been thyinking more and more. Slowly I’ve been moving round to a different way of thinking about my work, so I kind of understand.

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  3. I have never done this and feel I need something like this to “spark” my creative juices.
    Thank you Don!

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  4. I missed out on this last year and I saw two friends work blossom from doing this project. I am not missing out on it again. I am looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish.

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  5. Is it acceptable for newbies to participate in this? I’m somewhat of a beginner and would love to do this as a way to practice and improve.

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    • I am a newbie and participating in Project 52 seesion 1 has been the best thing I could have done to accelerate learning. It is a challenge well worth taking on.

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  6. Christmas tree out, decorations boxed and in the attic, abundance of baked goods beginning to dwindle. I am ready to shave my beard and get back in gear!! Looking forward to Project52 2012 and an awesome year personally!

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  7. I had to drop out shortly after it began last year. This time I am going the distance! Gonna be interesting considering the hours I work for my regular job (3rd shift…ick!) But that’s part of the challenge, right?

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  8. I stumbled across this a couple of months back and have been waiting for the new year just so I can participate. Thank you for starting this again, Im a newbie but would love to learn and improve.

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  9. I’m looking forward to pushing myself outside of my comfort zone! Thank you so much for having what looks to be a very exciting and challenging program!

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  10. Don…SO glad you’re doing this again. I’m going to participate as much as I can (doing the nursing school thing, now). But I so want to improve my professional photography image.

    Looking forward to the learning!


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  11. I am super excited about this. I really look forward to learning and growing over the next 52 weeks!
    Thanks Don!

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  12. New to this but it sounds so intriguing. I want to give it a try.

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  13. Last year I managed to throw a few images in (and I do literally mean, “throw”) at the last minute. So before 2011 ever ended I committed myself to being an active participant in Don’s Project 52 from the start. Boy does this first assignment have me re-thinking that commitment [insert stupid smiley face]. Not really, I love a challenge. I’ve written lots of corporate mission statements, but never have I had to think as deeply as I am about this. Thank you Don!

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  14. Don,

    Thank you for starting a new Project 52. Due to work commitments, I unfortunately had to sit out of last year. I am very grateful for another opportunity and look forward to being around for the duration of this one.


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  15. Great seeing new people! Also great to see some that could not do all of last year come back. Welcome and looking forward to watching you grow with the rest of us.

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  16. I’m quite new to photography but I see this a great opportunity to learn and develop skills to become a good photographer.

    Thank you for doing this and I look forward to seeing everyone evolve.


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  17. I have wanted to participate in 52 week and 365 challenges before but never could get started. A buddy of mine told me about Project 52 and what you were doing and I had to check it out. So far with this 1st challenge you have my wheels turning, the only problem is that I am not good at narrowing things down to a single paragraph but always enjoy a challenge so bring them on. This ones going to be fun.

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    • “the only problem is that I am not good at narrowing things down to a single paragraph”

      Oh good. We can sit together! :)

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  18. Hey all!

    Seems like atlast this year i would start off with weekly assignments! I have been looking for something like this from quite sometime, but could not. Hope I will keep myself busy atleast this time :)



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  19. I have been following your weekly newsletters for more than a year, gaining insight and inspiration to bring my work to a new level with each image I take. I am so excited to kick off the new year being a part of this amazing project and community. I can’t wait to see how my work grows and improves throughout it all. Having just graduated this past summer from college, this has been the first time I haven’t had assignments- for as long as I could remember! This time, I want to give each assignment my 100% and not just “get by”.

    Now, time to get working on my new years resolution… Assignment #1, “Vision Statement”. :-)

    thank you!

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  20. I’ve had enough of shadowing websites and drooling at what others do. This is the year I start doing something. Thanks Don, for the inspiration and your time.

    Look forward to working on project52.


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  21. My vision statement is done and I’m working on my photo – I know what I want, just working to get it! It is inspiring looking at everyone’s work. In just four short days I have already learned a lot from this page and the people on it. Thank you!

    This is my year to get serious about what I eat, sleep, walk, dream and talk – I can’t stop thinking about photography.

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  22. Stoked for 2012! I flunked out with poor attendance last year, but I loved this Prj52 when I was in it. I had a first kiddo in 2011 – how’s that for an excuse :)

    My goal is to finish with > 80% attendance.

    Thanks for doing this again Don!

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  23. Thank you Don for pouring your heart into this project and letting us learn in a collaborative setting at a cost we all can afford. I am looking forward to learning a lot from you, meeting new friends, and watching our photos improve. Thanks again!

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  24. I’m not sure I posted my assignment correctly. I put the link to it in the flicker conversation. Can someone let me know if I’ve done this correctly. I don’t want to be left out of the critique.


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  25. Where will the critique be on the 16th? I’m excited to see it.

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  27. Hi all! This is my first time participating and I’ve very excited about this weeks assignment. I’ve been reading a lot recently about your vision and personal style. So I wanted to share a great article with all of you.

    Developing Your Vision

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  28. Whew! Am I thrilled to stumble across this!! In December of 2011 I sat down and worked out an entire strategy and plans for moving in a new direction this year. Wasn’t exactly sure how to get where I wanted to go but took a few educated guesses. But Project 52 is precisely what the doctor ordered – SO glad I found it in time to get involved. Checking the posts here and working on the assignments will be one daily ritual I will look forward to! Thank you Don – so very glad we’re FB friends because otherwise, I might have missed this!

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  29. Hi Don:

    I hope it’s OK to join in the fun. I’ve never done a project 52 or 365 or any other similar thing. Part of my New Years Resolutions: Try some new stuff.

    Looking forward to participating.

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  30. Just been listening to the critique, and want to say thank you for taking so much of your time to go through everyone’s shots.

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  31. Vision statement revisited:

    Expose dimension with shadows and light.

    It was ‘good’ for me to hear you struggle with my original statement.

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