Long-term Projects


How long should one take in continuing to pursue a longterm project? When is the right time to end it?

Answer by: Zishaan A Latif Photographer, Filmmaker

What does “long” mean? And why does any period need to be defined, unless on commissioned assignments? Why I state these counter narratives is because in the case of self-initiated/funded “longform” projects is an intimate journey through any story. From thought to execution, is a very privy relationship of subject and photographer/artist. It might mean something much more to someone and far less to the other. Hence, some stories take close to a decade.

A beautiful, poetic example of time playing a key role is Jason Eskenazi’s Wonderland, which he took seven to eight years to produce, and was released as a book in 2008. His subsequent chapters released as Black Garden and Departure Lounge, in 2018. Lets quantify Eskenazi’s efforts with time. He chooses this way of functioning, maybe in tune with how he perceives the world. He decides the course of his narratives through chapters broken up into long periods that help him to develop a nuanced understanding, and forge a relationship with what he wishes to disseminate into the world as his “subjective view of an objective world” (as he signed off on my copy of Wonderland in 2010).

A photographer/artist just knows intrinsically from within their responsibilities towards the story that they have potentially invested emotion and energy, to see it through. The end will always seem daunting, but the pressure is self-induced, either indefinite or definite.

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Better Photography.