I am continually on the lookout for ideas, techniques and approaches to push me, to challenge me to think about what I am doing with the camera — and perhaps more importantly why I am doing it. Here are three projects I have run across in the last month that have inspired me:

To Beantown and Back, Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune
For the first time since 1997, the Chicago Bulls and the Chicago Blackhawks are in the playoffs at the same time. On Saturday, Chicago Tribune photojournalist Scott Strazzante traveled from Chicago to Boston to cover the Bulls vs. Celtics in the the morning. He flew back to Chicago in the evening in time to cover the Blackhawks vs. Flames at the United Center. Two playoff games in two time zones, 20 hours of work, 7656 photos and two Chicago victories. The Chicago Tribune published the resulting photo essay as “To Beantown and Back” both online and in print.

I admire how Strazzante makes news gathering a human activity. He intersperses his photographs and captions with bits of audio to capture elements of the stories from the people around him. I thought the interviews with the various cab drivers were brilliant additions to the story — and the quick encounter with Cheryl Baker on the flight to Boston. By including these elements, Strazz reminds me that news — even traditional media news — is not constructed by faceless corporations but by people in the world. People who have their own personalities and quirks. He reminds us that the stories he tells are essentially human stories.

We’re All Gonna Die – 100 Meters of Existence, Simon Høgsberg
For twenty days in the summer of 2007, Danish photographer Simon Høgsberg photographed people from a railway bridge on Warschauer Straße in Berlin. He shot for two hours every day at the same time of day in order to get the same light for each photograph. He produced over 3000 portraits. In the end he selected and arranged 178 of these portraits into one long composite image entitled “We’re All Gonna Die – 100 Meters of Existence”.

In an interview about the piece Høgsberg states that, “[the title] is meant to point out that life is beautiful, and unless we open up to each other instead of keeping our longings, hopes and experiences to ourselves we’ll fall into the grave with a lot of valuable information and love that we never got around to sharing with the people we’re in touch with.”

What I like about this project is that it illustrates how advances in technology can enhance an artistic vision — rather than just giving us an excuse to do crazy things in Photoshop. I believe this project could be accomplished using traditional photographic techniques. It is just that the advances in photographic technologies — specifically digital photography — make this sort of project accessible. And not only accessible for the artist, but for the audience as well. Digital creation makes the composition of the piece obtainable. Digital distribution of the piece makes it accessible to wider audience than ever before.

A Wolf Loves Pork, Takeuchi Taijin
This year a lot has been said and written about the convergence of still photography and videography. Camera manufacturers have begun to seriously incorporate the features of both forms of visual arts into their product offerings. Japanese artist Takeuchi Taijin has taken a different approach on this issue of convergence with “A Wolf Loves Pork”.

Using 1300 still photography prints, Takeuchi Taijin connects the pictures with each other and the world of his apartment to tell an exceedingly clever story in stop-motion animation format. The resulting film transcends both media types — impossible without the inclusion of creative still photography within a video framework. Moreover the videography framework as stop motion itself refers back to the original roots of still photography.