It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post, illness creeping into the mix. Luckily I’m back up to full health, and once more getting on with some work.
This week I focused on the one-liner outline for the project, refining it from the previous version. I’m happier with this one. It’s likely it will change over time, but for now this is what I’m going with:
A photographic essay, the Beaten Track tells the story of country Australia’s former rail towns, in the wake of their industrial decline and social change.
Hopefully, this better conveys what the project is, who it is about, and how it will be presented.
Beyond this, I wanted to set out a strategic outline, giving myself goals and targets for the project. This may be subject to change as I go on, but it’s important form the outset to define how I will measure my progress and my work. Not only that, the strategy includes the values by which I will deliver my work. It’s a fuller explanation of what my ambition and objectives are, and how I intend to accomplish them.
To produce a photographic essay and literary book, telling the story of country Australia’s former rail communities, in the wake of industrial decline and social change.
To merge lived experiences and photographic presentations to draw out the voices of country Australia, bringing human context to the visual world to demonstrate what is; to invite speculation on what was; to inspire dreams of what yet might be.
Produce a visual narrative of country Australia, showing the social and physical environment of former rail communities.
Accurately represent the voices of Australians in former rail communities to tell a story of how their country towns have changed in the wake of industrial decline.
To communicate to as wide an audience as possible the state of being in Australian country, through both visual and literary mediums.
How will the goals be achieved?
Taking a wide range of photos, using the opportunities of a vast and visually articulate landscape.
Travelling to every state and territory, encompassing a diverse cross-section of country communities.
Speaking to people, taking interviews, and drawing out the real life stories and lived experiences of those that live in these towns.
Contacting local history groups, rail groups, and local communities to gain insight into their local regions.
Every state and territory to be included (barring ACT), with at least two separate regions per state and territory featured.
20 finalised images for each region.
Minimum of one personal story for each region.
Minimum of five perspectives (‘snippets’) for each region.
Blog post once per week.
Human connection; sharing ideas and knowledge.
Celebrating country; promoting diversity.
Enhancing understanding; information as learning opportunity.
Honest presentation; truthful in fact, accurately representing thoughts and feelings.
I think the values are the most important thing to firmly establish at this point, because they centre the moral core of the work and give it integrity. If I become lost in my thinking they are a good place to come back to. They also help establish the parameters by which my photography will be judged.
There’s still a lot more to do. I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of research yet, but I feel that is my next stage. Gathering information about the likely places I will visit, and, perhaps most importantly, identifying possible networks and contacts, is a critical part of the work before I even take a photo. Only then will I be able to have some sense of resources and finances needed, and planning out shots to take.
This is quite exciting in its scale. I am perhaps being too confident in setting the end of 2020 for collecting the core set of photos and interviews, but I need to start somewhere. In the meantime, I get to begin the exploration of the subject matter, researching the key histories of the places I’m targeting. That’s the next step.