Let me tell you a quick story:
Once upon a time, I started a photo project. Then I accidentally abandoned it, leaving it sad and alone in the pouring rain.
But wait! It's making a comeback!
In recent weeks, I've really started focusing a lot of time and energy on my photography, like I used to back when I first started. After walking the city like the good ol' days, I've decided to bring my Portland By Numbers project back from the dead.
What is it?
Those of you who have followed me on Facebook for awhile will remember this project, but for you newcomers, here's the rundown.
I spend a lot of time walking around Portland. A lot. After a while, I became intrigued by all the different numbers that you can find around the city, if you take the time to look. I'm an Engineer, so naturally, I tend to pay more attention to numbers than your average person (it's weird, I know).
Anyhow, I thought it would be neat if I took photos of all these numbers, and put them in order. I looked around the web and didn't really find anything similar, so I gave it a go. I kept at it for awhile, walking the mean streets of Portland for hours each day, searching for the next number. I was really pleased with what I had going. It turns out that there's something oddly satisfying about scrolling through that gallery and seeing a bunch numbers in different contexts, styles, and colors, but the correct order (again, weird, I know. Moving on).
Then I stopped.
I'm not exactly sure why I stopped, to be honest. If I had to guess, I would say that I sort of lost interest simply because I went at it too hard, too fast. It became more of a chore than a relaxing stroll through the neighborhoods of this fair city. I searched tirelessly, and often ended up at home without a shot of the number I needed. As a result, I have a large, entirely random backlog of numbers that I may never even need (I have some that are greater than 1,000...).
I was going about this thing all wrong.
What's different this time?
- Everything - Okay, not everything. But my approach to this project has completely changed. I have vowed to not search for specific numbers - this drove me crazy the first time around. I am going to continue my frequent jaunts around Portland. However, rather than only looking for a number, I will keep in the back of my mind the next few numbers that I need. And if I happen to stumble across one of them, great. If not, no big deal. So this will be more a labor of love, rather than a labor of.. labor.
- Quality - Looking back at my early photos makes me cringe. Man, was I clueless. However, I refuse to go back and re-take shots or even re-edit those photos. As well as being neat and fun, this project allows me (and you, too!) to see how I've improved as a photographer. Progress.
- Me - I'm a different photographer than I was a year ago. Very different. I'm breaking out of my shell, challenging myself, and seeing things completely differently. This will surely result in more interesting number photos than I was making before (I hope). I'm also a lot more critical of my own work. Only the absolute best images will make the cut. I will (and have) go back out and re-shoot a number if I'm not happy with what I see as I'm editing (as mentioned above, this is not retroactive to shots I've already posted). It's a lot of extra work, but I won't post anything that I'm not extremely happy with from here on out.
Why should you care?
Well, maybe you don't. That's fine. I'm still going to do this anyway. But I can tell you that you probably won't find a project like this anywhere else. And maybe you're a freak like me and enjoy numbers more than you probably should. I could probably make a blog just for this project, but I like to mix it up a bit and post different things here.
I'm sticking with it because I think it's cool, and I enjoy looking for interesting, new ways to shoot numbers. I hope that you take a few minutes to take a look at the gallery below, and feel free to leave any comments you'd like.
To see the high-res versions of these images, head on over to the Portland By Numbers gallery page.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and enjoy!