How to Start a Project: Nicholas Nixon

© Nicholas Nixon, Bebe and I, Brookline, 2013

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 RenaldiBrian UlrichMark Steinmetz and Tim Davis.

We subsequently began 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 started with responses from Elinor CarucciMichael Itkoff and Jackie Nickerson.

Today we return to the question of starting a project in order to be able to include a response from Nicholas Nixon. This is the 14th response in the series.

Starting a new project always has anxiety as I don't know where I am going and secretly fear I may have lost whatever magic I have. So they start in two ways: the first is with an idea, a human or political issue, which I follow and do my best to be fair. This way does not lead to my best pictures. The other way is to listen to photography; to try a long lens and see what the space is like; to put the camera close and see what two faces look like touching, or what my face looks like with an 11x14 with the bellows stretched out to 4 feet and the lens 3 inches from my eyeball; to see how many active things I can get into one frame, to see how a picture of a single person in a frame can be as interesting or, for a moment, even more interesting than the person itself. See is the word, look comes next and think a real long time after that.