In a recent LensWork podcast, Brooks Jensen discussed the values of deadlines. He and a group of photographers have been in China, and six of them participated in a juried show. They each had three days to photograph, edit and select 20 images, and then have their work judged.

This got me thinking about imposing my own deadlines. Again. Jensen has discussed deadlines before, as well as Jeff Curto of the Camera Position Podcast, and I had many of the same thoughts during this episode as I have with many of the others before. But since this discussion was in the context of having only three days to go out and gather material, or make the photographs, then edit and cull their images down to a group of 20, and display them, I got to thinking about imposing that type of a deadline on myself.

What if I were to impose a deadline, where I have X amount of time to make Y amount of images of a certain topic, concept, place, or subject matter or idea. Maybe I could do this several times, so that I would end up with three or four or however many of these bodies of work. Then, would they all coalesce into one greater body of work? I suppose they could, if they all fell under a grander overarching theme. Or maybe the very fact that each body of work was done with the same guidelines or rules places them under one overarching theme.

The amount of time may dictate the amount of images to include in the final count, and vice versa: fewer images–less time in which to work; more images–more time. Also, the tools used (e.g., pinhole camera, digital camera, lumen print, etc...) would influence both time and scale.

Would an artist statement accompany each group? Would the writing of an artist statement be included in whatever timeframe I impose?

A large difference between what Jensen and the other five photographers did and what I’ll be doing, is the deadline for the contest was placed on them by a third party. My deadline is all self-imposed, and I can see myself making excuses for extending the deadline. Maybe I’ll just have to put my wife in charge of cracking the whip.

The following is the statement that really got me thinking about this seriously:

“The deadline of having to photograph and produce in 72 hours a group of 20 images to be photographed, not only resulted in some very interesting photographs, but some very interesting experiences for all of who put ourselves voluntarily into a little bit of a squeeze box that pushed us to find something creative and personal to say in this landscape. And as an event, I think it was incredibly successful.”

Even if these photographs don’t make it past being posted here on my blog, I can’t help but think that it would be of immense value to me as an artist, as Jensen discovered. I mean, it’s really kind of a no-brainer: deadlines are useful, no matter where they come from.

Now, to start brainstorming project ideas and parameters...Maybe I should set a deadline.