The 12.12 Project was conceived by Tennessee based film photographer Penny Felts in 2013, during a period where she felt that her photography had become stagnate and predictable. She wanted to challenge and push her creativity in new ways. Already connected to a worldwide pool of instant film photographers, she invited 11 women to participate. The women she selected were photographers whose instant photographs she respected and admired, and The 12.12 Project was formed.
About midway through the year of the 12:12 Project, I started thinking about having a men’s version. Since the original group was strictly women , I started thinking about how some of the male photographers who I knew might shoot some of the themes that the women had chosen. I also wondered what themes the men would choose, and how different would those be. So, after the last theme was posted, I decided to go for it. I wanted to do just a couple of things differently. The main thing was that I wanted every member to be from a different place.
The 12th “man” is Penny Felts – she comments “it’s a challenge, to think like a man and shoot differently.”
Every month each photographer chooses a theme, one that challenges each other, pushes each artist out of their comfort zone, and generates creative photographic responses to powerful thought starters. This website is dedicated to the unique results generated from each of the artists in the group.
Another aim of the project is to publish books, and tour with worldwide exhibitions to allow these interpretations to be seen by all.
Tell us about what made you want to start the 1212 project, what’s the goal?
Well, I was feeling a bit stagnant with my photos. I needed to mix things up a bit, so last year I started the original 12:12 Project with 11 other female instant photographers.
How did you go about finding people to be a part of the collective? What made you decide to start with all women?
It seemed natural to go with women, since I am one. I felt like I would (and did) relate to them photographically. The women that I chose were contacts of mine through a few photo websites, whose work I had always loved.
At what point through the 1212 project did you decide to start a Men’s project?
I toyed with the idea from the beginning, but decided against it at the time for two reasons: One, I wanted to devote all of my time on getting the first group up and running properly. Second, I wasn’t really sure that there would be 11 men who would be interested. I think that it was easier to get them interested after the success of the first group.
Do you think the idea of letting each artist choose a theme for each month decentralizes the project? Was this always plan and did you have fear of letting go at first as far as themes go?
Oh, that was the plan the whole time. It was really what the group was about. I wanted all of us to play off of each other. I wanted to see how different our minds would work on the same subject. The goal of the group is to stretch our creativity, to challenge us to get out of our collective boxes.
What has been your favorite thing about and organizing these groups?
Honestly, it’s been the excitement of it all. I am excited each month to try to come up with something new and different, plus I’m excited that there are 22 other really great photographers that feel the same way.
Once the project is over, you want to create a book and do a worldwide tour of the images: those are some impressive ambitions. How is the planning of these things going? Any details you can share with us?
It was the original intent with the first group, and all of that has happened, and is still happening. We have had two shows so far, one in Paris and one in Berlin. I am in the planning stages here in Nashville for a third one. It is really up to the members of the groups to see if they can find a gallery to show the work. But, it isn’t mandatory. There is a book out there for the original group also, that one of our wonderful members, Amanda Mason, put together for us. I plan on creating a book for each of the future groups. And, of course, each of the
photographers can offer prints for sale at anytime.
Do you think that your efforts have a bigger impact by organizing into a group? Using your shared influence to create a bigger draw to your images? From a marketing stand point, it’s a great project to be apart of. Your thoughts?
Yes, that was another thought. As photographers, we all want to be seen by as many people as possible. I wanted this for myself, but also wanted to showcase these other photographers that I have loved and respected for years. I thought that this would be a fun
way to do that.
Tell us about how you got started and with instant photography. Did you have any groups that you were a part of that helped you grow as an artist?
I became interested in photography as a small child. My mother always had a camera in her hand. My dad was in the Navy, and he would bring her cameras from every port. I loved them all. I got introduced to a 600 type Polaroid camera when I was a teen. I fell in love with it. Then a few years before Polaroid stopped making film I was really heavily into using it for manipulations, lifts, and transfers. When Polaroid announced they’d stop making film I was devastated, like many people, and started buying it by the case. I was so grateful when Impossible Project picked up the ball. I wasn’t really in any Polaroid groups, but I think that the whole theme thing came to me because there used to be a Holga magazine, Light Leaks, that would have a monthly theme that I always submitted for. I loved that magazine.
Any future projects by you we should be on the look out for?
Well, I have a personal project that I have been working on, but as of now its still a
secret. I’ll keep you updated.
Anything else you would like to add or elaborate on?
I am thinking about having a little contest again this year through the groups. I’m still working out the details though. We will make an announcement when it’s ready. Also, all of us at the 12:12 Project would like to thank everyone for their continued interest and support.