What happens when you edit the same photograph thirty times? You get a collection of images that are different, yet relate to each other through common elements. You get a surprising burst of creativity. And you might just get some of the best work you have created in a while.
I know editing the same photograph thirty times sounds like something difficult to do. The words “boredom” or “stuck” quickly come to mind. But I found the exact opposite to be the case. This #30edits challenge was one of the best things I’ve done for my creativity in a while. Things seemed to evolve easily. And while there were moments of difficulty — places I had to push myself to get started in a new direction, or continue through to something worthwhile — overall it was simpler than I thought.
Most of the time, to get things going in a new direction, I just needed to try a new app or a new feature within an app. The possibilities really are limitless with the variety of iPhone apps available! Near the end, I spent more time editing within iColorama, an app with fantastic capability but not the easiest to use. The added push of this challenge helped me come a long way up the learning curve for this app, as well as help me get deeper into features of apps I use all the time.
One of the most surprising things I noticed as I progressed through more and more edits was how my point of view on that starting photograph changed. I shifted from thinking of it as “the image” to thinking of it as “the elements.” I looked at how I could use the elements of the image in different ways. How could I repeat, layer, invert, rotate or otherwise change the elements? I broke things apart and put them back together as something new. I wasn’t tied to keeping the same connection to the starting photographic elements and composition I have historically maintained in my editing process. Another invisible barrier to creativity, broken down.
The bottom line? I could have easily kept going beyond thirty edits.
Here are all of the images in the series, printed and hanging on my studio wall. I had to purchase two more of my favorite Photo Ropes to see them all together, but it was worth it! I will be exhibiting these in February, so I want to live with them for a while to figure out my favorites.
Several other artists on Instagram joined me in the challenge. You can see all of the group’s work tagged with #30edits here. Some participants are still in progress, and some are finished. I asked a few of the participants who were furthest along to share their #30edits thoughts and experiences with us, along with their original image and favorite edit, so you can learn from them too.
At first I thought one image for a whole 30 days? No way. I had done something similar with the #100dayproject last year although I wasn’t limited to only one image. But the more I thought about it, I figured that if I would pick an image where I could set a stage to do some compositing, then maybe it could work.
The image I picked worked well for compositing. Previously I had used mostly the DianaPhotoApp to blend my images together. I used this project to explore some new apps and to dig deeper into ones that I already used. My favorites being, iColorama, Juxtaposer, and two I hadn’t used much before, Union and Silhouette.
I still have a few more to make it to 30. It has definitely been harder than I thought it would be. I was glad to hear that we didn’t have to do one a day for 30 days, that would have made it so much more difficult, I don’t think I would have kept at it.
My favorite part of the project? Even if I got to the point where I thought I couldn’t do anything new with my image, I just kept working with it and something always appeared!
I love a challenge and this one did just what I hoped it would. It made me stretch and learn new things. It challenged me to take a simple image and see if I could make it look completely different each time I edited it. The first 15 or so weren’t too difficult because I love to edit on my iPad and I used a lot of the editing tools I’m familiar with . But after that I had to start really digging and looking for things I had never tried before. That for me was the real value of this challenge. Could I make it part of a portrait? Could I make it a fantasy? A self portrait? What was the least amount of editing I could do? What was the most?
So thanks very much, Kat, for pushing me along my artistic journey. It was really fun! I loved seeing what everyone else did and learned so much from them as well.
I was intrigued by your 30 edits when I first read about it, but could not imagine doing 30 edits on any one photo. Then I took a photo that I knew immediately I could edit in more than one way. The first 10 edits flew by. Then I started pushing the envelope a bit. I saw what others were doing and got some inspiration from them. The last 10 though were the hardest. What could I do now that was different than before. I came up with a theme of 4 seasons and by then only had 4 more to go. One of my last edits is my favorite. Everything worked in that image and it is by far the strongest of the bunch. I would not have created this if I had not pushed through this project. And by the way, I did and posted 31 edits. There were probably another 4 or 5 more that never made the cut. This really was an amazing project in creativity.
I can see doing variations of this challenge for myself to continue this type of creative exploration.
Thank you Beth, Janet and Shelley for joining me in the challenge and for sharing your thoughts with us here! Seeing your work progress throughout the challenge really inspired me, and I thank you for that as well as the companionship of having others working through the same challenge together. It was so much fun, I will probably do it again sometime in the future and I hope you will join me again.
Are you in need of a little creative boost? Are you up for a challenge? Don’t wait for me, you can start on your own thirty edits anytime. Just use #30edits on Instagram. I’ll see you there!