How to Develop a Project: Elinor Carucci

© Elinor Carucci, Emmanuelle having her hair cut, from the series "MOTHER" 2007

During the last year, we published thirteen short essays from photographers to the basic question, "What advice do you have for starting a project?" The series featured replies from Judith Joy RossIrina RozovskyAlejandro CartagenaPhil ToledanoSteven AhlgrenSusan LipperAmani WillettLisa KeresziEirik JohnsonRichard Renaldi, Brian Ulrich, Mark Steinmetz and Tim Davis.

Today we begin a follow-up series of posts of advice from photographers on how to develop a project, asking them how they approach the middle ground of their projects after giving basic definition and before taking steps to finish.

We start the series with a response from Elinor Carucci.

Born 1971 in Jerusalem, Israel, Carucci graduated in 1995 from Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design with a degree in photography, and moved to New York that same year. In a relatively short amount of time, her work has been included in an impressive amount of solo and group exhibitions worldwide. Solo shows include Edwynn Houk Gallery, Fifty One Fine Art Gallery, James Hyman and Gagosian Gallery, London among others and group shows include The Museum of Modern Art New York and The Photographers' Gallery, London.

Her photographs are included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, The Brooklyn Museum, and The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston among others and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Details, New York Magazine, W, Aperture, ARTnews and many more publications.

She was awarded the International Center of Photography's Infinity Award for Young Photographers in 2001, The Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and NYFA in 2010. Carucci has published two monographs to date, Closer, Chronicle Books 2002, and Diary of a Dancer, SteidlMack 2005. Carucci currently teaches at the graduate program of photography at The School of Visual Arts and is represented by the Institute for Artist Management.

In the winter of 2013/14 Prestel will publish her third monograph, MOTHER, that will show nine years of her motherhood project. A show of this work will be exhibited at Edwynn Houk Gallery in NYC in March 27th, 2014.

I know you asked about developing a project but the main thing to me is to make the first part of a project. And what is really crucial to me about starting a project is not to be afraid to fail - this fear can be very paralyzing - and to accept the fact that the project might not turn into a project and to start anyway.

Give yourself a certain amount of time to work before you make any decisions. Let yourself take pictures of what you put your heart into, and then see, and think, and see again. And continue working through the days where nothing comes out of a shoot, and the many mediocre images that happen. Look and think again, accepting at times that you are not sure what you are saying, but keep making work.

Then comes the stage of getting into a method or some sort of a system that will let the project grow. I guess this part is more what you asked about. I think that developing a working system, a structure, will get you into the discipline that is needed in order to start and finish a project. It depends on the project, but try to create some system of shooting in a certain method: keep the camera with you at all times, or try photographing once a week, or once a month for a long period of time, or if the project involves another person's life, make a schedule with them of when you can visit. Maybe try for once a month on a regular day and also once a month for an event they are having and commit to it.

The more you get into it, usually the more you will know what you are saying with it and, therefore, when to end it and call it a project. But I think that getting started and developing a working method is the most challenging part.

- Elinor Carucci