When I shot the images you see here, I would have had varying thoughts about a potential 11th chapter of the #leesixtyfive project.
Some of the shots are from the archives, as all those used in the last update were, while some were shot in a period more fitting to the timescale of the project. That is, recently.
When shooting the former, all I could do was hope I’d even get to chapter 11. I had no idea if I would at the time.
When shooting the latter, I knew I was going to achieve that. The concern then was to make sure number 11 played its role as the penultimate chapter. Because we still need a 12.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Allowing the project to create itself
I remember thinking, back when I started this, that keeping an open mind and letting the project go where it wants to go was important to me.
Sticking so closely to arbitrary rules seems silly when it restricts the creativity of something.
I had no idea how the #leesixtyfive would turn out. I didn’t want to have too much of one, really. The fun was in finding out.
Using the archives quite so much – for around one and a half chapters now – was never the plan.
Whether doing so dilutes the value of the project is in the eye of the beholder, but it can’t be changed now so it’s better to just embrace it.
The one-photograph-per-day thing went out the window a long time ago. That decision was just an evolution of the project, and one that was necessary to keep it alive and to give it the freedom to grow and to find its own way.
It was either that, or let it die.
That’s led us to where we are today. Should this thing get completed, that will be the most important thing for me. When I look back, I won’t care how it happened.
It won’t matter how it got done. Whatever twists and turns it took will be a feature of it as much as anything else is.
When quantity of photographs trumps quality
There are certain times in life when quality is paramount, and there are others when the numbers matter more.
It’s important to know when either is the case, when to balance them out, or even to switch between the two.
I’ve said many times this project has to be a street photography one. I’ll give it up before I resort to including photographs of a coffee, or my foot.
About that balance, though. I’m a big believer in things being greater than the sum of their parts, and that was prominent in my mind as I both went through the archives and shot new photographs for this update.
Coming up with images that would be standout entries in the #leesixtyfive hasn’t been a priority in recent days. Previous chapters have included images I’ve really liked, and I can push for that quality again in the final part; but only if I make it there.
This update has felt a little like grunt work, so to speak. To get to chapter 12, I needed quantity. That means photographs that will contribute to the 365 total and be good enough to not drag it down.
The project can be better than the sum of its parts, but only if all the parts are there.
A solid foundation for a fluid project
While the chronological structure of the #leesixtyfive photographs has changed, my commitment to writing an update every 30 shots hasn’t.
Way back when this project started, I decided to do these for a few reasons. One was that it’s just simply more content for this website.
Another was that it’ll give the project some sort of backbone. I can change the rules as far as when I have to shoot, but I still have to make 365 photographs because the blog posts need them.
I really don’t want to have an unfinished series of articles where I start out all enthusiastic yet end abruptly somewhere short of the finish line.
Perhaps it’s about giving yourself another reason not to fail. Without these posts, the only evidence of the ongoing project would have been the Instagram hashtag that nobody even looks at (I presume).
By doing these updates too, not finishing the project would mean either ending on one explaining how it failed, or deleting them and hoping nobody remembered I tried.
Neither sound like something I want to do.
One final effort to finish the #leesixtyfive project
As the title suggests, this update takes us to photograph 330 of 365.
A week or two of Shanghai’s summer rain gave me permission to sit inside, decide what to dig out of the archives, and see how short that would leave me of the final total.
I need to make more and I’m happy about that. There’s no way I want to limp over the line with old photographs. A lot of them were taken in poor light and I’m still missing a lot of Shanghai’s most iconic places and buildings from the project.
We’ve had some better weather recently and I’ve already made a few photographs for the final update.
Whether I can get to 365 depends on a few things. Inspiration, which shouldn’t be a problem. The weather, which shouldn’t either but might result in me getting wet. And unexpected life events, that can happen at any time.
If the final update has been written as you read this, you know how it went. It’s either going to end on 365 or some number short.
I know which one I’m hoping for right now.