The very first idea for this series started to form during some sleepless nights in January 2014. I had just gotten the feedback from previous Artproof competition which essentially said: "too little personal contribution, too documentary" (that was Peressaare Project, in case you're interested). So I actually did something very obvious - make the series as personal as I could - make it about myself.
The next thought - my life is not too interesting right now, let's make it about the time when I was still able too feel some really strong feelings except for anger over the traffic jam :) That's around my childhood I guess (why I feel this way is a topic for another post). And I have kids about the same age I'm talking about - a perfect match.
Let's combine it with my detailed knowledge about Ida-Virumaa - the place where I grew up, and use the photo ideas that I have gathered during my later trips there (for Ida-Virumaa Photo Project).
I made the first drawings right there in January already. Would be interesting to look at them and maybe even post some, but my kids deleted them from my iPad. At least one of the ideas - the picture with big trees and bonfire in the night - is pretty close to how it realized.
The very first picture was shot only somewhere around the end of March, shown on top of this post. I was full of energy and another picture came during April. It, too, didn't make it to the final version though. There were several pictures I made during "intelligence gathering" trips, with no chance to make it there with my kids (kilometers of walking, prohibited territory, etc).
Then, the summer, a vacation for the whole July. I shot and shot and shot. It's interesting how I shot new material all the time, but once the final edit was done, I have like 3 pictures all shot during one day and then nothing that made it to the final set for a whole month.
At some point I discovered this wonderful blog post about writing about your photography. For me, the main takeaway point was that "assume you, as the photographer, want to be understood". My mantra for the next months. Not just for writing, I actually shot like this, too. I want to be understood. I want to be understood.
I was plagued by my inability to reach some places with my kids, so much so that I took the pictures with myself. It started to change the concept. I felt it wasn't right, but I held on to some pictures so strongly, I just couldn't edit them out.
At the end of August I showed my work to a friend of mine, an accomplished photographer himself. He didn't say much, but I saw he didn't understand. Back to the mantra. I ruthlessly edited out good half of the set and started over. Among other things he mentioned Sally Mann. You probably won't believe me, but somehow I had heard the name before, but never seen her work. I ordered "Immediate Family" straight away. Not sure it was a good or bad thing - I can't claim no influence now. But in all honesty, even 4x5 black and white was chosen long before I became familiar with Sally Mann's work. Anybody familiar with my photographic journey knows my long-time preference for B&W.
I felt focused from there on and ditched some of ideas I clung on to. I was able completely rework some ideas and also realize them - a good example is the picture with painted tree (it's published here for example). The place of the "night bonfire" picture was also changed and it could be that it came out even better than the original.
After that, some serious editing. If I'd say one hundred hours - that's around 1 hour a day for 3 months - I'd probably underestimate the editing efforts. Weird feelings again - at first you feel like you're making a huge compromise when taking something out, then you get used to it, then, as time goes on, you feel like you've made your series a lot more coherent. Quite an experience.
Fast forward to December - Blood Unquiet won Artproof Young Photographic Artist's Grant. While some people say that it's OK to submit just the idea and some sketches to the competition, I would have never won it with just drawings and even if I had, I couldn't make it into a real project with just a couple of months. If there's any takeaways in this story for future applicants - that's it.